Education Committee - Minutes of EvidenceHC 1515-ii

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House of COMMONS

Oral EVIDENCE

TAKEN BEFORE the

Education Committee

Attracting, Training and Retaining the Best Teachers

Wednesday 14 March 2012

MR Nick Gibb MP

Evidence heard in Public Questions 676 761

USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT

1. This is a corrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee, and copies have been made available by the Vote Office for the use of Members and others.

2. The transcript is an approved formal record of these proceedings. It will be printed in due course.

Oral Evidence

Taken before the Education Committee

on Wednesday 14 March 2012

Members present:

Mr Graham Stuart (Chair)

Neil Carmichael

Alex Cunningham

Pat Glass

Damian Hinds

Charlotte Leslie

Ian Mearns

Lisa Nandy

Craig Whittaker

________________

Examination of Witness

Witness: Mr Nick Gibb MP, Minister of State for Schools, Department for Education, gave evidence.

Q676 Chair: Good morning, Minister, and welcome to this, our final session on attracting, training and retaining the best teachers. We have returned to this topic shortly after the predecessor Committee was looking at the issue of teacher training, and we are unapologetic about doing so because of the centrality of the quality of teaching to the system. How important is quality of teaching to educational standards and, indeed, the longterm economic interests of the country?

Mr Gibb: It is critical, and we do have a cohort of very able teachers in this country, but we are not keeping pace with those countries around the world that are improving their education systems. All the evidence suggests that the quality of the teacher is the most important factor in a child’s education. We do have some very high-quality teachers, but we need to do everything we can as a Government to improve that still further.

Q677 Chair: Should the focus be to lift the standard of all a bit, or is it more about identifying those who are less good and either improving their performance or, indeed, removing them from the profession?

Mr Gibb: It is a range of things. It is about raising the bar for entry into teaching.

Q678 Chair: What is the evidence that raising the bar for entry into teaching leads to higher pupil achievement in the classroom?

Mr Gibb: There is quite a lot of evidence from around the world, for example Michael Barber’s How the world’s bestperforming school systems come out on top. If you look at the highperforming countries such as Finland, they take their trainees from the top 10% of their graduates each year. It is very important. If you want to raise the status of the teaching profession, you need to raise the bar to entry.

But it is not just about that. It is also about CPD; continuing professional development is very important and what lies behind the policy of having Teaching Schools around the country. They are not just about initial teacher training; they are also about CPD. Of course, there is also the point you make about managing the performance of existing teachers. We want to make it easier for head teachers to manage that process and not have it tied up with too much red tape, and we have made reforms in that area, too. So it is a whole range of factors.

Q679 Chair: There has been a lot of research, though, hasn’t there? As you said, there is a lot of research, among those teachers who are in the system, looking at correlation between prior attainment, whether they have a master’s or not, degree class and then achievement in the classroom, and people have struggled to find any correlation. The predecessor Committee recommended raising the bar for entry. Could it be we are all barking up the wrong tree and that, although having higher quality people generally is going to help, there is a threshing mechanism and you cannot correlate directly prior attainment to whether you lead achievement in the classroom?

Mr Gibb: There is evidence of a link between retention within the profession and prior attainment, but if you simply look at the highest-performing school systems in the world, like Finland, Korea and Singapore, they do take their teachers from the top quartile or the top 10%.

Q680 Chair: Yes, but if they then analyse among those to see if a higher class masters, a higher first class degree, correlates to higher pupil achievement, there does not seem to be the correlation. We might be reading the wrong thing into the lessons to be gained from these jurisdictions.

Mr Gibb: That is not necessarily the right thing to do. The key thing is the status of the profession in those jurisdictions. In this country, in a 2005 survey, 90% of teachers believed that the status of the profession in this country is either medium or low. In fact, 47% thought it was medium and 43% of teachers felt that it was a profession with low status. What we want to do is raise that perception, and that is what all these measures are designed to achieve. If you have a profession that has a high regard for its own status, I think that will have an impact on the quality of teaching over the longer term.

Q681 Chair: What is the Government’s rationale for expanding schoolled training when Ofsted say that universityled training in general is more likely to be Outstanding? We have heard quite a lot of doubt as to capacity and willingness within the school sector to take on significantly more of the responsibility for leading the training.

Mr Gibb: Again, all of the evidence seems to suggest that peertopeer support is the most effective way of conducting CPD-that less observation and so on is the best approach. It is taking that then to the earlier step of initial teacher training. Those figures that people cite about Ofsted are true. Ofsted does regard universities and the education faculties within the universities as very high: 95% are either Good or Very Good. But if you also look at the schoolled systems, 86% of schoolcentred initial teacher training is classed as Very Good or Good, and 83% of employmentbased is Very Good.

Q682 Chair: But they are tiny. Certainly the schoolled is tiny. We talk about the international evidence, which Ministers often quote, and then you look at the internal evidence and everything says what we have is Outstanding, worldclass initial teacher training. So why are you messing with something that Ofsted and international comparisons tell you is excellent? If there is one thing people come from around the world to learn from us it is probably initial teacher training, and you are messing with it. I am trying to understand why.

Mr Gibb: Because, firstly, the point about peer to peer-having trainee teachers at the chalk face in schools, giving schools the ability to select their candidates. If you look at the system overall, although we have very good teachers, we have a very good school system, we have excellent universities and teacher training, as a whole we are falling behind our international competitors, so reform does have to happen.

Q683 Chair: There is a panic about overall performance, so you are picking on the one area where we are really excellent and messing with that, when in fact perhaps you should just be focusing your attention elsewhere. Internal and external evidence would tell you that ITT is pretty good. Maybe it should be lower down your priority list.

Mr Gibb: No, because we are not abandoning universities. They still have a crucial role to play in supporting schools in delivering initial teacher training. They award the PGCEs, they are accredited, they have very high-quality training and that will continue, but we want schools to have more say in the selection of candidates and to have more involvement in the training at the chalk face, so to speak, or the whiteboard face. But if you look at Alan Smithers’ and Pamela Robinson’s Good Teacher Training Guide 2011, they put a schoolcentred initial teacher training consortium, the Billericay Education Consortium, as No. 1, then Oxford University, then Cambridge, then the North East Partnership SCITT, then the University of Exeter, and then the Devon Primary SCITT group. So you can see, if you look, there is lots of schoolcentred initial teacher training at the top of the rankings of the best initial teacher training.

Q684 Chair: They are minuscule in comparison with Oxford and Cambridge, for instance, though.

Mr Gibb: But you were talking about quality. They are quality, and what we are trying to do is expand the number of schoolcentred courses and there are already 103 schools that are taking part in the School Direct scheme and 900 applicants. It is a very popular policy and we had more applicants for the initial round of School Direct trainees than we anticipated, which is why we had to increase it from 500 to nearer to 1,000. It is a popular policy and it is the right policy, but universities will continue to play a crucial role in teacher training.

Q685 Ian Mearns: On the back of that, I am just wondering, Minister, do you see that playing out across the different sectors of education in terms of secondary, primary and special needs education? Do you see the same sort of rollout happening across those different sectors?

Mr Gibb: Yes, and if you look at the first 100 teaching schools that we have accredited, seven of those are special schools, so the same approach can apply to special schools as well as to primary and secondary schools.

Q686 Ian Mearns: I suppose the crucial question is: how soon do you see the model that you are trying to promote there having the capacity to meet the demand within the system in providing the numbers of teachers that we need for the future?

Mr Gibb: We are taking this very cautiously, which is why we are talking about 100 teaching schools this year, 100 next year and up to 500 by the end of the Parliament. We are not saying 500 this year or 1,000 next year; we are treading cautiously. It is a paced shift of emphasis towards schools, but universities will continue to be the major provider of new teachers into our system indefinitely. This is not radical, revolutionary change; it is a cautious approach to just shifting the balance slightly.

