More needs to be done to recognise and venerate the achievements of professional teachers, according to the Member of Parliament for Stockton North, and the first step towards realising this is to ensure that all teachers are rigorously trained to the highest standards and that the merits of the qualifications are properly recognised.
He also stressed the need for teachers to be more highly valued by their communities – and the need for politicians to lead the way on that.
Speaking during a debate in the House of Commons, Alex Cunningham highlighted how such training drives high standards amongst teachers, which in turn uphold the high quality teaching that is essential to driving progress and inspiring our young people to realise their full potential.
Despite the Secretary of State repeatedly acknowledging the importance of teacher prestige, and the Prime Minister citing research revealing that teacher quality is the single most important factor in educational progress, focus has been lost and the status of teaching has been downgraded under the Tory-led Government by allowing unqualified teachers into classrooms on a permanent basis.
“The Coalition has ridden roughshod over teaching standards, removing the requirement for from funding agreements for non-maintained schools while loosening restrictions on state-funded schools hiring non-qualified teachers as long as the school considers it appropriate. Shockingly, SENCOs aside, there is no requirement for state-funded schools to employ qualified teachers.
“This is wholly different from the flexibility that, contrary to popular belief, was previously afforded to schools to employ persons with particular expertise, such as talented artists, actors or musicians, and makes a mockery of the entire education system.
“We need great teachers at all levels, each one properly trained and equipped to deliver a modern education, based on an up-to-date understanding of developments in teaching practice, specific subject knowledge and the latest in educational tools and technology.
“These are the standards that we must foster if we are to continue to raise attainment and rival the best education systems in the world.
“But we must also recognise that learning does not stop once a teacher becomes qualified. Quite the contrary, in fact. To be a great teacher requires continued hard work and dedication both inside and outside of the classroom, training to remain on top of the latest developments in educational principles and technology while having opportunities to refresh and develop additional skills.”