This story by Will Hazell in the TES on 17th February 2018

Chief executive of Chartered College of Teaching says profession needs to be “really rigorous” about making sure it has “the right people”

The head of the Chartered College of Teaching has warned the government against doing anything that “lowers the bar” on the quality of individuals entering the profession.

Dame Alison Peacock said schools could not afford to “compromise” when it came to putting “the best people… in front of our children”.

Last month the Department for Education wrote to teacher training providers to inform them that it would be checking to see if they are rejecting suitable candidates.

Nick Gibb, the minister for school standards, said that providers had to ensure they were “assessing applicants based on their suitability to train to teach, rather than whether they are ready to teach at the point of entry”.

This week Mr Gibb also announced that candidates would be able to have unlimited resits of the professional skills tests that must be passed before anyone can enter initial teacher training.

The changes have prompted concerns that the government is lowering the bar in response to the teacher recruitment crisis.

When asked about these changes at the Chartered College’s annual conference in London this morning, Dame Alison told Tes: “I wouldn’t want us to do anything that lowers the bar.”

She said the government had to strike a “difficult balance” between being “welcoming to those that will make a difference to our children and young people” and insisting on high standards.

“As I was standing on the door this morning welcoming everybody, a colleague arrived who’s a drama specialist. She was saying ‘it’s fantastic that they’ve shifted the position on those initial tests’.

“It may well be that to be a fantastic drama teach you don’t also need to be a mathematician. On the other hand… if you are teaching mathematics and you can’t pass an initial test for a number of times I would be worried.”

Dame Alison said there should be “flexibility at the point of entry”, but added: “I don’t think we should compromise when it comes to who are the best people to put in front of our children.”

“It is about how we grow everybody that we’ve got, and being really rigorous about making sure that they’re the right people – we can’t compromise on that.”

Dame Alison said the school system needed to do “everything we can to address some of the issues that teachers are talking about all the time around workload, around hyper accountability, around exhaustion frankly”.

She said that the Chartered College had the support of the new education secretary, Damian Hinds, and that it was recruiting “about a thousand members a month”.

“One of the things that was levelled at us in the early days when we were promoting the Chartered College was… ‘well when is it going to go beyond Twitter?’

“Well it has… one of the aspirations for the college, that I hope we’re achieving today, is that we genuinely celebrate teacher voice and genuinely listen to colleagues who wouldn’t be the edu-celebs who normally come to conferences.”

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