Archive for the ‘Licence to teach’ Category

No to ‘licence to teach’

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has shot down the “licence to teach” proposal, assuring teachers that it will not be implemented.

Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said such a proposal would be “simply impractical”.

He said requiring teachers to have a teaching licence was against the concept of free education that the country practised.

“It is simply impractical in this country although there are others that practise it.

“Schools are built by the Government and they do not need licences to operate,” he said, stressing that the “idea would remain an idea”.

Muyhiddin, however said it would be a different matter if the idea were to be implemented by private schools, which had their own systems and required licences to operate.

“So, requiring teachers at government schools to have licences to teach is unsuitable, impractical and will not be implemented,” Muhyiddin told reporters during the Juara Rakyat programme at the Sungai Bonus People’s Housing Scheme near Setapak here yesterday.

Deputy Education Minister Dr Puad Zarkashi had on Friday said teachers might be required to sit for an examination to obtain a licence, just like doctors and lawyers, as an initiative to ensure professionalism and avoid having unqualified teachers or those involved in criminal activities in the profession.

The National Union of the Teaching Profession had objected to the idea, saying that there was no need for such a proposal.

by Zuhrin Azam Ahmad.

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Licence to fill teaching jobs with bankers

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

The government’s licence to teach will sacrifice good teachers in a bid to encourage more unemployed bankers into the profession.

Lest anyone was ever in any real doubt, the recent education white paper has made naked what the government really thinks of teachers. The time-honoured tradition of each education secretary mounting the dais to recite the statutory script, “The current stock of teachers are the best trained, the most dedicated, the … (yawn, where was I)?” has, with the planned introduction of licensing teachers to practice, been exposed for the shame that it is.

In order to implement the “Meet the new teacher, better than the old teacher” programmme, they must first find “justifiable” reason to dispense with the outmoded. And so we have mooted policy wearing the mask of creating a training “entitlement” for teachers, the real intent of which is to drum the (say 15,000 or so) “incompetent” teachers as suggested by Chris Woodhead out of employment. The sacrifice that such teachers will be forced into will serve the greater good. In having their careers laid down, they will create the space that superior successors might profitably populate. The issue with involuntary sacrifice, of course, is that no one ever stops to ask the lamb how it feels about having its throat cut, and in introducing a licence for teachers, the government plays the role of rabid high priest sharpening the knife.

Why, when there is already a thriving capability procedure routinely employed in many schools, is this considered necessary? In case you have not run into this, any teacher who consistently comes up with less than satisfactory observation grades, or whose classes’ results have not vaulted sufficiently highly over the benchmark, all too quickly finds themselves subject to a series of accountability procedures, the intent of which is to either improve their performance sharpish, or to make them leave the school. Anecdotally, those who fight this procedure tooth and nail tend to survive it. Most don’t. After a brief, desperate and humiliating struggle, they recognise that leaving before they can be certified incapable is the better part of valour. If they leave before the capability procedure has reached a mature stage, they will be more likely to find another job; and so, they resign.

It is these teachers the government miscasts in the role as cancerous blight, and the licence to teach scheme is the operation designed to surgically remove them. But while it would be churlish to ignore the fact that there are probably more than a few teachers unsuited to the job, the collateral damage of this scheme will be awesome. Schools are all different. A certain type of teacher may well be shocking in one environment, perfectly successful in another. The licence to teach scheme suggests that such teachers, rather than finding a school environment in which they might thrive, should only have one strike before being not only out but permanently retired.

Furthermore, its invention raises a legion of operational questions. How will it map with capability procedures? Is it intended that all capabilities should, after the trial period, automatically become “licence to teach” issues? And why, in the name of Jesus, Joseph and the saints, trial it on the newly qualified? This is a vicious and self-defeating madness. Where a decade ago a newly qualified teacher would be assigned a classroom and left to get on with it, learning on the job, the new breed will be allowed less room to make the mistakes through which they’ll find the method: a couple of whimsical observations and all the investment in training them will have been for nought. They’ll be certified inadequate in their first term and promptly spat out. The irony here is that the first cohort of teachers to be subject to such draconianism will include the bankers, ICT specialists and “quality” graduates the scheme seeks to make space for.

