MPs demand teacher training shake-up

Select committee wants higher entry requirements and an end to undergraduate-level provision. John Morgan reports

February 9, 2010

Entry requirements for teacher training courses in higher education are too low and undergraduate programmes in this area should be scrapped, according to a committee of MPs.

The Government should ultimately aim to restrict entry to postgraduate teacher training to those with a 2:1 degree or above, the House of Commons Children, Schools and Families Committee says in a report published on 9 February.

The cross-party panel of MPs criticise the “particularly low” entry requirements on undergraduate courses for those wanting to teach in secondary schools, saying funding for such programmes should cease.

They add that universities should involve research-active staff in teacher training courses to raise the “rigour and status” of the programmes.

Barry Sheerman, the committee chairman, said: “Teaching must be seen as an attractive career option for high-achieving individuals. Entry requirements should be raised, and there must be better support for teachers once they are in post.”

The report suggests that the Government should move to restrict access to postgraduate certificates in education to those with at least a 2:2 degree “as soon as possible”, with a longer-term goal to move to a minimum 2:1 requirement.

David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party, has already put forward similar proposals.

The report also supports a new masters in teaching and learning qualification, adding that teaching should become a masters-level profession.

“While we do not believe that the masters in teaching and learning should be compulsory, we would like to see introduced much stronger incentives for teachers to complete a relevant qualification at masters level or above,” the report says.

It criticises universities for not engaging expert staff in teacher training.

“Higher education institutions are important in bringing rigour and status to initial teacher training,” it says. “With this in mind, we were disappointed that research-active staff do not make a greater contribution to training.

“We recommend that the Training and Development Agency and Ofsted pay greater attention to this aspect of provision when accrediting and inspecting initial teacher training providers.

“Providers’ arrangements for developing the research skills and profiles of other teacher training staff should also be taken into consideration.”

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