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Leaders' Guide to...new Teaching Standards

Education Leaders' Guide to...the new Teaching Standards

image of ascending figurative standards

For NAHT's press statement following the release of the new standards, follow this link.


From September 2012 a new set of standards will apply to every teacher in maintained schools in England. The new standards replace the existing standards for Qualified Teacher Status and the Core professional standards previously published by the Training and Development Agency for Schools.


It also replaces the General Teaching Council for England’s code of conduct, which covers more general issues of professional behaviour.


“Nothing has more impact on a child’s achievement than the quality of teaching they receive and in the new standards for teachers we have prioritised the importance of classroom practice and subject knowledge,” writes head teacher Sally Coates, who led the review into teaching standards, in the forword to her team’s report.


The standards will be used for everything from QTS to yearly appraisals. Initial teacher training providers will assess trainees against the standards – as what could reasonably be expected from them before gaining QTS – and head teachers or appraisers will assess qualified staff against the standards to what could “reasonably be expected of a teacher in the relevant role and at the relevant stage of their career… the professional judgment of head teachers and appraisers will therefore be central to appraisal against these standards.”


The new standards come out of the report of the Review into Teachers Standards, led by Sally Coates, principal of Burlington Danes academy in London. The DfE often likes to pause for reflection before issuing its response to a report it has commissioned. Not so the Coates review of teaching standards. This was published simultaneously with the new standards, lifted directly from the report’s recommendations.


The new guidance comes in at a tightly-written ten pages, full of bullet points. There are now just eight standards for teaching, compared to 33 for QTS and 41 for Core, and just three for personal and professional conduct, compared to eight in the GTCE code. They have been trialled with those who will be the new standards’ main users: ITT providers, induction co-ordinators, teachers and heads, with feedback further shaping the draft.


The Government says it commissioned the review in March because the existing standards are “not fit for purpose”.


The Coates team is now looking at the upper tiers of the existing standards framework, including post-Threshold and Advanced Skills Teacher, and will produce a second report later in the year.


The new standards have been welcomed by the NAHT. General Secretary Russell Hobby said: “I’m pleasantly surprised by this report. It would be hard to deny that it reflects exactly what we want teachers to be doing.


"The standards are clear, concise and relevant. They are not perfect of course - there is a subject bias that will sit awkwardly with primary and special needs teachers. The reference to phonics sticks out like a sore thumb.


"It is right that conduct should be part of the standards. You cannot separate conduct from teaching quality. It is part of the way great teachers inspire students.


"We now need to get to work on fleshing out the standards. What do they look like in different settings? How do they grow and develop over the course of a career? What is the difference between average and excellent?"


NAHT plan to develop additional guidance around the standards, to aid their use in performance management and to create a sense of progression towards good and outstanding. Schools will be able to use these if they find them helpful.


Your questions answered

What are the new standards intended to do?

The Review says they “set out a clear baseline of expectations for the practice of all teachers, from the point of qualification onwards. As such, they will be used by ITT providers to assess when a trainee can be recommended for QTS. The same standards will also be used, albeit in a different context, to assess the extent to which Newly-Qualified Teachers (NQTs) have consolidated their training and confirmed their competence at the end of the induction period.”


Is there anything the new standards are not expected to do?

The report says it is not the task of standards to prescribe in detail what good or outstanding teaching should look like, but rather provide a clear framework within which heads, teachers and ITT providers can exercise their professional judgment.


What does the review say about the standards it has recommended?”

We are confident that they bring clarity and rigour to setting out the basic elements of teaching that all teachers need to demonstrate consistently in order to have the best possible impact on the children they teach. The standards also establish a clear framework within which teachers can identify the areas of their practice that they want to improve even further. Ultimately, we have aimed not to produce an exhaustive and prescriptive list of skills, knowledge and understanding, but a clear and powerful expression of the key elements of great teaching, which I am confident that all schools will recognise and will want to adopt as a part of their commitment to giving pupils the best quality education.”


Do the standards apply to teachers in academies and free schools?

It depends on the specific establishment arrangements of these schools. The standards must be used in maintained schools and non-maintained special schools, and can be used in independent schools if they wish. The Report recommends that all schools should use them.


How do the new standards work?