A further issue is how this impinges on the function of the General Teaching Council. The GTC seems, to many teachers, to exist solely to run disciplinary proceedings for gross professional misconduct, and to take a sum of money out of their pay packets each year. Unless the licence to teach scheme is run by the GTC, does it not, in some way, obviate its existence? Also, if the cutting out of perceived deadwood is now the responsibility of the headteacher, then who checks the headteacher’s judgment?

The licence to teach is an ill thought-out and vastly costly step that, if applied, will cut out the wrongly diagnosed cancer of the committed journeyman pro in favour of the unemployed financial services clerk. We will, I predict, come the recovery, have to get down on our knees and beg for them to be reinstated the moment, three years in, when the bankers realise en masse that teaching is far from the dossy, permanently uplifting stroll they had been sold by the glossy brochures and adverts.

by Phil Beadie, The Guardian, 11 August 2009.

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Academy staff spared from licence to teach

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Union leaders outraged by twist in plan to monitor professional status

Teachers working in some academies will be exempt from the Government’s controversial new “licence to teach”, The TES has learnt.

The revelation has added to the fury of some teachers’ leaders over a policy that will eventually see all teachers and heads having to prove they are worthy of their “licence” every five years.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families said the position of qualified teachers working in academies would depend on the funding agreement for the individual school.

If this deal does not require them to register with the General Teaching Council, which will develop the scheme, announced this week, then they would not need a licence, a spokesman said.

John Bangs, NUT head of education, said: “I find this extraordinary. Aside from the absurdity of having to jump through an additional hurdle like licence to teach, the exemption of academies is a demonstration of the Government’s inequitable approach to schools.”

Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, said the Government had been working on the plan with its social partners “for some time following the Children’s Plan”, which was published in December 2007.

But several union leaders in the Government’s partnership have told The TES it was dropped on them as a “fait accompli” last month.

Mick Brookes, National Association of Head Teachers general secretary, said that he only learned of the plan the day before it was revealed.

“This has been announced without the social partners’ awareness and begins to convince me that the Government only wants to use the social partnership for things it wants for itself,” he said. “If it wants the partnership to work, it has to be a two-way process.”

The “licence to teach” is designed to be similar to the accreditation already in place for doctors and lawyers. To qualify for it, teachers will have to demonstrate to heads that their classroom skills, knowledge and training are up to date.

Mary Bousted, Association of Teachers and Lecturers general secretary, said she feared the scheme could amount to a “bully’s charter” for rogue heads.

It is planned to be introduced gradually from September 2010, when all newly qualified teachers beginning their jobs this September will have to gain a licence, along with teachers returning after a period away from the profession.

Mr Balls said returners to the profession would be able to teach without a licence until they had spent enough time teaching to allow heads to judge whether they should be awarded one.

Asked what would happen to teachers who were refused licences by heads, Mr Balls said: “They won’t be able to teach if they haven’t a licence.”

John Dunford, Association of School and College Leaders general secretary, said he would be pushing to ensure there was an adequate appeals process for teachers, otherwise schools could find themselves embroiled in court action.

The scheme was announced in a white paper that also proposed pupil and parent guarantees that could ultimately see schools that break them facing legal proceedings.

Mr Balls said the GTC would monitor the “licence to teach” and check that it was running smoothly.

But the Conservatives indicated that they would not continue with it if they form the next government.

Michael Gove, shadow schools secretary, said it was “another huge bureaucratic measure that will cost a fortune and cause all sorts of problems”. “We don’t support it,” he added.

by William Stewart: Published in The TES, 3 July 2009.

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‘Licence to teach’ to be required in schools

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Under the plans, teachers will face checks every five years to ensure they are fit to teach under reforms outlined by the government.

The renewable licence, which will be introduced first for newly-qualified teachers from next year, will be seen as a means of weeding out poor teachers.