Q687 Chair: Is it confused? It looks like you wanted to go at a fast pace when you first came into Government, but then rather backed off once you looked at the proper evidence. Now you have messages to universities that they are less valued in the system, and then they are put in charge of new streams of training as well. It looks as if the Government are not quite sure what they want from initial teacher training.

Mr Gibb: No, we are very clear what we want, but I am just addressing Ian Mearnss comments about whether we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. No, we are proceeding cautiously, and universities will continue to have an important role to play.

Q688 Ian Mearns: That was not me.

Mr Gibb: Sorry, it was you, Chair. My apologies.

Chair: Tar us all with the same brush.

Ian Mearns: We are all starting to look the same.

Chair: Shall we move on?

Q689 Damian Hinds: Minister, good morning. When Ofsted listed for us the qualities of outstanding teachers, they said, "An outstanding teacher generally has exceptionally strong subject knowledge and exceptionally good interactions with students and children, which will enable them to demonstrate their learning and build on their learning. They will challenge the youngster to extend their thinking to go way beyond the normal yes/no answer. They will be people who inspire, who develop a strong sense of what students can do, and have no limits in terms of their expectations of students." Without expecting you to remember every word of that, would you differ markedly from that in your assessment of what makes a great teacher?

Mr Gibb: No, not in the least, and nothing in our policies would indicate that we differ from that. Although we are raising the bar in terms of academic qualifications to enter the profession, the selection process will still require good communication skills. All the empathy and all those issues that make a good teacher will still be very important when either schools or the universities are interviewing potential trainees for their courses.

Q690 Damian Hinds: When this inquiry was still on the drawing board, its working title was, "What makes a great teacher?" Obviously, when we came together as a Committee we turned it into a much longer thing about attracting, training and retaining and so on, but at the heart it is still about that simple question. We all say, when we discuss it, that we know what makes a great teacher because we have had one and you can spot it. You know it when you see it. If your children have one, you know it when you see it there. The problem is defining it in advance and spotting it in advance. Given that description that we had from Ofsted and your own thoughts as well, what do you think are the best ways to spot who is going to make a great teacher?

Mr Gibb: Well, I would not leave it to ministers to make all these decisions. I think it is a matter for the institutions, the universities, and schools are best placed. It is schools that are delivering our education system, which is why we want schools to have a greater say in the selection of candidates. That is what the School Direct policy is about: that they will select candidates who they will ultimately employ as teachers in their school. So connecting the ultimate employment back to the selection of students I think is an effective way of ensuring that schools are getting the kinds of candidates who they believe will make the best teachers for the future.

But I think subject knowledge is important, which is also in that quote from Ofsted. I think that a teacher who is comfortable in their subject will make a better teacher than somebody who is struggling. That is why we have schemes such as the National Scholarship Fund, which is awarding up to £3,500 to teachers to be able to indulge their subject knowledge-to go on courses towards a master’s qualification or, indeed, subject seminars, so they can enhance their subject knowledge and keep up to date with the latest developments. I think it is very important.

Q691 Damian Hinds: To come back to the Chairman’s questioning about degree class and correlation, would you say that subject knowledge and academic record are the be-all and end-all, one of a number of factors to be weighted, or a threshold that is necessary but not sufficient to be a great teacher?

Mr Gibb: I think it is one of the factors to be taken into account, and we are not excluding graduates with a degree class of less than 2:2 from entering the profession or getting themselves on a university course. We are just using the bursary system to incentivise graduates with higher class degrees, and particularly in those subjects that schools tells us are in short supply, such as physics, chemistry, maths and modern languages.

Q692 Damian Hinds: If you are going to be a secondary school teacher, you might end up preparing children in the sixth form for entry into top universities, so you need a good degree yourself to be able to do that. If you are in a primary school, you are not going to find yourself in that situation, but you will find yourself covering a much wider range of subjects. Notwithstanding the course content of the BEd, do you think there is an argument for saying that for secondary teachers degree class is a very important factor, but for primary school teachers perhaps having GCSEs at B or A in a very wide range of subjects is more important?

Mr Gibb: Well, we are a country that has a graduate teaching profession. I think that is important.

Damian Hinds: Sorry, I did not mean only GCSEs; I meant as part of it.

Mr Gibb: Yes, sure. For the literacy and numeracy tests that all trainees are required to pass, we are limiting the number of retakes now. There are three attempts to take those tests now instead of an indefinite number, and from next year it will be a requirement to pass that test before starting the course. So we are emphasising those issues that you are talking about. But I do think also we are giving extra bursaries to those primary teacher trainees who have either a first or a 2:1, because we believe these issues are important. That does not mean to say that a teacher with a 2:2 or a third will not make a very good teacher in a primary school or, indeed, in a secondary school. We just want to, with the policy as a whole, push up the bar of entry into the profession.

Q693 Damian Hinds: Going beyond academic record again, one of the themes that we have heard repeatedly during this inquiry, most recently when we were in Yorkshire last week talking to teacher trainees and others, is that if you want to know if someone is going to be a good teacher, there is only one way to do it: put them in front of a roomful of children and watch them teach. Given that people commit in quite a high stakes way to training to be a teacher either at 21 or at 18, generally speaking before they have ever done that, how can you replicate or get closest to replicating the experience of observing somebody teaching before they make that high-stakes decision?

Mr Gibb: Before they apply?

Damian Hinds: For example, before you start a BEd, you are in the sixth form and you are thinking of being a teacher. You have a work experience programme in teaching in the lower sixth and the upper sixth, but rather than just being around a school, should we be saying, "Because you are interested in being a teacher, part of it is you will teach, obviously with a qualified teacher in the room with you at the time"?

Mr Gibb: It is an interesting concept. I visited a school in Surrey the week before last where some of the sixth formers were going into a secondary school and teaching some of the year 7 and 8 pupils in a subject that they were studying for A-level. I think those sixth formers will have benefited hugely from that experience as well as, of course, some of the year 7 and 8 pupils in the secondary school being taught by somebody much nearer their own age but very well versed in the subject matter. So I think there is something in what you argue for.

Q694 Damian Hinds: A lot of businesses, a lot of organisations, a lot of walks of life struggle with this. If you want to know if someone is going to make a good X, you can only really know after they have done it for a year or two years. But business struggles with this and knows that is a very wasteful way to employ people and so, over time, iteratively you strive towards replicating a series of tests, testing core competencies, different exercises and so on to know who will make a good bar manager, who will make a good store manager, whatever it is. With teachers, we do not really seem to have moved too far down that line. I know there are the literacy and numeracy and personal skills tests, but do you think there is more scope to develop that sort of HR science, if you like, in the way that Teach First seem to be trying to do?

Mr Gibb: I know HR disciplines are very popular, or not, but I think the closer you move recruitment to the school, the nearer you will get to that approach. Teach First are experts in their recruitment process. I have sat in on some of the processes and it is a very impressive process, and it is a process that results in a very effective outcome, with some very high-quality teachers who are not only high quality in terms of their academic record but also in how they approach teaching and how well they deal with children and interact in the classroom.

Q695 Damian Hinds: Finally from me, Minister, should it be an absolute gateway requirement of passing your PGCE that you "pass" your school placements?

Mr Gibb: Yes.

Q696 Chair: Just picking up on a point you made earlier, Minister, you said that people with a degree less than a 2:2 could not get a bursary and that was how they were affected. But in truth, the TDA will not pay for their teacher training. It is not primarily about the bursary, is it, unless I misunderstand?

