Raising the bar: making England’s teachers the best in the world

The Coalition Government has announced its desire to improve standards in schools and its November 2010 White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, acknowledges that a focus on improving the quality of teaching will be essential to improving schools’ outcomes. As the White Paper argues: “All the evidence from different education systems around the world shows that the most important factor in determining how well children do is the quality of teachers and teaching.”

The Government has already taken numerous steps including abolishing the Training and Development Agency for Schools and the General Teaching Council for England, reforming teacher training and launching a review of teachers’ professional standards. The academies and free schools programmes are creating a more autonomous school system in which the expertise and professionalism of teachers will become even more important.

These changes to the structure of the schools system and to what goes on within classrooms raise some big questions for the teaching profession. How does the profession need to develop within this new framework? How should teacher training for new and existing teachers be adapted? What role, if any, will there be for central government and national agencies in driving teachers’ professional development?

Today’s conference will explore these challenges and look at the international lessons that can be brought to bear as England’s school system undergoes this transformation. At Reform we believe this debate is central to enabling teaching professionals to improve outcomes and value for money in schools. We are fortunate to have a leading group of practitioners, academics and policymakers to discuss the future of the teaching profession and continuing professional development, and to consider both UK experience and international best practice.