To keep the licence, teachers have to demonstrate that they have “up-to-date skills and learning to be effective in the classroom”.

Mr Balls said: “This is not a problem we are addressing, although it may be that we will discover some teachers who do not make the grade and some who aren’t relicensed.”

He said the licence will put teachers on a par with high-status professions including doctors and solicitors.

The White Paper gives parents the legal right to take a school to court if they feel it is not meeting a new Parent Guarantee.

Under the guarantee, parents will have the right to clear information about their child’s schooling, closer involvement with their child’s progress through a designated personal tutor and more influence over the school.

Mr Balls said he believed legal action would be a last resort.

He said the first port of call for concerns would be the school’s governing body followed by appeals to outside agencies.

“If a parent feels that the school’s governing body, the local government Ombudsmen and the Secretary of State is not delivering, then in the end there is legal redress.”

He added: “Judicial review redress would be very much a last resort.”

The reforms also contained detailed proposals for the introduction of the US-style report card.

Every school will be ranked on a number of measures and given a final overall grade.

According to today’s proposals, half of the measures will be based on pupil attainment – the others include pupil and parent perceptions and pupil wellbeing, which includes discipline, attendance, sport and healthy eating.

Of the new licence to teach, Mr Balls said it would be overseen by the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) with heads deciding if a licence should be renewed.

He said: “We propose it will be the GTC who will be taking overall responsibility for the licence to teach.

“Our expectation will be that the accreditation will happen by head teachers in their schools, but with the GTC taking an overview and doing checks on a sample basis.”

He added: “If in the end there are teachers who move from school to school because they aren’t succeeding and that’s easier from the point of view of the school system than facing up to inadequacy then that’s something we need to look at.”

Doctors and solicitors already need a licence in order to practice.

Solicitors face a rigorous re-licensing process every year, and doctors are piloting a scheme in which licences are re-evaluated every five years. 20 Jun 2009.

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Teachers face sack under new classroom licence plan

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Teachers will need a licence to enter the classroom and face being banned if they cannot renew it every five years, the Government said yesterday.

The radical move, in a White Paper put before the Commons yesterday, will be widely seen as an attempt to weed out incompetent teachers and to stop bad teachers being shunted from school to school.

Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, indicated that he expected some teachers to fail their renewal. “It may be that we will discover some teachers who do not make the grade, and some who aren’t relicensed,” he said.

Newly qualified teachers would get a licence to teach from September. All teachers returning to the profession will go through the process from September next year, and supply teachers will be targeted after that. Eventually all teachers will need a licence.

Experts have estimated that more than 20,000 teachers are not fit to do their jobs, with one or two in each school. Heads privately complain that it is virtually impossible to sack poorly performing teachers.

Only ten teachers, out of a workforce of 500,000, have been fired for incompetence since 2001. Teaching unions attacked the plan for licences, saying that teachers already faced numerous accountability measures.

Mr Balls indicated his intentions in the Children’s Plan published in December 2007, in which he called on the General Teaching Council to root out teachers whose “competence falls to unacceptable low levels”.

Under the licence scheme, head teachers would provide written accreditation for teachers every five years, vouching for their ability, and the General Teaching Council would conduct an annual audit of about 5 to 10 per cent of teachers. The licence would go hand in hand with entitlement to professional development so that teachers could keep up with the latest teaching methods and technology.

Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “Teachers’ capacity and practice are persistently under review. It is not clear to me that head teachers will welcome an additional responsibility to relicense their teachers every five years.”

The licence was one of several radical reforms announced by Mr Balls in the White Paper. These include report cards, which will grade schools from A to F across a range of measures, including academic performance, children’s wellbeing and parental satisfaction.

Local authorities will also be forced to consult parents about whether they are happy with schools, and set out a plan of action if the results are negative. Parents will have to sign up to the school’s behaviour rules and reiterate this commitment each year. If it is breached, they could face a court imposed parenting order or a fine.

The Times, July 1, 2009.

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