Mr Gibb: No, that is not true. You can apply for all the student loans to pay tuition fees regardless of your degree class provided you have been accepted on to a course, so all that is available to all students regardless of whether you have a bursary or not. Also, the maintenance element, although means-tested for certain students, is available in the normal way.

Q697 Chair: Right, okay. We had the launch of National Numeracy recently, and they are an excellent new body emphasising the importance of mathematic teaching and early attainment to longer-term attainment. Would you like to see a maths graduate in every primary school?

Mr Gibb: Certainly maths specialists. I remember going to an independent primary school in Surrey the week before last, and in that school they were saying they employ a maths graduate to teach maths, because some of their year 5 and 6 pupils were becoming very competent at mathematics and they felt they needed a maths graduate to teach those children. But I think we do need maths specialists, and this is something that we are looking at. At the moment, we have said in the Implementation Plan that we are looking to develop specialist primary teachers in certain specialist subjects, particularly maths and science, and already the TDA is giving some emphasis in the place allocations to those universities that do have a specialist maths or science element within their primary teacher training.

Q698 Chair: Just to return, if I may, to this issue of the training, and Training our next generation of outstanding teachers-June 2011-an improvement strategy for discussion. It says on page 5 how important it is: subject knowledge and "degree class is a good predictor of whether a trainee will complete their course"-not whether they will get achievement for their children in the classroom but let’s leave that aside-and "therefore, from September 2012, the Department for Education will fund only trainee teachers who hold a second class degree or higher."

Mr Gibb: Yes, that is right-that is through the bursary scheme. We will only give bursaries to those with a 2:2 or higher. For example, we give a £20,000 bursary to those with a first in maths, physics, chemistry or a modern language, or £9,000 for those with a first going into primary or the other secondary priority specialisms; those with a 2:1 get £15,000 and £5,000 for primary; and those with a 2:2 in physics, maths, chemistry or a modern language get a £12,000 bursary. Those are the bursaries for 2012-13.

Q699 Chair: That is what that was referring to, I see, thank you. We were just talking about the importance of maths in primary school, and we all know that early attainment is the most important predictor of later attainment. Why is it that the bursary to go into secondary for a maths graduate is so much higher than if they went into primary, when it would appear that the impact on children and the longest-term benefit is to be found at primary level?

Mr Gibb: It is all to do with the difficulty of recruiting, and the hardest people to recruit are the maths, physics and chemistry graduates into secondary in those particular subjects. So it is a matter of priority; it is a matter of the numbers and the difficulty of recruitment.

Q700 Neil Carmichael: Nick, there is a constant recurring theme in this inquiry and that is-and it has been supported by the Secretary of State when he answered questions from our Committee a few weeks ago-that there is an appetite for a professional body for teachers. Do you agree that would be a good idea? Do you think that it should encompass all teachers from nursery to university and, critically to the theme of questioning I am going to be developing, do you think that would help to market teaching as a profession and encourage people to enter the profession?

Mr Gibb: There are many hurdles you have to get over to become a teacher in this country: you need to be a graduate, you have to acquire qualified teacher status, you have to go through an induction. So to become a teacher in this country is a challenging process as it is. I think generally professional bodies are better if they emerge from within the profession-the royal colleges. My own professional body before I became a Member of Parliament, the Institute of Chartered Accountants, arose from within the profession itself. Should such a body arise from within the teaching profession, that can only be beneficial.

There are such awards within the subject specialist associations, who do grant that kind of recognition or award to teachers who are part of those associations. But I do not think having it imposed by Government topdown, like we saw with the General Teaching Council, is the most effective way to create a professional body.

Q701 Neil Carmichael: But you would welcome one if one emerged from within?

Mr Gibb: Yes.

Q702 Neil Carmichael: The point that Amanda Timberg was busy making to this Committee was that, if she goes to campuses, she is really confronted by a lot of alternative professions well represented; you have just named one-accountancy-but there are others, such as banking and so forth. Within that context, teaching is perhaps seen as a Cinderella option weighed against the might of the professional bodies that would also be at those campuses. Do you agree?

Mr Gibb: As I said earlier, the profession itself regards the teaching profession as having medium or low status, and that is something we are absolutely determined to change, but Teach First, which you have just cited, is the exception that proves the rule. That is one of the most popular graduate recruiters, and there are six or seven applicants for every place in Teach First, so that is a very successful professional body, if you like, that is doing a huge amount to recruit very high-quality graduates into the teaching profession.

Q703 Neil Carmichael: But do you think it should be augmented by, say, a Government campaign or marketing strategy to point out that teaching is a very worthwhile profession? We all know that, but we need to reach out to those people who might be considering a career.

Mr Gibb: Yes, and the TDA does have an advertising budget and uses it to try to attract graduates to enrol in teaching. Without those campaigns they would not be able to fulfil their targets, so yes, I agree with that.

Q704 Neil Carmichael: Has the Government been looking at reasons why people choose not to be teachers?

Mr Gibb: Yes. This is something that does concern us, and it appears that the evidence suggests that it is things like workload, and pupil behaviour is also an issue. To address both of those, we are doing a huge amount to strip away a lot of the bureaucratic burdens that have been heaped upon teachers over recent decades. We have taken thousands and thousands of pages out of the guidance for schools, and a huge amount of work has taken place since we came into office to do that. We are looking at the data collections as well. Reducing bureaucratic burdens on teachers is very important and we are continuing with that work. We are drilling down to find out what it is a teacher has to cope with and what it is head teachers have to cope with every day from either local government or from the Department for Education or other Government Departments.

In terms of pupil behaviour, we are trying to shift the balance of authority back towards the teacher, away from the child to the adult in the classroom. That is what the powers we took in the Education Act are all about. For example, removing the legal requirement for 24 hours’ written notice for a detention is just one small measure, but a significant one, to try to shift that balance. Pupil behaviour is a factor that is driving people out of the profession, and therefore you can assume it is something that deters people from going into the teaching profession.

Q705 Chair: What progress has been made on the central admissions system for teacher training?

Mr Gibb: UCAS are consulting on that at the moment. That consultation will close on 21 March and it is intended to be implemented in 2013 for 2014. The idea is that whatever you apply for, whether it is schoolbased teacher training through School Direct, either schoolcentred or employmentbased, or a university or other provider, it will all be through a central system. You will have a first round and then a second round, and I think that will make it much easier for candidates applying.

Q706 Chair: When-where are we?

Mr Gibb: The consultation will close on 21 March this year and then we will respond to that consultation. Do not forget UCAS is an independent body from Government so it is conducting its own processes, but the idea is to implement that in 2013 for students starting in September 2014.

Q707 Charlotte Leslie: Nick, I would like to return to Neil’s point of status for the profession, which is something I will be returning to later on. It strikes me that there are two basic reasons why the level of academic entry into the teaching profession has been upped: first, to attract more academically able teachers; but secondly, to send out a signal that this is a high status profession. I will be coming back to other mechanisms of doing that, like a royal college, later on. Do you think that the sacrifice made by narrowing your intake of students, with potentially good teachers with 2:2s not going into the profession because it is more difficult for them, is matched by the status increase that raising the bar of entry gives? I am thinking of Simon Burgess and Rebecca Allen, who say that teacher training ought to have a broader intake but tougher graduation.

Mr Gibb: The TDA research shows that the higher the bar, the more attractive the profession becomes for high performers, and that is what we are trying to achieve. We want it to be somewhere that high achievers want to get into. It was always a worry that I had that if we raised the bar we would suddenly find we did not have enough people to fill the places. It is always hard to find places for physics, maths and modern languages, but so far I think we are doing quite well. We are still quite early on in the year in terms of recruiting. Compared with this time last year, we are slightly down in some subjects and significantly down in some of the subjects we have given less priority to. But if you look at maths, it is just 4.7% down on this time last year; chemistry, though, is 8% up, physics is 4.7% up and French is 8.2% up compared with this time last year. So I am confident that the judgment that we took in raising the bar, albeit it will deter some, will encourage others to replace the ones who are deterred.

