With the next general election fast approaching and the rhetoric from politicians on education becoming increasing heated, what happens in your school and in your classroom is set to take centre stage in May. We caught up with Tristram Hunt, Shadow Secretary of State for Education for England, and discussed his vision for education, teachers and schools if Labour wins the next election.
In this article we are focusing on Mr Hunt’s comments about teachers and professional development. For the whole interview, see November’s UKED Magazine.
The Shadow Education Secretay for The Labour Party began by stating that supporting teacher professional development was one of his main three priorities, making special mention about the importance of Early Years educators.
“What we know is that if you improve the quality of those working in early years the effect on children, the outcome is children who are school ready. They gain the early skills which allow them to flourish at primary school.”
Mr Hunt touched on his plan to introduce wrap around provision at primary school from 8am-6pm. He went on to assure that this doesn’t mean teaching for all that time.
“What it does mean is that we make use of these very impressive facilities in our communities, for breakfast clubs and after school clubs, so we have the enrichment and extra-curricular, which we know, especially for children from disadvantaged, helps to build up to attributes and attitudes, the character and resilience.”
Mr Hunt spoke more about teacher professional development. He stated,
“The most important part of schools policy is to ensure quality teaching in the classroom, rather than the relentless structural change seen over recent years. We have lost sight of the importance of leadership and teaching.” He was quick to add, “This doesn’t mean that teaching is bad in our schools. It means it can be better and it is a Labour government’s job to work with the profession when it comes to initial teacher training, when it comes to continuing professional development.”
“We want to focus on the quality of teaching, and that begins with having quailed teachers in the classroom,” and Mr Hunt vowed that under a Labour government all teachers would be qualified, or on the way to gaining qualified teacher status in the case of student teachers. “We think that a government, who lets anyone just come along and teach without the training, without the development has little understanding of education.”
“But gaining qualified teacher status is just the beginning and gives you a licence to teach – then the journey begins in terms of training and professional development.”
He continued that schools and educators do not succeed as islands and collaboration and networking is crucial – Something which regular contributors to UKEdChat will attest to.
Finally, speaking about his idea of importing a Singaporean style ‘Teacher’s oath’ to the English system, Mr Hunt argued,
“Taking such an oath would be voluntary and would reinforce the teacher’s commitment to professional develop and a symbol of their continue willingness to seek out learning opportunities to make them a better teacher for their students.”
He went on to say that it is something that the teaching profession will need to debate and decide whether this will change many teachers idea of professional development from a passive to an active pursuit.
Read the full, extended interview in November’s UKED Magazine.