The document is in three sections:


  • A one-paragraph preamble, which sets out what might be described as a mission statement for a teacher’s practice and attitudes.


  • Part 1, which contains the eight standards for teaching, with supporting bullet points. Assessors of teachers and trainees are intended to focus on the overarching substantive statements, “which may involve more than the sum of the bullet points.” The bullets are to be used in tracking progress against standards during an assessment cycle, to help decide where additional development may be required or where the teacher is making excellent progress.


  • Part 2 contains the standards for behaviour and conduct,  which, says the report, are “non-negotiable expectations in terms of a teacher’s behaviour and conduct.,” and are not expected to be assessed in the same way as Part 1’s Standards for Teaching.


Why don’t the new standards specify how teachers’ performance should improve as they become more experienced?

The Review concluded that it is not helpful for the standards to attempt to specify gradual increments in the expectations for how a teacher should be performing year on year. By defining clearly the framework within which all teachers operate, the standards should provide the parameters within which teachers can identify and address their professional development needs, as appropriate to the role and setting in which they are working.”


What evidence did the review team consider?

They looked at a range of evidence including UK and international research, opinions from users of the standards, and educational experts.


What were the review team asked to do?

The Secretary of State for Education asked for a set of standards which were clear and easy to understand and designed to inspire confidence in the profession. They had to provide a tool to assess teachers’ performance and steer professional development, and focus primarily on the key elements of teaching, including approaches to early reading and maths, behaviour, and supporting children with additional needs. The standards also had to cover ethics and behaviour, including having tolerance for the rights and views of others.


What did the group decide was the purpose of the standards?

They thought the standards should provide nationally consistent benchmarks for the quality of teachers' practice and conduct to improve pupil achievement; a suitable standard of competence and conduct for entry to the profession; a basis for helping teachers to develop professionally, and a clear basis for schools to tackle underperformance and misconduct through performance management.


Why did they replace the existing core and QTS standards with one set?

The report says the duplication between the two existing sets

of standards is such that the differences between them are not

meaningful in practice. The review group says it was “mindful” that replacing two sets of standards used to assess trainees and teachers at different career stages could present a “practical challenge” to end users. “However, the Review has taken the view that a single set of standards defining the key elements of teaching should be applied, as appropriate, to different contexts and career points.”  The review says the key point is that standards are interpreted in a way that is consistent with and commensurate with the context in which the trainee or teacher is operating.


“The Review also believes that introducing a single set of “floor” standards is consistent with the aim of giving greater autonomy to schools, and placing trust in the professional judgement of those who are using the standards in practice.


“So, for instance, a head teacher using the standards to appraise the performance of teachers in a small rural primary school, and to plan appropriate professional development opportunities for those teachers, will need to take account of a different range of factors from the head teacher of a large inner-city secondary school who is making the same judgements. It is right that, in each case, the head teacher should have the freedom to apply the standards in a way that is consistent with the needs and circumstances of his or her school. Both assessments, however, will be made in the context of a nationally recognised framework of standards which define the baseline expectations for every teacher’s performance.”


Won’t it be difficult for established teachers to adapt to meet the new standards?

The review team says it has been careful to draft the standards in such a way as to not place “unreasonable new expectations or burdens” on those teachers who might have been qualified for a significant period of time. “As far as possible, the Review has attempted to make the standards reflect the “timeless” values of teaching.”


Do the standards align with Ofsted evaluations of teaching?

The team has invited Ofsted to consider how its grade descriptors for the evaluation of teaching might be framed to make clear connections with the teacher standards, helping users to “read across” to level descriptors in the inspection framework.


The New Standards for Teachers

The Preamble

Teachers make the education of their pupils their first concern, and are

accountable for achieving the highest possible standards in work and conduct.

Teachers act with honesty and integrity; have strong subject knowledge, keep their knowledge and skills as teachers up-to-date and are self-critical; forge positive professional relationships; and work with parents in the best interests of their pupils.

Part 1: Teaching

A teacher must:


1 Set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils


  • establish a safe and stimulating environment for pupils, rooted in mutual respect

  • set goals that stretch and challenge pupils of all backgrounds, abilities and dispositions

  • demonstrate consistently the positive attitudes, values and behaviour which are expected of pupils.