Q708 Pat Glass: I want to talk a little bit about putting policies into practice, but before I do that can I follow up on a couple of things that you said earlier? Given that my background is maths, I would be very interested to know what you think the difference is between a maths graduate and a maths specialist.

Mr Gibb: Well, we have yet to say more about what will constitute a maths specialist and we will be saying more about that shortly. I am not saying this is going to be the policy, but for example you could, for primary, require A-level maths. So you could say any degree, but A-level maths at a certain grade would enable you to then attend a course run by a university or a schoolcentred one that would then run a maths specialist primary course.

Q709 Pat Glass: Teach First has a very strong quality mark. It was created specifically for a purpose: it was to attract the highest graduates into teaching for a period of time, not necessarily with the intention of them remaining in teaching long term. Given this very strong quality mark that it has, do you have any fears that expanding Teach First will dilute its elite reputation?

Mr Gibb: That was always a factor that we took into account when discussing with Teach First expansion, and we would not have moved on that had we thought there was any possibility that they would be reducing the quality of entrants into teaching through the Teach First process. They are confident that doubling the numbers will not do that. They are getting six or seven applications for every place, and given their confidence that it will not result in a dilution of quality, I think we can be satisfied. But that is certainly why we are not going beyond the doubling initially.

If, in the future, we can be convinced that it will not result in dilution, we can look at that again, but for the moment we are absolutely convinced that it will not lead to a dilution.

Q710 Pat Glass: And scaling this up, is that not going to be more costly?

Mr Gibb: Yes, the Teach First process is costly, and Teach First are doing everything they can to ensure that all those costs are absolutely essential and looking for savings where they can be made, but it is a very successful approach to attracting high quality candidates into teaching.

Q711 Pat Glass: In response to one of the Chairman’s earlier questions, when we were talking about bursaries, you said that bursaries are offered if students with certain degree classes get on to PGCEs. But in practice what is happening is that students are being offered places on PGCEs subject to getting that 2:1, which is not what you intended. Were you aware that this was happening in practice? So anyone with less than a 2:1 is not only not getting a bursary but not getting a place on a course.

Mr Gibb: Well, we want to raise the bar for entry to the profession and that is what we are seeking to do. Ultimately, it is up to the universities who they recruit, and if they are able to fill their places with candidates with ever-higher degree classes, I think that will benefit the teaching profession.

Q712 Pat Glass: But if that is the case, why not just say you cannot get a place on a PGCE course without having a 2:1, because that is what is happening, and is that not distorting the system? There are many outstanding teachers and head teachers who do not have 2:1 degrees.

Mr Gibb: No, but that is not the policy. The policy is that we are giving priority to people with a 2:2 or higher, but we are not excluding candidates with other degree classes going to university. It is up to the universities who they recruit. To take your point, if those universities or, indeed, the schools who are recruiting themselves feel that a candidate with a different class of degree would make an exceptional teacher, they are free to recruit those students, those candidates, because that is essentially the policy. But taken as a whole, we just want to nudge, if you like, to use the jargon, to push up the bar of entry to the profession as a whole and what you are saying would seem to indicate that process is happening.

Q713 Pat Glass: But in a sense, in practice the policy is skewing the system and is closing the doors to people who probably could make good teachers.

Can I move on to another way in which I think the policy is skewing the system? The Committee have been told that some university provision and some subjects are at risk of disappearing from the curriculum altogether. Music and RE are two of them. So you have a combination, almost a supply and demandside, push on these subjects-that is the EBac from the demand side and restrictions in quotas. Durham University was one that cited their music education. They were saying that they can no longer fill their music education course because it has been cut to eight and it makes it financially nonviable. Now, given that music, I think, is a very strong foundation for mathematics, and RE underpins many subjects, like philosophy and ethics, is the policy not skewing the system and driving some subjects off the curriculum?

Mr Gibb: I don’t think it is. Places are allocated to universities and schools on the basis of a very carefully constructed formula that the TDA produce and targets set by the department which take account of teacher vacancies, changes to the curriculum and so on. If you look at places for 2012-13 compared with 2011-12 and take music, which you cited, in 2011-12 there were 390 places for music and that is now 380. Bear in mind that overall we are having a reduction in secondary school training places because of population changes in schools, so there is an increase in demand for primary teachers but there is a decrease slightly in secondary. The other subject you cited, RE-I will just find that-was 460 in 2011-12 albeit that 2011-12 was a reduction on 2010-11. In 2010-11 it was 655, in 2011-12 it was 460 and in 2012-13 it was 450. So there is a slight reduction, but it is not the dramatic story that is implicit in your-

Q714 Pat Glass: But that is a 50% reduction in RE over two years. It is not a small reduction. I think, Minister, my point is that is your policy, but in practice you may have offered places in your quota at Durham University, but they are not running the course, and if they are not running the course, other people will not be running the course. By cutting the quotas slightly you have made it uneconomic for them to run the course. There may be 380 places offered by the Department, but in fact a significantly smaller number will run.

Mr Gibb: Yes, but we cannot pay for courses to be run if the demand from schools is not there. Do not forget the population in secondary schools is in decline and will be until the increase in pupil numbers in primary feeds its way through to secondary.

Q715 Pat Glass: So it is okay with the DfE if music and RE disappear from the curriculum?

Mr Gibb: Well, the TDA seeks to allocate places as best it can to keep as many courses open as possible, but in a world where finances are constrained you cannot train more teachers in a certain subject than schools are demanding. Ultimately, we want teachers who are leaving to have jobs to go to.

Q716 Pat Glass: But as a Government, do you not think that music and RE are important parts of the curriculum?

Mr Gibb: They are very important, and the numbers taking RE at GCSE last year-

Q717 Pat Glass: And whatever the TDA say, you will do something about this-you will look at this?

Mr Gibb: We are always reviewing it, the whole time. The number of applicants into GCSE RE rose last year and we are still training significant numbers of RE teachers, 450 this year and 460 last year, at a time when secondary school teacher training places are in decline slightly because of falling pupil numbers. So I do not think the figures bear that out.

Pat Glass: I think a 50% drop in RE teaching over two years is a worry.

Q718 Chair: As a wider point, following on from Pat, Minister, are you confident that the system incentivises the strongest and best universities to stay within it and winnows out the weak, rather than the other way around? Are we going to see the stronger getting stronger because they do high-quality provision?

Mr Gibb: The TDA will allocate places and it will take into account the quality of the provision in each university. So it will look at the Ofsted reports when it allocates places to different universities.

Chair: All of us, questioners and Minister, we have a fair amount additionally to get through, so if we could keep it short and sharp, that would be good.

Q719 Ian Mearns: In terms of the specialisms and the demand that you say is led by schools, and obviously there are forces driving schools in particular directions in terms of managing that demand from their own perspective, how closely are you monitoring the situation so that, as a Government, you can intervene and change things around in terms of the future intake into teacher training?

Mr Gibb: Can you just expand the point you are trying to make?

Ian Mearns: For instance, the introduction of the EBac is having an impact on the specialisms that schools are going to demand in terms of teaching specialisms. There is no doubt about that, so that is a force acting on schools, and then the schools in themselves are placing a demand upon the system in terms of the sorts of recruits that they want. That is kind of what I am saying.

