Teaching standards in Wales 'are not fit for purpose'

Media caption,
Kirsty Williams said current teaching standards are "not fit for purpose"

Teaching standards are outdated and are no longer fit for purpose, Education Secretary Kirsty Williams has said.

The Welsh Government is due to propose new teaching standards for Wales on Thursday.

The standards set who can qualify to be a teacher and outline what is expected of them as they develop.

"These new standards are about making sure teachers develop the right skills throughout their career," Ms Williams said.

Teaching standards aim to set out the expectations of teachers.

Current standards include understanding the national education policy context in Wales, teaching clearly structured lessons or sequences of work, and managing teaching and learning time effectively.

Inspectors at Estyn recently raised concerns that the quality of teaching in Wales was weak.

Image source, PA

Ms Williams said: "The standards that we have at the moment are outdated and no longer fit for purpose.

"They don't marry with my vision for our school workforce.

"These new standards don't set a minimum like the old ones did. They go beyond that expectation."

Conservative education spokesman AM Darren Millar said the change needed to result in "tangible improvements" rather than just being a "cosmetic rebrand".

The new standards are expected to focus more on teachers' personal development and training than previously.

It is proposed that they apply to all serving teachers from September 2018 and initial teacher training programmes from September 2019.

Analysis by Colette Hume, BBC Wales education correspondent

There is no surprise at the timing of this announcement, coming just days after the OECD's 61-page report on the plans to reform Welsh education.

It put the development of a high quality teaching profession at the top of its list of recommendations.

At the centre of the reforms is the new curriculum, which is due to be rolled out to all schools by 2021.

Billed as the biggest change in Welsh education for a generation, the 1988 Education Act will be replaced by a new curriculum designed with needs of 21st Century children in mind. Literacy, numeracy and digital competency will be at its heart.

A 21st Century curriculum will need an up-skilled and highly motivated workforce to see it to fruition made up of teachers and school leaders.

Kirsty Williams said the old school standards are no longer fit for purpose; she said these new standards will turn teachers into the "biggest learners in the classroom" continually updating their professional skills.

While new entrants to the profession will have to reach more stringent standards to qualify, Ms Williams said it was her national mission to drive up standards and raise the standing of the teaching profession.

The response from the teaching unions will be crucial. There is an acknowledgement that the old standards need to be reviewed but there are still concerns that these new standards could place an additional burden on the profession at a time of seismic change in education in Wales.

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