Skip to main content

Teaching Profession

Volume 575: debated on Monday 10 February 2014

13. What steps his Department is taking to raise the status, professionalism and morale of the teaching profession. (902481)

Our reforms are making teaching a profession of choice for top graduates. Scholarships and bursaries are attracting the very best, and teaching is now the No. 1 destination for graduates from top universities such as Oxford.

Surveys by YouGov have shown that teacher morale is plummeting under this Government. Why does the Minister think that that is happening?

I do not accept the hon. Lady’s characterisation of teaching. If it were accurate, we would not see such huge numbers of people applying to become teachers or such an increase in the average university qualifications that teachers are getting. I would also point out that we now have the most generous system ever for funding disadvantaged young people in schools, which is giving teachers the resources to do their job effectively.

Am I correct in thinking that the Government are reforming teachers’ pay so as to give schools greater flexibility to pay the best teachers more and to reward good performance? Could anyone possibly be against teachers having the performance-related pay arrangements that apply in other professions? Can there be any possible justification for teachers taking industrial action in our schools?

My right hon. Friend is right to say that we are reforming teachers’ pay. We are ensuring that there are fair increases in their pay in these times of austerity, and that head teachers have the flexibility to reward good teachers, particularly in the most challenging schools. What the position of the other parties is on this matter I could not possibly say.

The development of a royal college of teaching should rightly be led by teaching professionals, but will the Minister examine which functions from his Department relating to professional matters and standards could transfer to a royal college? Will he consider offering arm’s length financial support to help it get up and running?

My hon. Friend rightly says that it would be a positive development if we were to have a royal college of teaching. Our Department is willing to play a constructive role in any discussions about the functions of such a body, which would particularly be in respect of professional development for teachers. We do not believe it would be right for our Department to seek to run such an organisation; we would want it to be independent of the Department for Education, but we are willing to do all we can to support such an initiative.