Mr Gibb: Yes, and the TDA do take that into account when they are very carefully allocating places, not just between universities but also between subjects, and they look at curriculum changes. For example, as a consequence of implementing the English Baccalaureate policy, the proportion taking those subjects was 22% last year. For the current year 10 pupils, who made their options last year-the year 9 pupils last year-that is now 47%. So in one year it has gone from 22% to 47%, which we believe is welcome, because we are worried about the decline in the numbers taking foreign languages. We are concerned about the proportions taking history and geography, and all those have risen as a consequence of this policy. That, in turn, will have an impact on the demand for modern language teachers and history and geography teachers, and that will then feed through to the TDA allocations.

Q720 Ian Mearns: If there is to be this shift away from universities, to a certain extent, and into initial teacher training being provided by schools, do you have any concerns about the capacity of universities to do the necessary research into the future of teacher training if their economies of scale are being downgraded to that extent?

Mr Gibb: There are two points there. First of all, a lot of schools that are conducting their own teacher training will be doing so in collaboration or in partnership with a university. They need the university, as a minimum in some instances, for accreditation, but also for PGCE, but also for the courses and lectures that the university will hold. There is a great deal of collaboration between the two, so universities will continue to have the resources to do the research.

Secondly, we want the universities to start to open university training schools along the lines of the Finnish model. So they will run their own school, which will be used then to enable not only trainees to have first-class training in connection with that university but also the other way round: the university will then be able to use the school as a way to monitor the effectiveness of the approach it is taking to pedagogy and so on and how teachers teach.

Q721 Ian Mearns: Do you have any significant evidence that heads of schools have either the capacity or the appetite to manage initial teacher training to the extent that you want them to?

Mr Gibb: Well, the School Direct policy has proven very popular. Already 103 schools are taking part in it starting this September. We initially wanted to start very cautiously with just 500 places, but the demand was so strong that we had to increase that to, I think, the over 900 places that are now happening in schools. So it is a popular policy and I think schools do want to participate in this. We have 100 teaching schools; there will be another 100 opening next year, and by the end of the Parliament we will have 500. So I think out there amongst schools there is an appetite to be more involved in teacher training.

Q722 Ian Mearns: You talked about the school and HE partnerships. Do you have any plans to strengthen the partnerships by securing a better balance of funding for those partnerships in the future?

Mr Gibb: I am not sure what you mean. Universities will be able to charge the same to postgraduate students going on to their teacher training courses as undergraduate courses. The loans system will be available to postgraduates as well as undergraduates, and we have a very generous system of bursaries for students. I am not sure what it is you are trying to say.

Q723 Ian Mearns: I am just trying to ensure that in the future, when the partnerships between HE and the schoolbased initial teacher training are becoming more widely spread, the balance of funding between the school and the HE institution is such that both partners are benefiting from the arrangement.

Mr Gibb: Yes, and that is meant to happen. The school will receive the initial funding, but if they are then going to buy in services from the university, whether it is accreditation only or whether it is courses and lectures, that fee between the two will be negotiated between the school and the university. That is inherent in the system. They will share the tuition fee between the two institutions.

Q724 Ian Mearns: You talked earlier about your hopes and aspirations in terms of schoolbased initial teacher training by the end of the Parliament. Could we just flesh that out again? What targets do you have for this increase in schoolled training, and what percentage of all training do you envisage being schoolled by the end of the Parliament? I think you mentioned a number of school-based schemes, but what percentage of the overall field would you see that being?

Mr Gibb: We do not really have targets. We are trying to get away from that approach to policymaking. What we have said is that we want there to be up to 500, but again we will not abandon quality to deliver 500. If we are not getting the applications of the right quality, we will not insist on reaching 500, but the aim is to have 500 teaching schools by the end of the Parliament. We do not have a target for the number of School Direct participants; we will see what applications come in.

Q725 Ian Mearns: Do you agree with the Institute of Education that we should be training teachers for the whole system, not for specific schools, and will School Direct make the opposite of that statement true?

Mr Gibb: I don’t think it will. We are making it more flexible in how trainee teachers gain their teaching experience, so we are allowing induction to happen in a wider range of schools than in the past in order to ensure they have a diverse range of experiences. So I don’t think we are training teachers for specific schools. The fact that we are saying to the School Direct process, "You are expected to employ the trainee that you take on and train at the end of the process," I don’t think is geared to just training that teacher for that particular school. They will still need to obtain a wide variety of experience before they gain qualified teacher status.

Q726 Ian Mearns: Can you explain the role of Teaching Schools and University Training Schools in your reformed ITT system?

Mr Gibb: University Training Schools are academies in status; they are free schools, if you like, run by the university that has-

Q727 Ian Mearns: Which are they? Are they free schools or are they academies?

Mr Gibb: They are the same. Free schools and academies are the same legal entity. A free school is a new school coming into the system, so if they have established a school from scratch, it is technically a free school, but it will be run by the university and it will be very connected with the education faculty of the university. A Teaching School is essentially a school that exists currently; it has to be rated Outstanding by Ofsted. That will acquire accreditation as a Teaching School, and one of the conditions is that it works in collaboration, or has worked in collaboration, with other schools in the locality to provide high-quality CPD and teacher training.

Q728 Ian Mearns: Do you think there is any contradiction between the creation of University Training Schools and your wish to see schools rather than universities in the lead in ITT?

Mr Gibb: No, because that is not the policy. We do not wish to see schools in the lead in ITT. We want there to be more involvement with schools in ITT, but it is not a contradiction. What the University Training Schools will show is the very best of teacher training. This will be the shop window of that university and how effective their teacher training is.

Q729 Ian Mearns: Since a University Training School will be, in essence, a free school, is there also a contradiction that they can then appoint nonqualified teachers?

Mr Gibb: They have a freedom so to do, but they will not necessarily do so.

Ian Mearns: It would be unusual if they did, you would think-a University Training School appointing nonqualified teachers.

Mr Gibb: Well, I don’t know. They have the freedom to do that if they wish.

Q730 Chair: Just on being Outstanding, I am imagining that a school really gets into this, it develops its teacher training, it is seen as Outstanding at it, but then its overall rating when Ofsted visit drops from Outstanding to Good with Outstanding Features. What is going to happen? Is it going to, just overnight, stop being able to train anyone?

Mr Gibb: That is my understanding, but I think I will just write to the Committee on that. I want to make sure we get the technicalities right about whether there is some phasing.

Q731 Chair: Because if that is the case-I do not know the detail of it-they could have invested, they could have built additional classrooms for it, they could have built a heck of a facility and then they lose their Outstanding status. And I think-you will know better than me, Minister-quite a large percentage of Outstanding schools when reinspected cease to be Outstanding.

Mr Gibb: Yes.

Chair: It does not sound like it is injecting a lot of stability into a system for an increasingly important part of the teacher training. You have said in your paper that "over the current Parliament, we expect the growth of School Direct, the accreditation of more groups of schools as ITT providers and the expansion of other SCITTstyle provision to lead to a significant increase in schoolled teacher training". When it is at 5%, that is one thing if it is a little unstable; if it becomes much more significant-and you have said you want it to be-then isn’t that the sort of thing that you probably ought to know about?

Mr Gibb: Well, to become a School Direct or a Teaching School you have to be Outstanding and you have to be Outstanding in teaching and leadership and management. So I take your point, but to become a Teaching School you have to go through-

Q732 Chair: No, I am clear on that. So there they are: they stay Outstanding for quite a while, they invest a lot, they become rather good at it, and then, for whatever reason, they drop to being Good with Outstanding Features-not exactly a disaster-and technically, on the face of it, your policy is that they immediately stop. They mothball these rooms and do not use them any more.

Mr Gibb: Well, we do want to ensure that the schools that are Teaching Schools are Outstanding, and if they are not Outstanding, that would be a concern, but I think I will write to you.

Chair: I will look forward to that. It gives you time for reflection, Minister. That sounds like it will be very helpful. Excellent.

