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Teacher Quality Becomes Priority

Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt says that raising the standards of teaching, and not just creating a new school structure, is the way to raise the standards of our children’s learning.

At the moment, unqualified teachers are able to teach in academies and free schools, but Mr Hunt proposes that, under a new Labour government, this scheme will be gotten rid of to pave the way for boosting learning in the classroom. He says that by law, teachers will have to be qualified, and children will no longer be denied the high-quality learning that they are entitled to.

Although this may come across as just an offensive against the Conservative party’s current education policies, the overall belief of everyone is that something has to be done to boost learning in our schools. A Tory spokesman said that any proposals that have the potential for helping to improve the quality of teaching in schools will be looked at, and that action has already started to try and improve schools. This includes allowing head teachers to remove their teachers after a term instead of having wait a year as they previously had to. Teacher training has also been improved, and head teachers are now able to pay their better teachers more than those who don’t prove themselves. “Thanks to our reforms, a record proportion of top graduates are entering the profession,” the spokesman said.

However, regardless of all of the recent reforms, pupil performance hasn’t risen as much as it was thought it was going to, which is why Hunt stated Labour’s latest proposals at the North of England Education Conference. He emphasised the “no education system can exceed the quality of its teachers” motto, and that the standard and teaching should be the biggest priority in schools, so he has made it his. Hunt explained that the minimum we should expect from the schools that our children attend is that the teachers be qualified or at least be in the process, and right now that just isn’t the case.

Among some of the other ideas that Hunt proposed at the conference, teachers being given the options of clearer career paths hit home. This would give potential teachers the opportunity the specialise in specific subjects or teaching skills, and provide more of a chance of professional development.

Professor Robert Coe from Durham Univeristy’s Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring said that he backs Hunt’s proposals and that research clearly indicates that it is not the school but the people teaching in it that most affects affect a child’s education. “What really matters is what happens in the classrooms,” he said, “and the quality of teaching is crucial.”

Teacher unions across the country are also backing the proposed changes. “We are pleased that Tristram Hunt wants to restore the professional standard of teachers,” said Dr Mary Bousted, who is the general secretary for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, and Christine Blower of the National Union of Teachers said, “It is certainly reassuring to hear that the Labour party is committed to every teacher in state-funded schools.” She added: “We also welcome the recognition that it is the teacher and not the type of school which delivers a good education for children and young people.”


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