‘Let teachers reclaim the classroom’ – NASUWT challenge to the Lib Dems

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers' union in the UK, was joined by Schools Minister David Laws at Beyond 2015: Reclaiming the Classroom, a fringe meeting organised by the NASUWT at the Liberal Democrats Party Conference in Glasgow. The fringe was chaired by NASUWT Senior Vice President Graham Dawson.

Chris Keates said:

“The reality of the last four years is that no aspect of teachers’ professional lives has been left untouched.

“The teaching profession is on the brink of a recruitment and retention crisis.

“We know that children and young people learn best when teachers are given the time, resources and scope to make the fullest possible use of their professional talents, knowledge and expertise.

“If teachers are unable to reclaim their classroom and be backed to use their professional judgement about what they teach and how they teach and how they manage pupil behaviour then standards will suffer.

David Laws said: “We know that in terms of time spent out of the classroom involved in some of the other areas of bureaucracy, our teachers do seem to put in much longer hours than in most other countries.

“There is a risk of a tick-box culture because either Ofsted and government, or the way head teachers interpret policy, mean teachers feel they spend a lot of time doing things which are not inspiring or productive but are about filling in paper work, and we cannot afford to let that happen.

“We need to listen to unions and the teaching profession about what are some of the unintended consequences of accountability.

“In my view qualified teacher status is very important. It is a signal that we expect teachers in the classroom to be properly trained and supported and that teaching is not just about knowing a lot about a subject.

We intend to reverse the exemption of QTS to make sure it is something which is there for every teacher in a state funded school.”