Teachers to face tough driving-test style assessments before qualifying in classroom

Applicants will have to show subject expertise in front of headteacher and an expert from another school before becoming a fully fledged teacher

Teachers will face a tough new driving-test style assessment in future before they are qualified to teach in the classroom.

A White Paper published on 17 March shows ministers are planning to scrap the current system of awarding teachers Qualified Teacher Status after completing a probationary year in a school.

Instead, they will have to prove they can control a classroom and show their subject expertise in front of their headteacher and an expert from another school before they become a fully fledged teacher.

The best and most competent teachers can still qualify within a year but it could up to 10 years in the classroom before some teachers pass the test.

The White Paper, Education Excellence Everywhere, describes the new accreditation as “a stronger more challenging accreditation based on a teacher’s effectiveness in the classroom, as judged by great schools”.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said the proposal “goes further than any Government has done to recognise teachers as the professionals they are”.

In a speech on 17 March, she added that the proposals were “devo-max in the truest sense of the word” - giving schools and heads more control over their own destinies.

The move was welcomed by secondary headteachers with Malcolm Trobe, acting general secretary of the Association of Schools and Colleges saying: “We believe this will help to ensure the highest standards and that it will be good for both new teachers and for schools.”

However, Mary Bousted, general secretary of the association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the idea was “highly problematic”, adding:  At a time when school budgets are being cut in real terms, there will be pressure on school leaders to delay accreditation as a way of saving wage costs.”

The plan is one of a series of reforms outlined in the White Paper - which includes the call announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his Budget to turn every school into an academy.

The White Paper identifies “cold spots” where education provision in state schools is weak - such as coastal towns and parts of the North-East.  Ministers plan to set up a National Teaching service which ensures the most talented teachers are sent into the worst-performing schools to improve standards.

Other plans include giving failing schools a breathing space to turn things round once a new head is appointed or the school is taken over by a new sponsor.  A new head will not normally face an inspection by education standards watchdog Ofsted until he or she has been in post for 30 months - while a sponsor can expect to be given until their third year to turn a school around before an inspection.

This is to avoid heads facing the sack after just three to six months before they have had the chance to make improvements.

Ministers say they expect most schools to become part of Multi Academy Trusts (MATs), running a number of schools – possibly in different areas of the country. MATs will be judged by league tables - in the same way as individual schools are assessed on their exam results at present.

In addition, ministers plan to remove the requirement for schools to have an elected parent representative on their governing body - on the grounds that they should concentrate on appointing individuals such as business representatives who have the skills to run a school.  A strengthened complaints procedure will be brought in, though, to allow parents to voice any grievances they have.

The White Paper also signals the creation of more University Technical Colleges for 14 to 19-year-olds - which specialise in developing pupils’ skills in areas like construction and engineering. “We are committed to ensure there is a UTC within reach of every city so that increasing numbers of young people can benefit from this kind of education,” it says.

The plans were condemned by Labour whose Shadow Education Secretary Lucy Powell said: “There is no evidence that this agenda will raise standards

“The White Paper does little to address the real issues facing education today: teacher shortages - particularly in the key subjects of maths, English and science, of a crisis in school places, of a widening attainment gap between the disadvantaged and the rest.

“In this challenging context, to ask school leaders to take time away from educating children and to spend money, mainly on lawyers to convert to an academy is irresponsible.”

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