Commenting on the publication by the Department for Education (DfE) of ‘National Standards of Excellence for Headteachers’, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, said:

“With increasing difficulties in recruiting new headteachers, and with record numbers of teachers wanting to leave the profession, the Coalition Government has failed to recognise the damaging effect of its policies on the morale and confidence of teachers and school leaders.

“The publication of new standards for headteachers will leave parents wondering why the government has chosen to publish a set of optional standards and not to make these a requirement for all headteachers.

“The publication of optional standards for headteachers is unlikely to provide much needed reassurance for parents and the public, for the profession or for governing bodies and will do nothing to tackle the recruitment and retention crisis in our schools.

“Many who are aspiring to become headteachers in the future will, as a consequence of Coalition Government reforms, face a lottery in relation to access to professional development opportunities and career progression.

“The Coalition Government has presided over education reforms that have fundamentally undermined the job of teaching and leadership in schools.

“With dramatically increased powers granted to headteachers over the past five years, the DfE has left it extremely late to publish a set of professional standards for headteachers.

“The new standards for headteachers offer little remedy to the current challenges faced by schools and the teaching profession.”


Commenting on the publication of the Carter review into the effectiveness of initial teacher training (ITT), Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, said:

“The review has underlined the critical nature of qualified teacher status. As the NASUWT has continued to make clear, the reckless decision of the Coalition Government to remove the requirement for schools to employ qualified teachers represents one of the gravest current risks to maintaining high quality educational provision in this country.

“No other education system recognised as high performing or fast improving has taken this step, which is recognition of the international understanding of the critical importance of a professionally trained teaching workforce.

“The review has sought to stress the importance of strong partnerships between schools and universities in the delivery of ITT. The NASUWT has continued to highlight the fact that both have a critical role to play in securing effective teacher training across the education system. In too many current partnerships the role of universities has been marginalised to an unacceptable extent.

“However, the Union is concerned by the emphasis placed in the review and in the DfE's response to the potential role of a College of Teaching or the Teaching Schools Council in the development of ITT standards, as well as standards for mentors and qualified teachers.

“While the review is right to recognise that the profession must be a given a leading role in the development of these critical areas of education policy, it is not at all clear that current proposals for a College of Teaching would secure this in practice.

“There are also legitimate grounds for concern that the teaching school sector does not have the capacity or the expertise to take on even more responsibilities within the system. Evidence from teachers and school leaders indicates strongly that workload pressures within teaching schools are becoming unsustainable.

“It is incongruous for the DfE to suggest that key responsibilities should be allocated to the College of Teaching before its consultation on the future of College has concluded. This calls into serious question the extent to which this consultation represents a genuine opportunity to inform the development of the DfE’s policy in this area.”