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Schools: Teachers

Volume 692: debated on Tuesday 12 June 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How they influence the practice of teachers and teaching assistants; and [HL4070]

How they ensure that all teachers in England and Wales remain up-to-date with the latest education research; and [HL4071]

How they ensure that the provision of professional development for teachers is of a high quality or is provided to a minimum standard. [HL4072]

There are a number of ways in which the Government influence the practice of teachers and teaching assistants. Education legislation provides the context in which teachers and teaching assistants work and may make specific requirements of them.

Other examples that relate specifically to influencing teachers' practice include: the school teachers' pay and conditions document which sets out the details of the teacher contract and professional standards which set out the standards teachers need to meet to progress in their careers. Examples in relation to the practice of teaching assistants include: regulations which set out the specific circumstances in which support staff, including teaching assistants, can carry out “specified work”; a set of professional standards against which teaching assistants and higher level teaching assistants can be assessed; and a variety of training support for teaching assistants, such as an induction programme and national vocational qualifications at levels 2 and 3. The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) working with the Workforce Agreement Monitoring Group, the national strategies, and other specific initiatives promote good practice and provide guidance and training and development in various ways. Ofsted's judgments about teaching and learning also influence practice in schools.

A revised framework of professional standards for teachers will be introduced from September 2007 which sets out requirements about teachers' professional attributes, their professional knowledge and understanding and their professional skills at each career stage. They include, for example, that all teachers from induction onwards should have a good, up-to-date knowledge and understanding of a range of teaching, learning and behaviour management strategies and know how to adapt and use them. Having an awareness of relevant education research would be consistent with achieving this standard. The standards for Excellent Teachers and Advanced Skills Teachers also require teachers to draw on research outcomes and other sources of external evidence to inform their own practice and that of colleagues.

The Government have given the TDA a remit for teachers' continuing professional development (CPD) that includes monitoring the quality and coverage of CPD and providing clear, high quality guidance to schools on CPD and giving leadership to local authorities. The TDA's latest advice to Ministers included proposals for a range of measures that will help schools to plan and evaluate CPD and quality assure CPD. The TDA is now taking its work forward with social partners.