Headlines: November 13th, 2001

There’s conflict over how to solve the problems of teacher numbers.The Government is increasingly saying that despite major initiatives to recruit more teachers – recruiting more qualified staff into the classroom is not the only answer to improving both the quality of education and a teacher’s daily routine.

However the NUT has dismissed plans to see people not professionally qualified as teachers – such as teaching assistants – being put in charge of some classes. The union is worried that the ideas will be used to cheapen the cost of class teaching.

Education Secretary Estelle Morris signalled in the recent White Paper that she envisaged a modernisation of the roles and responsibilities of teachers – opening up the possibility of good teachers working across more than one school, or even in further education. The White Paper also pointed to how some lessons, while still planned by a teacher, might be delivered via a software programme with no qualified teacher presence.

In a speech to the Social Market Foundation yesterday (Monday, November 12), she tried to explain her broader vision for the role of teachers – heading classrooms rich in other trained adults, freer to concentrate on planning high-quality lessons and giving individual attention to children.

She said the only way that the increasing demands on teachers could be met would be to embrace new and radical ways of working. The Government currently has PricewaterhouseCoopers conducting a study into how to tackle teachers’ increasing workload.

The Education Secretary’s plans are set out in Professionalism and Trust – The Future of Teachers and Teaching. Copies are available from the Social Market Foundation (020 7222 7060 or info@smf.co.uk).