Q733 Pat Glass: Minister, we have been told, and there is lots of evidence to support it, that the system of initial teacher training in this country is regarded internationally as outstanding, and the Chairman spoke about that earlier. Certainly, we want to have the best initial teacher training systems that we can have, but given that Ofsted say that much of our higher education ITT systemled teacher training is Good or Outstanding, and that internationally we are regarded, whether it is schoolbased or higher educationbased, as being one of the leaders in the world, can I bring you back to just what is the Government’s problem with teacher training in universities?

Mr Gibb: We don’t have a problem. As I said before, we do have very high quality universities in this country, but we also have very high quality school-led provision. You are right to cite Ofsted: 95% of higher educational provision is Very Good or Good; 86% of schoolcentred initial teacher training is also Good or Very Good. So we are fortunate to have very good quality in both sectors.

What we are saying is that we have to look at the international evidence, and the greater involvement of professional teachers in both CPD and initial teacher training is an effective way of raising standards of teaching across the system. Universities have a very important role to play. They will continue to have a hugely important role to play in our future vision of teacher training, but we want schools to have an increasing role as well. That is all the policy amounts to.

Q734 Pat Glass: The Committee last year visited Finland and, at the request of the Secretary of State, visited Singapore earlier this year. I did not go to Finland, but we saw lots that was good, but we also saw-

Chair: We certainly did not go there at the behest of the Secretary of State, Pat.

Pat Glass: No, sorry; he suggested it. He strongly suggested that we should go.

Chair: He did indeed suggest it, and we were going.

Pat Glass: Certainly I went to Singapore and I saw much that I thought was good about the system, but I think all of us would have things that we found very uncomfortable and gave us concern. So I think it might be useful for Ministers to sit down, because we are being told about Finland and Singapore all the time, to talk about the experiences that we had. I am really looking to find out why the DfE chose some countries and not others when it talks about learning from other countries. One of the things that we did do was meet with almost the equivalent of this Committee in Singapore, and we asked them at the end, "What can we do to raise the status of teachers in Britain? What would you recommend?" They said that we need to stop teacherbashing, basically. As a Government, we need to stop bashing our teachers.

Mr Gibb: Yes, I agree with that. We make speeches and, if you read either the Secretary of State’s speeches or, if you can bear it, my speeches, you will see passages that explain and set out what a very high-quality teaching profession we have. We then go on to explain why it is we are taking certain measures of reform, and we explain that we are concerned about the proportion of boys leaving primary school still struggling with reading or a reading age of seven, and that is the bit the media will overfocus on and the other bit is ignored. So we have a difficult task to both explain why we are engaged in quite significant reform to our education system at the same time as pointing out that we have a very, very good education system that is widely regarded.

Q735 Neil Carmichael: According to the Good Teacher Training Guide 2011, 62% of trainees end up in teaching the following year, from any year, which seems a remarkably wasteful way of training. Do you think that can be improved, and how?

Mr Gibb: Yes, I think it is a concern. 10% do not go into teaching after they complete, and only 73% remain in teaching after five years, which is where some of those figures will come from. It is a concern. There is a link between class of degree and retention, which I think is important, but we also have to do more to raise the status of teaching. That is our aim, and we need to tackle things like the burgeoning amount of bureaucracy that has been imposed on teachers over the years. It does put off dedicated teachers when they have to deal with 500 pages of guidance on behaviour policy and so on. I know teachers and people thinking about going into teaching are very worried about standards of behaviour in schools, and it is a concern for parents too. That has been a major objective of the Government-to tackle poor behaviour in schools.

Q736 Neil Carmichael: On the question of bureaucracy and regulation, you are absolutely right. It must be daunting for any teacher to think of all the forms and processes they have to go through, but that applies to quite a lot of professions as well, and they do not seem to have the same degree of difficulty in recruitment and retention. I just make that point, because it is absolutely right to focus on that and deal with it, but I do not think it is exclusive to the teaching profession.

Anyway, my next question is really about retention and turnover. The staff turnover is a good measure of how any organisation is doing, because if people are going out the door as quickly as they come in, clearly you have a problem. You need to have a reasonable turnover, but one that is too great is obviously destabilising and signals significant problems in an organisation; I encountered that personally at a school of which I was a governor. So what do you think is a reasonable level of turnover?

Mr Gibb: I don’t have a figure in mind, but I take your point. When you visit schools and you ask, "How long have you been here?" and a maths teacher says, "15 years" or "10 years", that is a sign that there is something good in the school. When everybody you meet has only been there 18 months, you do begin to worry, unless, of course, it is a new head teacher who is trying to deal with an underperforming school. So I do take your point. We don’t have targets; we don’t have a figure. One thing that worries me is that I think in 2009-10 a quarter of people leaving the teaching profession did so because they were retiring. That concerns me, because it implies that threequarters were leaving for reasons other than retirement, and I do think it is about workload, it is about bureaucracy, it is about student behaviour, and it is also about raising the status of the profession. People do like to be involved in something that is regarded as very prestigious. That is why, no doubt, everybody on this Committee came into politics initially. We don’t want teachers to have the same reputation as politicians, but we do want the teaching profession to have the same reputation as-I was going to say lawyers-doctors, accountants and so on.

Q737 Neil Carmichael: Yes, it all depends if you have just had an accountancy bill. Anyway, the question of retention is an issue, and I was just thinking in terms of career pathways within a school and also the leadership and management of a school. I think they are bound to be factors in recruitment and retention.

Mr Gibb: Yes, you are right, and I think one of Michael Barber’s reports pointed out that lack of opportunities is also a factor for why people may not go into teaching. I think we do need to promote those teachers who show early signs of potential. They need to be promoted rapidly, and there are schemes-Future Leaders, Teaching Leaders-that are designed to bring very able teachers up through the system into early leadership positions, and I think that is a welcome factor.

Q738 Neil Carmichael: You mentioned earlier the question of some teachers retiring, and that there were other reasons for teachers leaving the profession. Have you been talking to teachers to find out what those reasons are?

Mr Gibb: As I say, the surveys and all the evidence seem to reflect those things that I mentioned to do with workload, bureaucracy and student behaviour, and we are determined to tackle each of those.

Neil Carmichael: Perhaps this Committee should do some research itself on that subject.

Q739 Chair: What about pay, Minister? Perhaps the last Government’s lasting contribution to education was raising the pay of teachers, which has perhaps contributed to attracting higher-calibre people into the profession. Do you think that is true?

Mr Gibb: I think pay is important, but I also think that teachers’ pay and head teacher pay over recent years has improved considerably. We have had to reform the teachers’ pension scheme along with all the public sector pension schemes, but I think that the reformed teachers’ pension scheme still means that teachers have one of the best pensions available when compared with many pension schemes in the private sector. I do speak to teachers about this-obviously one needs to keep one’s eye on this.

Q740 Chair: Arne Duncan in the United States said he would like to see teachers’ pay doubled. If you look at the linkage between good teaching, achievement and economic lifetime earnings, every bit of research suggests that there is a clear correlation and that the numeric impacts on the individual and then on the collective and the nation are enormous. Given the economic impact and importance, he would like to see pay doubled. There is also a lot of talk about getting pay to reflect the achievement in the classroom rather than just a threshold now-everybody gets it regardless of whether they are any good or not. What are you going to do about that?

Mr Gibb: Certainly we want there to be more links between pay and performance, and we have asked the School Teachers’ Review Body to look at how to link increases in pay rates to the performance of teachers. Patricia Hodgson, the Chair of the School Teachers’ Review Body, will be looking at that in her remit at the moment.

