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Teachers must be qualified - Hunt

Teachers in all state schools will have to be fully qualified under a Labour government, amid concerns that many children are still being denied high-quality teaching, according to Tristram Hunt.

In a speech, the shadow education secretary is due to say that the current Government's policy of allowing unqualified individuals to teach in academies and free schools will be scrapped.

There would also be new career routes for teachers which would allow them to specialise in a certain subject or in teaching skills, and more chances for professional development.

Mr Hunt is due to tell the North of England Education Conference in Nottingham: "Reform of teaching is part of a wider story about how Labour will build a One Nation economy so that we can earn our way out of the cost-of-living crisis. We can only do that if we raise standards so our teaching is world class in every school - rejecting David Cameron's policy of allowing unqualified teachers into our classrooms.

"We have the best generation of teachers ever in our schools. But too many children are still denied the high-quality teaching they deserve. We need to keep improving if we are to deliver for every child and to keep pace. My priority as Education Secretary in the next Labour Government would be to make sure we have the best generation of teachers in the world - a highly qualified, inspiring, self-motivating and dedicated professional workforce.

"International evidence is clear: the quality of teaching - not an obsessive focus on the type of school - is what drives up standards. David Cameron and Michael Gove have watered down standards, allowing unqualified teachers into schools on a permanent basis.

"Under Labour, all teachers will have to become qualified, teachers will be given greater opportunities to further their career progression and development and, as in other high status professions, teachers will be regularly revalidated."

Mr Hunt's speech comes just days after Labour announced plans to introduce licences for teachers, saying that regular checks would help give the professional the same standing as doctors and lawyers.

A similar proposal was floated by the previous Labour government - and branded "classroom MoTs" by former schools secretary Ed Balls.

However, it was opposed by some teaching unions and dropped before the 2010 general election.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: "It is certainly reassuring to hear that the Labour Party is committed to every teacher in state-funded schools having Qualified Teacher Status. We also welcome the recognition that it is teachers and not the type of school which deliver a good education for children and young people."

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: "We are pleased Tristram Hunt wants to restore the professional standing of teachers. It's a welcome contrast to Michael Gove believing that anyone with a first class degree, a bit of personality and a loud voice can be a good teacher, and with the Government's default position of blaming teachers whenever education policy goes wrong."

She added: " However, we are disappointed that Tristram Hunt's proposals for a licence to teach are linked to sacking teachers who are under-performing."

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "We believe that state schools should enjoy the same advantage that private schools have to bring great linguists, computer scientists, engineers and other specialists into the classroom, where it is right for them. It is entirely up to headteachers who they employ and we trust their judgment in getting the mix right for the pupils they know best.

"Teaching has never been more attractive, more popular or more rewarding and it is a measure of our success that a record number of top graduates are now applying to become teachers."


From Belfast Telegraph