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Teaching Standards

Volume 533: debated on Monday 17 October 2011

Nothing has more impact on a child’s achievement than the quality of the teaching that they receive. We are raising the bar for new teachers, supporting existing teachers to improve and making it easier for head teachers to tackle underperformance among teachers who cannot meet the required standards.

I thank the Minister for his answer, but exactly how will he raise the bar to ensure that we get the best possible new entrants into the teaching profession?

We are offering strong financial incentives to the best trainees, and are consulting on issuing bursaries of up to £20,000 to the best trainees in priority subjects. We are also expanding and doubling the successful Teach First programme and introducing trips for teachers to bring the skills of service leavers into schools. We will ensure that all trainees have a good understanding of maths and English, by requiring them to take tests prior to entering initial teacher training. We are reviewing the qualified teacher status standards under the excellent chairmanship of Sally Coates, the principal of Burlington Danes academy. I could go on, Mr Speaker, but I will stop there.

Does the Minister think that lessening teachers’ employment protection and worsening their terms and conditions will improve or diminish teachers’ morale?

That is not our policy. Teachers in academies are generally paid more. What we are doing is reviewing the performance management regulations to make it easier for head teachers to tackle underperformance in our schools and to bring the employment regulations in schools in line with employment practices in other professions and industries.

Does the Minister feel, as I do, that the quality of teaching is adversely affected by the recently reported high number of false complaints made by children against teachers? If so, what sort of protection can the Government give innocent teachers who are put in that situation?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise the issue. For a teacher to have an accusation made against them by a pupil, which ultimately turns out to be false, can have a devastating impact on not only their career but their private life. We are therefore determined to do all we can to protect teachers, to enable them to maintain discipline and improve behaviour in our schools. That is why the Education Bill, which is currently going through another place, has a provision giving school teachers anonymity in the reporting of such accusations in the press.