Q741 Alex Cunningham: On the opportunity for development of teachers, I find this quite an interesting topic, particularly these days, as it has been for many years, as schools hire their own staff and fire their own staff, and often people are waiting for dead men’s shoes-or dead person’s shoes-for career progression. What could we do as a Government to encourage greater development for teachers, and not have them boxed into one school but given the opportunity to be able to move with security? At the moment they feel that if they have a job, they stick with the job, but the opportunity to develop might not be there.

Mr Gibb: The head teacher vacancy rate is under 1%, but we are concerned that one in four will be retiring in the next three to four years, and if you look at the readvertising rate for primary heads, it is something like 38%, so there will be and are plenty of opportunities for teachers to take leadership roles. But I do think schemes like Future Leaders are very important in trying to encourage teachers who are ambitious, capable and able to take early-

Q742 Alex Cunningham: No, I am thinking more in terms of secondary school teachers who come in and want to go through a system, but the opportunity to move on within a school is not there, never mind the top jobs-it is just the progression jobs: the head of faculty, head of department, etc.

Mr Gibb: You don’t have to stay within the same school to take up an opportunity as head of department in a different school, but I do think we need to bring on young talent as soon as possible. I think it is very important. One considers what the age is that typically you achieve a headship, and you compare it with the age that, say, a person in an international law firm might become a partner, and you are significantly older in teaching before you become a head compared with becoming a partner in a law firm.

Q743 Charlotte Leslie: I would like to return to the idea of a royal college of teaching and an analogy that we made earlier about medicine, because I think doctors and teachers is quite a good analogy if you are looking at professional status. It strikes me, and I wonder what you think, that there is no equivalent of, say, a consultant surgeon-a consultant teacher-and one of the issues that has been raised is of teachers not having a clear progression path. There are a lot of schemes, but they are not publicly recognised. People in the outside world do not recognise all these schemes for recognising teacher excellence that are out there. Also, a lot of it falls into leadership, so you get the problem that, if you have a really excellent teacher, their career path progression means that they get further away from the classroom, more into leadership and management courses, rather than teaching excellence. Do you think that a royal college, which could oversee something like a chartered status or a consultant teacher in the medical sense, may go some way to solving that issue?

Mr Gibb: As I said earlier, possibly, but that would have to come from within the profession. There is a College of Teachers already in existence and, who knows, that may be a kernel of something in the future. But we have already taken steps to address these issues ourselves. We asked Sally Coates, who is the Principal of Burlington Danes Academy, a very high-performing secondary school in west London, and her committee of head teachers and teachers has produced a very high-quality report revising the teaching standards. But also, a second report they produced recommended the introduction of a master teacher concept. So I think that is very important, and it sets out the standards you need to meet to be able to become a master teacher.

We have also introduced the concept of a specialist leader of education. We had the concept of a national leader of education and a local leader of education allocated by the National College for School Leadership. These are outstanding head teachers who will spend a proportion of their time helping other head teachers in other schools. Why not apply the same approach to outstanding teachers lower down the career progression who are heads of department or specialist teachers in their subject and encourage those people to then take that specialism and to nurture other specialists in other schools? I think that is something we are very keen on promoting.

Q744 Charlotte Leslie: We have already said earlier that in terms of CPD peertopeer support and mentoring is the most effective way to do it, because, quite rightly, teachers do not trust politicians to lead their professional development. Sorry, I have lost my train of thought. One of the issues with setting up a royal college of teaching, which may be able to oversee that kind of CPD, is that unlike medicine when the royal colleges were being set up, it is now a very statecrowded landscape. So whilst there may be great need for an acorn from which an oak tree may spring, it is far more difficult for that to grow because of all the state bodies that are there. If there was willingness for a royal college, in what way do you think the Government could help and facilitate by, in many ways, getting out of the way or smoothing down the landscape so it is easier for a professional body to spring up?

Mr Gibb: Certainly the direction of travel for Government is to not only raise the status of the teaching profession but enable it to be more autonomous. That is really what lies behind the academies movement. We want professionals to have more autonomy over the conduct of their schools and careers. Getting rid of things like the national strategies, which told teachers precisely how to teach, and getting rid of the reams of lever arch files that were sent to schools on a fortnightly basis, is all about empowering teachers to be in charge of their own profession. I hope that will constitute sufficiently getting out of the way to enable such bodies to spring up, if that is what the profession wants.

Q745 Ian Mearns: Is that happening, Minister? I am still a school governor and I am afraid that teachers are telling me that there has not been a massive reduction in terms of the output.

Mr Gibb: Yes, and we continue to, if you like, drill down. We have officials spending significant amounts of time with teachers so we can find out precisely what the burdens are, but we have halved the amount of guidance going into schools. We have reduced the missives that come from the Department for Education, so we have now a termly summary of what has happened. So we are not deluging schools with missives and instructions and guidance and advice from the Department for Education. We want to know what more we can do. We are an open door when it comes to taking away the bureaucratic burdens on schools, and we are just trying to find out as much as we can. We are devoting an enormous amount of time and effort to discovering and then tackling it. It does take time. We have been in office 22 months; we have achieved a lot, but we know we want to do more to relieve these burdens.

Q746 Craig Whittaker: Good morning, Minister. In a previous life, when I was a retail manager and a school governor, it never ceased to amaze me how the performance management of the two sectors was worlds apart. We also had, I think, David Blunkett, a previous Secretary of State, say that we had something like 15,000 failing teachers. Bearing in mind that performance management is a tool not particularly to get rid of those teachers but to progress them, how do you respond to the ASCL’s concern relating to the Teachers’ Standards that "a document which specifies only the minimum could have the perverse effect of lowering teacher aspiration, ambition or vision"?

Mr Gibb: We consulted widely on the Teachers’ Standards and I think this is a remarkably good document. This is a committee of Outstanding head teachers and people experienced in the teacher training sector, chaired by Sally Coates, who herself is an outstanding principal of an Outstanding school. I think if you were to read page 9, 10 and 11 of the committee’s report and look at what are now the teaching standards, you will see that it is far more succinct and it relates far more to the profession of teaching, and it replaces reams of previous standards. So I think it is far better and far more focused than the previous version, which was a huge amount of words, and I am not sure what relation some of those words had to the reality of being a teacher.

We have reformed the Performance Management Regulations. We have got it back to the ACAS Code of Conduct, so it is now possible for a headteacher to counsel out, if you like, an underperforming teacher within a term if the underperformance is that significant to a school. Of course, all good managers of schools want to bring on teachers and want to help teachers to address any shortcomings they have in their approach, but where that fails we do need to help head teachers do what is best for their school and for the education of the children.

Q747 Craig Whittaker: Do you believe then that the performance management is robust enough to achieve what it needs to achieve and, similarly, do you disagree with the ASCL’s reasoning around them believing the Standards are going to have a perverse effect?

Mr Gibb: I do disagree with that point. My understanding is that the head teacher unions are supportive of the reforms to the Performance Management Regulations, but I feel very strongly that these Standards, as revised, are far more effective in enabling a head teacher to monitor the performance of a teacher.

Q748 Craig Whittaker: Can you clarify to us what the new Teaching Agency’s role will be in the registration, regulation and dismissal of teachers?

Mr Gibb: Yes. One of the issues we were concerned about was that it used to be the case that, if you had concerns about the competence of a teacher and you went through the capability procedures and went right through to the end, and the teacher was dismissed as a consequence of those procedures, you then had a requirement to report that to the General Teaching Council for England. That was a deterrent, frankly, because although you may not be happy with the performance of that teacher, you may not feel as a head teacher that their career should be terminated. That teacher simply may not have been suitable for your school, and they may well have performed perfectly well in a different kind of school.

That was a deterrent to head teachers from using that procedure, so we changed the system so that only gross misconduct would be reported to the new Teaching Agency, which takes effect on 1 April, not competence. I think that is a far better approach to the regulation of teachers. We will have a list; the Secretary has said there will be a list of people who have got QTS and there will also be a list maintained by the Secretary of State, which is then delegated to the Teaching Agency, of those teachers who are prohibited from teaching because of a hearing that found serious misconduct.

