Voice: the union for education professionals has welcomed the publication by the House of Commons Education Committee of its report Great teachers: attracting, training and retaining the best (1 May 2012).
General Secretary Philip Parkin said: “We welcome the Committee’s recognition of the importance of teachers and high quality teaching and its comment that ‘the current generation of teachers is the best ever’.
“Voice supports the view that ‘it’s crucial that we have an educational system which celebrates great teachers, keeps more of them in the classroom, supports their development and gives them greater status and reward’. Unfortunately, the attitude of government ministers and the media towards teaching often seems to be negative.
“The Committee’s report points out that ‘nearly three quarters of teachers are female’ and ‘the majority of teachers (nearly 94%) are recorded in the “White” ethnic groups’. Clearly more needs to be done specifically to attract men and other ethnic groups into teaching and we would like to see both the Committee and the Government address this.
“However, the Committee makes a number of strong and positive recommendations that, if taken forward, could enhance the work and status of teachers. These include an entitlement to professional development for all teaching staff, a national sabbatical scholarship programme, and ‘taster sessions’, where people could experience teaching before deciding whether or not to commit to training.
“We would endorse the view ‘the Government needs to market teaching more effectively and consistently’.
“We agree that ‘defining the qualities associated with outstanding teaching is a complex exercise….’ and are pleased that the Committee questions any direct link between degree class and teacher quality.
“You don’t have to have a first to be an excellent teacher. There are many excellent teachers with thirds and plenty of people with firsts who are brilliant academically but would be hopeless at passing on that knowledge to children or inspiring them to take interest in a subject. It's the aptitude to be a teacher that is important, along with a desire and ability to work with children.
“It would be wrong to exclude some potentially excellent and inspiring teachers on the basis of their degree classification. If degree classifications are so important, why are the free schools allowed to employ unqualified teachers? What is the logic of requiring some teachers to be qualified while allowing others to teach without qualifications?
“The Committee’s recommendation of ‘formal and flexible career ladders for teachers, with different pathways for those who wish to remain as a classroom teacher or teaching specialist, linked to pay and conditions and professional development’ would also be welcome.
“However, the Committee’s recommendation that ‘the DfE develop proposals for a pay system which rewards those teachers adding the greatest value to pupil performance’ seems to overlook the fact that the link between pay and performance is not new in school teachers’ pay and conditions – the ‘Threshold’ and Upper Pay Spine were introduced 12 years ago! The current pay system facilitates the additional reward of teachers who take on additional responsibility and who show excellent performance in the classroom – often both.
“When the Upper Pay Spine was introduced, Voice supported it as an incentive for good experienced teachers to stay in the classroom and as a system of rewarding their expertise and raising their potential salary. At the same time, we were clear that this access to the scale and progression on it would be linked to performance.
“Performance management or appraisal arrangements are already in place for teachers in England and Wales. From September 2012, successful appraisal will depend on the teacher meeting the relevant Teaching Standards (England).”
Contacts: Voice Press Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) on 01332 372337 or 0794 871 0413, General Secretary Philip Parkin (email@example.com) on 01332 372 337 or 077 259 601 32 or Senior Professional Officer (Education) Ian Toone (firstname.lastname@example.org) on 01332 372 337.
Voice: the union for education professionals
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