In the four days I spent at the annual Congress, I can tell you that prime minister Theresa May's controversial announcement last week on creating new grammars was certainly hotly debated, especially as part of the emergency motion opposing the plans tabled by ATL.
But, as I said in my blog last week, whatever your views on proposals to increase academic selection, the discussion is largely a distraction from a host of far more pressing education issues.
The government will have legal hurdles to face if it wants to lift the ban on new grammars, meaning they could be some way off. Just round the corner, however, is the prospect of scrapping QTS and introducing in its place an accreditation system whereby headteachers will decide whether a trainee has reached the standard to be a qualified teacher, proposals outlined in the white paper Educational Excellence Everywhere.
In all the furore over new grammars, this issue, which I proposed a motion on at Congress, may have slipped under the radar. There’s no doubt that expecting heads to accredit new entrants places yet more responsibility and work on headteachers when they already have more than enough to do.
In the speech I gave to propose motion 10, Undermining education professionals hurts pupils, calling for the plans to be withdrawn, I warned Congress that scrapping QTS and replacing it with local accreditation opens the door to a non-graduate profession. The motion, which was carried by Congress, also stated that local accreditation will damage staff morale and push people away from teaching at a time of recruitment and retention crisis.
“No education system can exceed the quality of teachers,” I pointed out.
Heads have been warning of a recruitment crisis in teaching but nobody has been listening. Between 2011/14 vacancies and a temporary filled positions have doubled.
As I told Congress: “The problem is there are so many different routes in teacher training it confuses applicants. Instead of making it easier, the government has decided to abolish QTS, which is well-recognised and highly-portable.”
“The threat of the government’s proposals is real, it is present and it is dangerous.” The motion was carried and now we need to work hard to lobby the government to rethink this proposal. With so many looming problems, it is great news that Mary Bousted has been elected TUC president and that she has pledged to make education a key priority in her presidential year.
What do you think about the proposal to give heads responsibility for accrediting trainees? Tweet me and let me know.