The National Union of Teachers is urging its members to send messages of opposition to the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families over the issue of teacher licensing. The union is highlighting the insincerity of the government as it fails to provide additional funding for teachers’ continuing professional development.
The government’s plans, outlined in a White Paper, will require teachers to be re-licensed every five years from September 2010 – despite the fact that there is no shortage of accountability measures against which teachers are judged. These include performance management, inspections by Ofsted, capability procedures, school league tables, local authority interventions and performance-related pay.
“Teachers already face a raft of accountability measures from initial teaching training, performance management and Ofsted inspections,” said NUT General Secretary Christine Blower. With so many hoops already for teachers to jump through, the climate of constant surveillance is already having a negative impact on teachers being creative or taking risks. Moreover, the licence is to be approved by head teachers – hardly reassuring when in many schools it has been established that a “bully” culture is operated, instead of a genuine educational leadership. Objectivity and impartiality are unlikely to be dominant in the licensing process in many schools.
Obviously, this bureaucratic proposal will provoke internecine strife, but the reason for its introduction lies in the government’s fear of teacher professionalism. It is yet another attempt to curtail, curb and restrict teacher confidence; another effort to police the profession by adding another dose of uncertainty and anxiety to the educational landscape.