Academic response to Tristram Hunt’s comments on the importance of teacher quality

Expert comment on speech given by Shadow Education Secretary, Tristram Hunt, at the North of England Education Conference on improving teacher quality and teaching standards.

Professor Rob Coe, Director of the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring at the University of Durham, is at the NEEC and gave this comment:

” ‘Quality, not structures’ was the key message and on this in terms of educational outcomes, the best research is pretty clear: what type of school, how it is governed, funded and managed makes very little difference. What really matters is what happens in classrooms, and the quality of teaching is crucial. The difference between the best and worst here is big, so it should be a rich area for educational policy to address. Supporting all teachers to improve should not just be popular with teachers, but is an approach supported by a range of evidence.

A focus on professional development for teachers at all stages of their careers is rightly a key area of this agenda, and again is one where current practice and policy is out of line with what the evidence tells us we should be doing. If Tristram Hunt can find a way to increase the status and quality of CPD for teachers, and increase its impact on their practice, he will have achieved something very significant. There is a huge cultural distance between what we currently do and a world in which choices about what CPD to undertake could be informed by robust evidence of its impact on learners, however, this challenge should not be underestimated.”

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