Skip to main content

Qualified Teacher Status

Volume 587: debated on Monday 27 October 2014

3. What assessment she has made of the effect of her Department’s policy on qualified teacher status on educational outcomes. (905630)

Pupils have the best chance ever of attending a good or outstanding school. That is thanks, in no small part, to the quality of the teachers in those schools. In fact, the number of teachers who do not hold degrees has fallen by almost half since 2010. Our policy is to put our trust in the professionalism of head teachers, who are best placed to recognise outstanding teaching and recruit the best possible teachers for their schools.

Perhaps the Secretary of State could clarify which of the eight requirements in the 2011 teaching standards should not apply to every teacher in every classroom?

I note that, as a Scottish Member of Parliament, the hon. Gentleman is asking about English educational standards, but I am happy to answer his question. I wondered whether he might apply for the job of the Labour party’s leader in Scotland, but I see that he is here. There are fewer unqualified teachers in state-funded schools than there were in 2010. The Government trust head teachers to get in the best possible people to broaden young minds.

Does the Secretary of State not agree that, up and down the land, there are some outstanding and inspiring teachers who do not hold professional qualifications? The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Tristram Hunt), for example, brags that he sometimes teaches in Stoke schools when they allow him and that he has taught a primary school about the armada, of all things. Is he really the sort of person who should not be allowed into a school?

My hon. Friend tempts me to speculate on the shadow Secretary of State’s qualifications to teach in schools. He is absolutely right that it is for heads and teachers to decide who is best qualified to teach in their schools. In state funded schools, 96% of teachers hold qualified teacher status. The figure is 97% in maintained schools and 95% in academies.

Last week, I visited schools in Warrington, Chester and Milton Keynes. Will the Secretary of State tell the House why children in those places do not deserve to be taught by teachers who can

“Adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils”;

who can “Manage behaviour effectively”; and who can

“be aware of pupils’ capabilities…and plan teaching to build on these”?

It is interesting that the hon. Gentleman should stick, yet again, to qualified teacher status. We all saw what happened when he tried to introduce his new policy of a Hippocratic oath for teachers, which was condemned by the “Left Foot Forward” blog as “patronising”. I see that he had to turn to Twitter for inspiration for his questions today. He could have asked questions about so many subjects. Instead, he talks about the 3% of teachers who are unqualified. Why does he not talk about the 97% of teachers in our schools who are qualified and who are doing a brilliant job? Why does he not talk about trusting heads and teachers to have the best possible qualified staff in their schools?

What guff! Clearly the Secretary of State does not value those teaching skills. They are the criteria of the 2011 teaching standards that are used to determine qualified teacher status, which her Government have abandoned. Warrington, Chester and Milton Keynes have all seen rises in the number of unqualified teachers. Given that the quality of teaching is the most important determinant of success, will she confirm that the Tory party has gone soft on standards and is putting ideology above the interests of pupils?

Well, what wishful thinking and, indeed, guff from the hon. Gentleman. If he wants to talk about the quality of teachers, he needs to look at the outcomes. This country has more good and outstanding schools than in 2010. He ought to listen to the families who want their children to be taught well. If he is so worried about unqualified teachers, what does he say to the schools in Stoke that allow him in to teach?