2 Promote good progress and outcomes by pupils


  • be accountable for pupils’ attainment, progress and outcomes

  • plan teaching to build on pupils' capabilities and prior knowledge

  • guide pupils to reflect on the progress they have made and their emerging needs

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how pupils learn and how this impacts on teaching

  • encourage pupils to take a responsible and conscientious attitude to their own work and study.


3 Demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge


  • have a secure knowledge of the relevant subject(s) and curriculum areas, foster and maintain pupils’ interest in the subject, and address misunderstandings

  • demonstrate a critical understanding of developments in the subject and curriculum areas, and promote the value of scholarship

  • demonstrate an understanding of and take responsibility for promoting high standards of literacy, articulacy and the correct use of standard English, whatever the teacher’s specialist subject

  • if teaching early reading, demonstrate a clear understanding of systematic synthetic phonics

  • if teaching early mathematics, demonstrate a clear understanding of appropriate teaching strategies.


4 Plan and teach well structured lessons


  • impart knowledge and develop understanding through effective use of lesson time

  • promote a love of learning and children’s intellectual curiosity

  • set homework and plan other out-of-class activities to consolidate and extend the knowledge and understanding pupils have acquired

  • reflect systematically on the effectiveness of lessons and approaches to teaching

  • contribute to the design and provision of an engaging curriculum within the relevant subject area(s).


5 Adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils


  • know when and how to differentiate appropriately, using approaches which enable pupils to be taught effectively

  • have a secure understanding of how a range of factors can inhibit pupils’ ability to learn, and how best to overcome these

  • demonstrate an awareness of the physical, social and intellectual development of children, and know how to adapt teaching to support pupils’ education at different stages of development

  • have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with special educational needs; those of high ability; those with English as an additional language; those with disabilities; and be able to use and evaluate distinctive teaching approaches to engage and support them.


6 Make accurate and productive use of assessment


  • know and understand how to assess the relevant subject and curriculum areas, including statutory assessment requirements

  • make use of formative and summative assessment to secure pupils’ progress

  • use relevant data to monitor progress, set targets, and plan subsequent lessons

  • give pupils regular feedback, both orally and through accurate marking, and encourage pupils to respond to the feedback.


7 Manage behaviour effectively to ensure a good and safe learning



  • have clear rules and routines for behaviour in classrooms, and take responsibility for promoting good and courteous behaviour both in classrooms and around the school, in accordance with the school’s behaviour policy

  • have high expectations of behaviour, and establish a framework for discipline with a range of strategies, using praise, sanctions and rewards consistently and fairly

  • manage classes effectively, using approaches which are appropriate to pupils’ needs in order to involve and motivate them

  • maintain good relationships with pupils, exercise appropriate authority, and act decisively when necessary.


8 Fulfil wider professional responsibilities


  • make a positive contribution to the wider life and ethos of the school

  • develop effective professional relationships with colleagues, knowing how and when to draw on advice and specialist support

  • deploy support staff effectively

  • take responsibility for improving teaching through appropriate professional development, responding to advice and feedback from colleagues

  • communicate effectively with parents with regard to pupils’ achievements and well-being.

Part 2: Personal and Professional Conduct

A teacher is expected to demonstrate consistently high standards of personal

and professional conduct. The following statements define the behaviour and

attitudes which set the required standard for conduct throughout a teacher’s



  • Teachers uphold public trust in the profession and maintain high

standards of ethics and behaviour, within and outside school, by:

          • treating pupils with dignity, building relationships rooted in mutual respect, and at all times observing proper boundaries appropriate to a teacher’s professional position

          • having regard for the need to safeguard pupils’ well-being, in accordance with statutory provisions

          • showing tolerance of and respect for the rights of others

          • not undermining fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect, and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs

          • ensuring that personal beliefs are not expressed in ways which exploit pupils’ vulnerability or might lead them to break the law.

  • Teachers must have proper and professional regard for the ethos, policies and practices of the school in which they teach, and maintain high standards in their own attendance and punctuality.

  • Teachers must have an understanding of, and always act within, the statutory frameworks which set out their professional duties and responsibilities.



Susan Young April 2011
Susan Young is an education journalist.
Page Published: 15/07/2011