The Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt set out Labour’s plan on 11th January 2014 for teacher licenses to ‘update skills’. A similar idea was originally proposed by former Schools Secretary Ed Balls in 2009 but was abandoned before the 2010 election. Mr Hunt told the BBC that the idea was about recognising the ‘enormously important’ role that teachers play and helping the profession grow. This, he said, means continuing professional development’. If you’re not a motivated teacher- passionate about your subject, passionate about being in the classroom- then you shouldn’t really be in this profession’.
I personally have a bit of an issue with this statement. As a rule I don’t disagree with things the Government or the opposition party says just for the sake of it. I agree with many things taking place in education at the moment. For example, I truly believe we need Ofsted. As a profession we should be accountable for the education we are delivering to our children. The future is in their hands and we need to make a good job of it. That said, I will be happier when Ofsted has evolved to a position where the system is truly supportive and both schools and inspectors are happy with the process
Mr Hunt talks of passion. I would say that to survive in teaching you have to be passionate about your role. Twice this week I have worked 12 hour days. You might think that is unremarkable, but keep in mind it is only Tuesday! It is my passion for the job that keeps me performing 12 hour days. There are of course some bad apples in teaching like there are in any profession but we have been granted the means to remove them. It is now possible to remove poor teachers within a term rather than over a year. Also, the 3 hour limit on observations has been removed. Love or hate this ruling it does give us the means to root out poor teachers where they exist. We also have the introduction of PRP. This is another controversial ruling but again it does allow us to deal with badly performing teachers.
Mr Hunt’s suggestion has met with a mixed reaction. Teachers seem divided on the issue. I confess that the Unions have surprised me. At this moment the NUT has said that this could be a positive development. They are giving it a tentative thumbs up. The NASUWT also seem to be in favour of the idea as long as ‘important preconditions’ are met. I have no idea what the preconditions are, I just hope it involves weighty discussions with their members.
In case you haven’t guessed I’m afraid I’m not in favour. I see it as yet another hurdle for teachers to jump through. As a profession we are already heavily observed by people both internally and externally. Middle leaders and senior leaders observe constantly to ensure teachers are ‘Ofsted ready’. There is also a growing trend for leaders to observe in other schools to check observations are carried out correctly. All of this leads to teachers having to constantly prove themselves and to be consistently at the top of their game.
I have my degree, my PGCE and QTS. I also have a Middle Leaders qualification and a Masters Degree in SEN/Inclusion. Does this not prove that I’m passionate about my role? Does this not prove that I want the best for the children I’m entrusted to educate? I also have several specialist SEN courses to my name which I have undertaken simply because I want to help more children to succeed. There are of course all the statutory and recommended ones such as Safeguarding, Child Protection and E Safety to add in to the mix of CPD. If I’m not showing passion for my role then I’m not sure how to demonstrate more. Many teachers are just like me. How many times do I have to keep on proving myself I wonder before I become disheartened. Then of course there is the biggest hoop of all- Ofsted! The ultimate in proving yourself as a teacher and a leader.
All of that brings me to the proposed RCoT. I’m quietly optimistic about this. There are also some questions I would like answering. Who will run it? Will it be run by teachers for teachers? Will the RCoT be in charge of the re licensing? If so, and the college is run by teachers then I can see a tiny glimmer of hope. If teachers are running it surely it will be a supportive process. Surely it will do what it says and help the profession to grow. Until these questions are answered I remain unconvinced that re licensing is a good thing.