The first topic we want to discuss is ‘The Purpose of Education’ which we believe is fundamental in steering the future of education policy in the right direction. We have posed a series of questions to stimulate discussion on this topic however, we want you to let us have your views. Please suggest a debate on this first topic by leaving your comments in the box on the right, or go to the debate page to see the topics already being discussed.

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    The quality of teaching and teachers

    Improving the quality of teachers and teaching is generally recognised as being crucial to improving outcomes for students and the performance of an education system.

    Improving the quality of teachers and teaching is generally recognised as being crucial to improving outcomes for students and the performance of an education system. Students who learn with the best teachers can progress up to three times as fast as those placed with low-performing teachers. Improving the quality of teachers and teaching involves:
    • attracting the most able graduates into the profession
    • operating initial teacher education programmes that balance knowledge about how children develop and learn with classroom experience that equips trainees to diagnose problems swiftly and accurately, use data effectively and apply a rich repertoire of approaches to meet the needs of different students
    • creating professional development pathways that encourage teachers to have high expectations of themselves and their students and that view teacher education, induction and ongoing development as an integrated learning continuum
    • supporting teachers to be expert ‘knowledge workers’ constantly striving to improve their classroom practice. Crucially this needs to be done by teachers working together. Institutionalising improved practice (ensuring the consistency and quality of teaching across a school or group of schools) comes from teachers within and across schools planning lessons together, observing each other’s practice, reviewing the evidence on effective interventions and trialing and assessing with students the impact of teaching and learning innovations
    • identifying leading practitioners and relieving them of some or all of their teaching duties so that they can model practice, provide instruction to their peers and coach other colleagues
    • putting in place effective and rigorous teacher performance management.


    • What are the characteristics of an excellent teacher?
    • Would the establishment of a Royal College of Teaching help raise the esteem and quality of practice of teachers?
    Phase II: Improving the quality of teaching and learning and the leadership of learning
    Total replies: 11 Last comment: 25 Aug 14
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Agree (7)

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  1. ‹ Latest comment

    Tanya Perry, Teacher/other staff

    A school for teaching may help raise esteem, but the problem is how teachers are portrayed by the media. The media damages the esteem of the teaching profession frequently.

    Comment on this Comment made: 25 AUG 2014

    Mark Maybury, Education stakeholder

    An excellent teacher has the ability to communicate, engage, enthuse and at times entertain their students. They know their students, for example what makes them happy, sad, what wakes them up in the morning and how to stretch them to achieve their best. However, great teaching can't happen in isolation. Great teaching has to be shared because we need to be learning as well. If we are not prepared to learn how can we expect our students to learn? Methods to support collaborative practice and peer review are a must. Teachers need to be given time to plan, observe and review together in order to continually develop their skills. Technology can be a great enabler to support this. For example a secure portal where teachers can model good practice, share great ideas and provide mutual support will also help. Where schools value high quality professional development and invests in their staff, it is most likely that you will come across great teaching in abundance.

    Comment on this Comment made: 13 MAR 2014

    Jessica Austin-Burdett, Teacher/other staff

    I generally Agree, BUT I must say that excellent practitioners must not have their teaching load removed completely, as that is where their expertise arises! Look at the disconnect between expectations and realities where senior teachers spend so little time in the classroom that they forget the demands of the day and expect more and more unrealistic outcomes/ approaches etc from their staff.

    Comment on this Comment made: 16 FEB 2014

    Lesley Kirby, School/college leader

    An excellent teacher:
    - is intelligent
    - is very knowledgeable about her/his subject and understands the common mistakes people make in this subject
    - is able to translate that knowledge into classroom-ready content
    - works very hard to prepare lessons which reflect a deep knowledge of her/his students and their capacities and prior learning
    - believes all her/his students can succeed and imbues the students with the confidence to do so
    - is creative enough to design interesting and engaging lessons
    - is deeply reflective and uses this ability to seek to become the best possible practitioner they can be

    Comment on this Comment made: 27 DEC 2013

    Paul Hopkins, Academic

    It is easy to drop into anecdotal mode but there has been considerable research into effective teaching and effective teachers. Whilst I agree with most of the points in the list of the debate starter we have to ask about the metric about, for example, "the most able graduate". This is often equated with degree class but there is no strong evidence to show that there is a correlation between degree class and an excellent teachers - with the expect ion of those working in sixth form.

    The PD pathways do seem to be important and the 'reflective practitioner' but this requires time and dedication and often prolonged periods of reflection and implementation rather than a "1 day course on ...." - a serious commitment to a masters levels profession might support this.

    A Royal College of Teaching may help - but should be a partnership between practitioners and researchers (including those who are both) and should exclude polititians and those with a vested financial interest.

    Comment on this Comment made: 03 DEC 2013

    Myles Pilling

    Will the skill range needed to cope with ALL needs be possible for teachers to aquire?

    Comment on this Comment made: 25 NOV 2013

    Betsy Fowler, Education stakeholder

    A teacher's passion for the role, developed teaching skills, specialist subject knowledge and a love of learning enable quality experiences in the class room that will inspire children to learn

    Comment on this Comment made: 23 NOV 2013

    Tony Smith, School/college leader

    There is no 'formula' for great teaching. Too much time and effort has been put into trying to define outstanding teaching in an effort to transplant this into 'any school'.
    Great teaching inspires young people, it motivates them to want to learn, it allows the learner to experience 'failure' or mistakes. Great teachers do achieve impressive progress and outcomes but this is a journey. Every student is different and great teachers understand how to meet the needs of the different learners. Sometimes this takes time.
    To ensure there are more great teachers we need:
    1. more trust in teachers
    2. more training which allows for 'risks' in teaching (too much today is 'safe' to avoid failure)
    a greater understanding of the learning process (too many inspectors do not understand this!)
    3. less pressure on staff - allow teachers the time to teach great lessons/series of lessons
    4. less administration in schools which detracts from core purpose - fit, energetic and healthy teachers!

    Comment on this Comment made: 19 NOV 2013

    1. Megan Crawford, Academic

      A really good summary. I really agree with your second point Tony. Risk aversion is the antithesis of excellent teaching.

      Comment made: 20 NOV 2013

    Daniel Foster, School/college leader

    We all know that the very best teachers get significantly more progress out of their students. Subject knowledge is important but a passion for teaching and a positive drive is vital. Top honours do not mean that the person will be a great teacher there are other key factors. A review of pay/ pension/ career length/ working hours would show that many people are being put off from becoming a teacher. This is a huge shame and future learners will suffer as a result. Political interference and ever changing inspection frameworks are taking their toll, many good people are going early and a leadership crisis is looming. A new Education Secretary and more funding are essential if we are to become world leaders once again.

    Comment on this Comment made: 19 NOV 2013

    1. Jessica Austin-Burdett, Teacher/other staff

      Totally agree, more trust in our profession is fundamental to attracting a wider range of practitioners.

      Comment made: 16 FEB 2014

    Lesley Dolben, School/college leader

    The establishment of a Royal College of Teaching would begin the much needed journey of transforming teaching into a profession, raising it above its current status as 'servant of the political whim of the moment'. Teaching needs to become a research driven craft. We must spend time and resource into determining what works- based on action research and enquiry and free up school leaders to proclaim it from the rooftops!

    Comment on this Comment made: 14 NOV 2013

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