To be fair to Kevin Brennan, he seems to have updated his attack line on Michael Gove since his ‘don’t-call-teachers-names’ press release that Labour sent out overnight. The party’s shadow education minister is now attacking the Education Secretary for inconsistency, arguing that his announcement today on improving teacher training contradicts the decision to allow academies and free schools to employ unqualified teachers. He has just told BBC News:
‘But what’s rather strange about what the Government is doing is at the same time it’s saying there should be more rigour in the testing of teachers as they go in to the profession, it’s saying more and more schools can hire teachers that are unqualified. That’s a very strange, mixed message to be giving out about the status of teachers…
‘But the point I’m making is – actually the Government is saying at the same time as introducing this, is saying that more and more schools – academies and free schools and so on – can employ people who aren’t qualified.’
This is a much better point to use to undermine today’s announcement because on the surface it does look strange that Gove is putting some teachers through tougher maths tests, while letting others swan into academies without so much as a qualified teacher status.
But Gove is not being inconsistent. He is trying to improve the quality of a standard teaching qualification, so that a headteacher can have faith when they see a PGCE on a candidate’s CV that their ability to teach has been thoroughly tested. But he has also given headteachers freedom to hire the staff they want: if they find a well-qualified, experienced candidate who doesn’t have qualified teacher status but whose CV demonstrates in other ways that they are capable, then they can hire them. What it boils down to is whether or not Labour trusts headteachers to hire good staff because they care about the quality of their school’s teaching.