Professional learning potentials in the new Teachers' Standards
'To lead people, walk behind them.'
This month sees the introduction of the new Teachers’ Standards. Although some teachers will still be assessed under the 2006 performance management regulations if their performance management cycle was already underway on 1 September 2012, the 2012 Standards are the baseline of expectations for conduct and professional practice for teachers in England. Most importantly, it is expected that these new Standards will be used to support ‘professional development and growth’.
The eight headings
To recap, the 2012 Teachers’ Standards have eight separate headings, each with further bullet points to clarify what is required. The eight headings describing what a teacher must do are:
- set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils
- promote good progress and outcomes by pupils
- demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge
- plan and teach well structured lessons
- adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils
- make accurate and productive use of assessment
- manage behaviour effectively to ensure a good and safe learning environment
- fulfil wider professional responsibilities.
Getting the most out of the new Standards
To ensure that staff are able to make the most of the professional learning potential of the new Standards, these points may help:
- At the beginning of the appraisal period, make sure that all teachers know exactly what standards they will be assessed by.
- Schools will have new performance management policies in line with the new appraisal regulations. All staff should know exactly what this policy contains, how they will have their performance managed and the role that the Teachers’ Standards will play in the assessment of their work. If your school is an academy, the DfE says it ‘will not have to assess [teachers’] performance against Part One of the Teachers’ Standards as part of an annual appraisal process.’ NQTs taking part in statutory induction arrangements will have to be assessed against the Standards at the end of their induction period. Part Two of the Teachers’ Standards apply to all teachers regardless of whether they teach in a maintained school, independent school or academy.
Self-review can be a very effective way of boosting motivation in professional learning and the Standards are an accessible tool for such an exercise.
- All teachers in maintained schools, including heads and other members of the leadership group must be assessed against the Teachers’ Standards. QLTS (Qualified Teachers Learning and Skills) teachers can be assessed against standards chosen by the school; they do not have to be assessed against the Teachers’ Standards.
- The DfE is keen to explain that although the Standards have many bulleted sub-headings, performance should not be assessed against each separate subheading. These subheadings should be considered to be integral to the main headline standard so they do not need to be interpreted separately. This process will help to uncover development needs and professional learning targets as well as those skills that the teacher demonstrates to an excellent standard. Schools must determine the degree of detail they use for the appraisals so in developing norms it would be wise to find out from staff what degree of detail would be most helpful in supporting professional learning and recognising excellence.
- Encourage teachers to use the new Standards in their own personal reflections on their work. Self-review can be a very effective way of boosting motivation in professional learning and the Standards are an accessible tool for such an exercise. The key question to answer is: what support and professional learning do I need to engage with in order to meet all aspects of all the Standards?
Can your school enhance the observations it does?
- The DfE has stressed that in countries with successful education systems, lesson observations form a central part of professional learning activities. Can your school enhance the observations it does? Is there a way of enabling teachers to work collaboratively on planning and preparation and then mutual observations and feedback with the specific purpose of furthering professional learning?
- The new Teachers’ Standards will be used for a number of purposes including: the induction of newly qualified teachers, annual appraisal, professional learning, assessment for QTS, misconduct hearings and Ofsted inspection. It’s worth making sure that all teachers are aware of the Standards’ importance and significance, within their own responsibilities of raising standards and enhancing the quality of teaching.
The new Teachers’ Standards are fundamentally about teacher effectiveness. Viewed in this light, rather than as a mechanism by which to challenge, dominate or restrict teachers, they can be a useful tool for development, one step at a time.