National standards for teacher training and continuing professional development will be set by the Teacher Training Agency, it was announced this week.
A programme for improving the quality of teachers, which has been given the go-ahead by Gillian Shephard, Secretary of State for Education and Employment, will include the creation of a national framework of levels of competence in the teaching profession, Anthea Millett, TTA chief executive, said.
The framework will set targets for teachers at four key stages in the profession - the newly-qualified, "expert" teachers, experts in subject leadership and management, and experts in school leadership and management.
It will pave the way for the introduction of national standards which would apply to courses delivered in universities, as well as in-service training in schools.
Giving the TTA's first annual lecture on teacher education and training, Ms Millett said a first step would be to clarify standards for the award of Qualified Teacher Status. "Through clearer competencies we can help improve training and sharpen the attention paid in ITT courses to subject knowledge in order to establish the high, but realistic expectations our pupils deserve," she said.
Sharper national standards were also needed on in-service training courses, run by universities and colleges as well as schools. "Teachers spend a great deal of time and effort on in-service training and some of that is wasted," she added.
Top priority would be given to training in school leadership, middle management in secondary schools, specialist training for primary teachers, teaching of early years children and 14-19 year-olds, special needs, use of information technology and increasing teachers' key stage 2 subject knowledge.