Q749 Craig Whittaker: Could you tell us which functions of the GTCE will be lost under the new Agency?

Mr Gibb: There will no longer be a requirement for teachers to register with the GTCE with an annual fee, and the Agency will no longer be looking at issues of competence. That is an issue that we believe should be dealt with locally by the school and not by a national body.

Q750 Craig Whittaker: So it is more of a costcutting measure then, because my understanding is that the fee paid was heavily subsidised by Government. Is that correct?

Mr Gibb: Yes. It will save some millions of pounds a year, but the principal reason for moving from the GTCE, which was an arm’s length body, to the Teaching Agency, which is an executive agency, is part of the overall crossgovernment approach to nondepartmental public bodies, which is that where it is essentially an administrative function or a policy function, it should be within the Department itself or, if there does need to be some degree of separation, through an executive agency. Only the purely regulatory arm’s length bodies like Ofqual or Ofsted or Ofcom should remain as nondepartmental bodies. All the other bodies, administrative, policymaking and so on, should be within the Department or in an executive agency.

Q751 Craig Whittaker: Finally from me, could you just tell us why you chose to go down this route rather than doing what the GTC in Scotland have done and go more down an independent route?

Mr Gibb: First of all, to comply with that crossgovernmental policy. Although there is an issue of regulating serious misconduct, that will be handled at arm’s length from the Secretary of State by the Teaching Agency, and we have independent panels that will hear cases where there is serious misconduct. Other than that, it does not need to be in an arm’s length body. It needs to be, we believe, in an executive agency more accountable to Parliament through the Secretary of State.

Q752 Lisa Nandy: When we visited Finland last year they told us that teacher pay and, more importantly, conditions were absolutely crucial in attracting and retaining a high-quality teaching work force and therefore crucial to their success. Do you think your policy of allowing academy and free school heads to lower terms and conditions of staff is at odds with that?

Mr Gibb: I am not sure that academies are lowering pay in order to attract the best teachers. They have the freedom to pay more, and my understanding is that is the freedom that they need to attract the best teachers.

Q753 Lisa Nandy: I am just a little confused about it, Minister, because you said earlier in answer to Graham that you believed that pay was very important. The OECD came out this week with a report that said that pay was crucial in terms of improving performance, and yet Lord Hill, your colleague, wrote to schools that were considering converting to academy status in December 2010, specifically telling them not to enter into agreements to protect national pay and conditions. The letter says that the Secretary of State would be minded not to allow an academy conversion if they entered into that agreement. Why is that, if you believe that pay is important to raising the quality of teaching?

Mr Gibb: Because we believe very strongly in the autonomy of academies and action that constrained that autonomy would act against autonomy. So we don’t want schools to be entering into things that fettered their own discretion.

Q754 Ian Mearns: I am sorry, Minister; that is counterintuitive. It would be completely autonomous for them to enter into whatever agreement they wanted.

Mr Gibb: Yes, and they are free to do that once they become an academy. What we did not want was for schools to feel obliged and pressured into entering into-

Ian Mearns: So that is why Lord Hill wrote them a letter.

Mr Gibb: Yes, to try to counter that pressure.

Q755 Lisa Nandy: So you believe that lowering pay and conditions can be an effective way to raise the status of the teaching profession?

Mr Gibb: No, I think academies have the freedom to pay whatever they need to to attract high-quality teachers into those schools. That is what it is about, and I think the experience is that is what is happening: that academies, in order to get the best teachers, are using their discretion to improve conditions, not to reduce conditions.

Q756 Lisa Nandy: Is the policy of allowing unqualified teachers to teach in free schools consistent with the efforts to raise the status of teaching? Isn’t there a contradiction between allowing unqualified teachers to teach and insisting on a 2:1 degree or above to qualify for bursaries?

Mr Gibb: Again, it is about freedom and autonomy for those schools. We want them to have the same freedom and autonomy as independent schools. There may well be a very highly qualified teacher from an independent school who does not have QTS status but may well be the best teacher of French in the country, and we want to give free schools the freedom to be able to employ that person.

Q757 Lisa Nandy: Again, Minister, I am just a bit confused about that, because if you are, on the one hand, saying that you want to attract ever-higher classes of degree and more qualified people into the profession, why are you then also trying to encourage schools to recruit people who are not qualified?

Mr Gibb: It is not encouraging or prescribing; it is permissive. It is giving those schools the freedom. If you are setting up a free school, you have to compete for pupils and parents. You are new to the area. You are trying to encourage parents to trust you with their children and to educate them and, as a consequence, you will be doing everything you can to demonstrate that you have a very highly qualified staff and you can deliver a very high quality of education. All we are saying is that, if you want to recruit somebody from the independent sector who has a proven track record in delivering very high-quality science lessons or modern language lessons, you will have the freedom to recruit that person.

Q758 Lisa Nandy: When we had the session with the Secretary of State at the end of January, we were overwhelmed with Twitter responses; we had about 5,000 from members of the public. A number of them came from the teaching profession. They accused the Government of misunderstanding teachers, viewing them as the enemy, undervaluing them and conducting an unrelenting attack on the profession. Why do you think this is?

Mr Gibb: As I said earlier, have a look at the Secretary of State’s speeches and you will see that they pay huge tribute to the very highly professional and competent teaching profession that we have in this country, and we are very lucky to have such a profession. But of course when you are explaining why you are reforming, and you have to say you are addressing this problem and that problem-"we are addressing reading, we are addressing maths, we are addressing the concerns of universities about undergraduates coming into university" or "of employers about literacy and numeracy for certain school leavers"-that can be interpreted as an attack on existing teachers.

What we are saying is we have very high-quality teachers. We have some teachers who are underperforming, as there will be in any profession, and we are making it easier for head teachers to tackle that. We are trying to improve the status of the teaching profession, and we are improving the curriculum and we are improving the exam system. That can be blown up by the media to be interpreted as an attack on the teaching profession, and it is that media that teachers read. With the best will in the world, people don’t read politicians’ speeches.

Q759 Lisa Nandy: Just to clarify, your position is that you are getting the policy right, but you are communicating it badly.

Mr Gibb: Well, I think if you look at what we are saying in our communication strategy, you would approve of everything we say. The problem is, we don’t control the press and we don’t want to control the press; they report what they want to report, and then that is read by teachers. We are doing our best to redress that, but it is not always possible.

Q760 Craig Whittaker: Having checked with all my academy conversions locally, every one of them has increased the pay and conditions of teachers. I wonder whether the Government have any solid examples of that happening or, indeed, where pay and conditions have been lowered around the country.

Mr Gibb: I think it is something we should do. Thank you for doing your bit of research. I think it is something we ought to do, and we ought to improve our communication strategy and get that message across, but I think it is something we will do.

Q761 Chair: Minister, thank you very much indeed. Professor Hanushek from America was giving a lecture last night, and, of a class of 30, he suggested that a teacher at the 90th percentile in one year’s teaching adds lifetime earnings to that classroom of $800,000 cumulative each year, and by exact reflection, sadly, those at the 10th percentile have a negative impact of minus $800,000 a year. Do you think we need to be able to give conversions like that, so that people understand with greater clarity the impact of teacher quality on the lives and prospects of children?

Mr Gibb: Well, you have done so very effectively and I thank you for that. There are similar pieces of research that show that a high-quality teacher can have the impact of one grade on a GCSE in a year on a pupil, and that is the kind of research we need to do more to publicise.

Chair: Thank you very much indeed for appearing before us this morning.

Prepared 30th April 2012