Press release: Government announces plans to help raise the status of teaching

Plans to support the creation of a new, independent college of teaching that will help to put teachers on a par with other high-status professions like law and medicine, and a new fund to champion more high-quality professional development for teachers, have been announced today (20 March 2015) by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and Schools Minister David Laws.

Great teachers are at the heart of the government’s plan for education, with the rise in standards in recent years made possible because of their hard work and commitment.

But the government recognises the crucial reforms it has introduced have asked a lot of the profession, which is why it wants to give more back. For this reason, last month, the Education Secretary and the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, pledged to support the profession to tackle the issue of unnecessary and unproductive workload by announcing a series of actions including:

  • giving schools more notice of significant changes to the curriculum, exams and accountability, and not making changes to qualifications in the academic year or during a course, unless there are urgent reasons for doing so
  • a commitment by Ofsted not to change their handbook or framework during the school year, except when absolutely necessary, and to keep updating their new myths and facts document stating what inspectors do and do not expect to see

The plans announced today will build on these commitments by ensuring England’s teachers have the support and leadership they need, further raising the status of teaching and putting the profession in England on a par with the best in the world, so that teachers can achieve the best possible outcomes for their pupils, by:

  • making significant funding available to the ‘claim your college’ consortium – a coalition of leading organisations in the education sector – to support them in their endeavour to establish an independent college of teaching, which will be owned and led by the teaching profession
  • providing up to £5 million to establish the first phase of a new professional development fund – to support more high-quality, evidence-based and rigorously evaluated professional development programmes, delivered by the growing network of 650 leading teaching schools
  • establishing an expert group to develop a new standard for teachers’ professional development, helping teachers to become better informed about the types of professional development that make a real difference – the group will be chaired by David Weston, Chief Executive of the Teacher Development Trust
  • working with the sector to develop and deliver a new online professional development portal – allowing teachers to access and share properly evaluated and quality-assured evidence and research about the approaches to professional development that will deliver the most impact

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:

In my role as Education Secretary I’ve have been very fortunate to have met with more than 700 superb teaching professionals from across the country – all dedicated to preparing the next generation of pupils for life in modern Britain.

I am very pleased to announce that we intend to support the ‘claim your college’ consortium as it establishes a new college of teaching – addressing the absence of a professional body for teachers in England.

And, through the new professional development fund, we will provide more teachers with access to the types of high-quality professional development opportunities that teachers and school leaders have told us they want and that will place the teaching profession in England on a par with the best in the world and ensure our children get the best possible education.

Schools Minister David Laws said:

The key to building a stronger economy and a fairer society is ensuring we have excellent teachers in our schools to inspire pupils to achieve their full potential.

We already have world-class teachers doing just that, but we want to champion them even further by helping them to place teaching on an equal footing with other high-status professions like medicine and law.

The new sector-led college of teaching, independent from the government, will help to achieve that vision, and more high-quality, evidence-based professional development will support the profession to grow and learn.

Vicky Beer, Chair of the Teaching Schools Council, said:

I welcome today’s announcement which is another important step towards a school-led system, helping school leaders and teachers to take greater responsibility for developing their profession.

The announcement of the first phase of the new professional development fund, with its important focus on building robust evidence, will help to consolidate the existing excellent work of the teaching schools network, and give even more teachers access to the types of professional development that make a real different to them and their pupils.

Angela McFarlane, CEO and Registrar of the College of Teachers, said:

The ‘claim your college’ consortium welcomes government’s recognition of the significant boost that a new college of teaching could give to raising the status of the teaching profession in England, and supporting teachers as they develop their professional practice.

We are all agree that a new body needs to be fully independent of government – set up and owned by teachers for teachers – but we are delighted to accept an offer of initial support from government, on the clear understanding that any and all such support must not in any way compromise the independence of the new college.

We will be working through details of the proposed support over the course of the coming months. We very much look forward to pressing ahead with the set-up of the new organisation, building on support received from The Mercer’s Company, and welcoming more teachers to join us in this exciting and hugely significant development.

David Weston, CEO of the Teacher Development Trust and the newly appointed chair of the group, said:

I am delighted to have been asked to chair the expert group. I and the other members of the group will be listening carefully and working together with the wider profession to help set a respected and constructively challenging standard for the professional development of all teachers. We want to articulate this clearly, in a way that will help leaders, teachers and other stakeholders to develop practice that ultimately helps more teachers thrive and more young people succeed.

I am keen to ensure that our work is underpinned by the existing and emerging research about the use of evidence and teachers’ professional development. We have an excellent group of talented teachers, leaders and academics from across the sector, and we are determined to draw on the knowledge and expertise from across all schools and the wider system. I would ask everyone who works in and with schools to please share your experience and your wisdom with us to help us get this important process right for everyone.

The plans outlined today will build on work the government has already undertaken to support the teaching profession, including:

  • committing to a series of decisive measures to reduce teacher workload and bureaucracy in schools
  • allowing heads to recognise and reward excellent teachers through reforms to the pay system
  • encouraging greater collaboration amongst schools to drive up standards

Notes to editors

  1. The consultation: ‘A world-class teaching profession‘ opened on 9 December 2014 and closed on 3 February 2015. Read the government’s response.
  2. It is expected that the new college of teaching might take on greater responsibility for areas such as professional standards and continuous professional development, should it so wish, thus moving stewardship of the profession out of the hands of the government and to the profession.
  3. Teaching schools will be able to bid for funding of up to £300,000 to design and deliver projects working in partnership with other schools – particularly those that need the greatest additional support. Evaluations of these projects will be made freely accessible to all teachers, helping to build a strong evidence base.

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