Licence to teach.

There were reports yesterday that Michael Gove, the shadow schools secretary, is strongly opposed to Schools Secretary, Ed Balls’s proposal – outlined in a new education White Paper which deals with a  package of measures designed to boost school standards parental power – that teachers will be required to get a licence – renewable  every five years – to ensure they are fit to teach in English state schools.

Mr.Grove said; “Instead of real steps to improve teaching, such as giving heads the power to pay bonuses to specialist teachers or reforming teacher training, Ed Balls proposes yet another huge bureaucratic measure that will cost a fortune and cause all sorts of problems. We don’t support it.”

Balls proposes that this “licence to teach” should be introduced for newly-qualified teachers from September 2010 and for remaining staff in coming years. Licenses – based on teachers competence in the classroom – would be issued by individual headteachers, and the General Teaching Council, which regulates the profession, would monitor the process and would have the power intervene if schools fail to impose rigorous checks.

Balls said: “It may be that we will discover some teachers who don’t make the grade … We want this to be a profession which is continually learning and developing, and that will be central to the licence.

“It’s saying we want to ensure the best teachers in every classroom in every part of the country.”

Balls’s proposal is, to my mind, by no means a bad one.  My first instincts tell, however,  me , that while the introduction on renewable licencing may be no bad thing, there is no good reason to be at all sanguine about Balls’s proposal that the issue of licences be the preserve of headteachers.  One suspects that Balls,  in trying to avoid creating another bureaucracy to administer “bureaucratic measure”, has not fully considered the implications of giving the headteacher of a single school would licencing, or refusing a licence, based on that teacher’s performance within that school and that school only. That part of his proposal must be more carefully thought through. I’d say.


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