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MORRIS SETS OUT HER VISION FOR TEACHERS AND TEACHING IN RALLYING CRY TO PROFESSION

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Education and skills secretary Estelle Morris today set out her vision for a confident, highly-motivated and well-r...
Education and skills secretary Estelle Morris today set out her vision for a confident, highly-motivated and well-respected teaching profession, focussed on delivering the very best education that all pupils deserve.

Reaching out directly to teachers, Estelle Morris described the steps that will ensure we have world-class teachers in world-class schools, working in partnership with the government to deliver even higher standards in the classroom.

Speaking at the Social Market Foundation, she outlined her picture of the school of the future where:

- classrooms are rich in trained adults - such as technicians, learning mentors, teaching assistants and administrative staff - who support learning to new high standards

- heads and teachers use ICT as a tool to lever up pupil standards and help teachers make better use of their time

- teachers are freed to concentrate on planning high-quality lessons by making full use of teaching assistants and other trained adults

- heads use resources imaginatively to organise, manage and reward staff effectively

- pupils have lessons tailored to their individual needs - allowing us to move beyond arguments about selection and how we group pupils

Estelle Morris said:

'Teachers are a priceless national asset. I am in no doubt that today's pupils are

benefiting from the best generation of teachers we have ever had. But I am not complacent, and I know that we are some way yet from building the strong, confident, elite profession that I - and teachers - want for our children. To do this we need to put the learning needs of the individual pupil at the centre of everything we do.

'As our nation's aspirations rise, so do the demands we place on our teachers. And it is right that we ask more of teachers, because we know we are capable of delivering even higher standards for pupils. In return I offer a new trust from government to the teaching profession within the accountability framework we've already set down.

'I want teachers to be free to get back to what they do best - teaching. To do this we must take a long, hard look at how teachers are working now, and then embrace new and radical ways of working. To achieve this we need to see a remodelling not just of the teaching profession but of schools, staffing, school management and the way we use ICT. This will build on the creative use of teaching assistants that many schools are making already. We need to see a mix of staff fulfilling complementary roles - qualified teachers alongside trained classroom assistants, learning mentors and technicians.

'The government knows its responsibilities in helping this happen. That is why we have commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to look at teachers' workload and make recommendations, the final report of which will be published later this year. And we do not rule out further investment; but any further resources must quite clearly be on a 'something-for-something' basis. We recognise that teachers need more time in theworking week to plan high-quality lessons, and we are willing to engage in a debate on how best to deliver that.

'We've got a strong base to build on: more teachers than at any time since the 1980s; an attractive pay system which rewards through golden hellos, loan write-offs and a£2,000 performance threshold payment; and continued investment in continuous professional development for teachers.

'There are those who are not brave enough to work with us to help build a teaching profession that becomes a source of national pride and the envy of the world. And there are those who recoil cynically from reform whenever it is mooted. But I for one am not afraid to tackle these issues together with teachers and parents. Our children deserve nothing less.'

Notes

1. Estelle Morris spoke at the Social Market Foundation. There she launched a document Professionalism and Trust - The Future of Teachers and Teaching. Copies are available from LGCnet.

2. PwC were commissioned by DfES in March 2001 to undertake a study of teacher workload, in response to one of the recommendations made by the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) in its 2001 report. The work is being overseen by a steering group that includes representatives from all the teacher and headteacher associations, the local authority employers, and the national assembly for Wales and OFSTED. An interim report was published in August 2001, based on fieldwork in 48 schools. It identified a number of key 'issues' such as the intensive nature of the teachers' working week; the fact that teachers are undertaking tasks that could be carried out by other staff; the need for more effective use of ICT; the potential for more time for planning and professional development; evidence of wide variations in how workload is managed at school level; and the need for national agencies to take more account of the impact on teachers' workload of new initiatives and programmes. These interim findings were further tested in phase 2, which looked at practical ways of addressing workload issues. The draft final report, available later today, sets out the options considered. The final report is expected at the end of November. This will then be referred to the STRB.

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