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David Cameron promises a "brazenly elitist" approach to teacher recruitment

Scroll down for the 11am update

CAMERON-in-classroomA fortnight after the party published the first chapter from its draft election manifesto - on health - today it is education which David Cameron is putting centre-stage.

And he will be seeking to emphasise his desire to make teaching a "noble profession" again as he and Michael Gove visit a central London school this morning to launch what the party leader will describe as "a comprehensive programme of reform to elevate the status of teaching in our country".

As he is due to explain:

"At the moment, not enough of our brightest people consider going into teaching, especially those in the subjects we need – like maths and in the schools that would benefit most from their knowledge – tough inner-city ones... Finland, Singapore and South Korea have the most highly qualified teachers and also some of the best education systems in the world because they have deliberately made teaching a high prestige profession. They are brazenly elitist – making sure only the top graduates can apply."

David Cameron says that Britain should be "equally bold" and to that end proposes:

  • Only those with a 2:2 degree or higher will get funding for postgraduate teacher training;
  • Anyone with a first or 2:1 in maths or a rigorous science degree who wants to teach can apply to have their student loan paid off;
  • Anyone seeking to teach in primary schools should have at least a B in English and Maths at GCSE - not a C as at present;
  • The establishment of Teach Now, a one-stop-shop for professional people who want to transfer into teaching, which would fast-track them into schools.

More will follow later as further details emerge. In the meantime, click here to hear Michael Gove discuss the issues on this morning's Today programme.

11am update:

In addition to the measures previewed above, Mr Cameron used his speech at Walworth Academy to emphasise other important areas of Conservative thinking on education.

Picture 15 He said that a Conservative Government would do more to support head teachers in removing poorly performing teachers and, moreover, give them the flexibility to reward the best-performing teachers:

"Once we get the best teachers, we need to make sure they stay teaching, and that means making sure their reward is a fair reflection of how well they’ve done and how hard they’ve worked. We need much greater flexibility than currently exists - flexibility over rewarding the best and yes, getting rid of the worst. So we will free schools to pay good teachers more. With our plans, head teachers will have the power to use their budgets to pay bonuses to the best teachers. And because the evidence shows that schools that have the greatest impact in poorer areas are the ones that extend their hours into evenings and weekends, we will also give them the flexibility to reward teachers for longer hours."

He also reiterated his desire to ensure teachers had the right power to instill discipline in the classroom:

"It’s time we tilted the scales back into the favour of teachers. That’s what we will do. We’re going to say to our teachers, if you want to search for and confiscate any item you think is dangerous or disruptive- you can. If you want to remove violent children from the classroom – you can. And if you want protection from false allegations of abuse that wreck lives and wreck careers – we’ll make sure you have it. We will also give our schools the final say over expulsion."

And in the spirit of the post-bureaucratic age, a theme that increasingly runs through all policy areas, there will be more transparency and accountability:

"We’re going to demand greater transparency so parents can hold teachers to account. We will let every parent know how much their school receives to spend on their child’s education. We will combine this information with details on the academic performance of local schools and of other schools with similar intakes and levels of funding. We will give parents the accurate information they want to challenge under-performance and the freedom they need take their children elsewhere if they’re not happy."

The draft schools section of the Conservative manifesto has now been published and can be downloaded here.

Jonathan Isaby


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