UK Politics

'Teacher MOTs': Labour revive classroom licensing plan

Primary school in Surrey
Labour have promised to consult on the plans

"If you're not willing to engage in re-licensing to update your skills then you really shouldn't be in the classroom."

So says Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, who says that teachers in England would have to be licensed every few years in order to work in state schools under a future Labour government.

Does this demonstrate that Hunt is bringing a new tougher, dare one say Blairite, edge to Labour's domestic policy offer?

The truth is that it is too early to tell.

Hunt has revived an idea first put forward and then dropped by Ed Balls when he was childrens and schools secretary.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) organised a mass petition to oppose his idea of introducing a "licence to practice" for teachers which would have to be renewed every five years.

Labour insiders say they feared anything that could be used to undermine hard-won terms and conditions; which might empower heads to remove teachers they didn't rate or which would involve an extension of the time in which teachers could be monitored in their classrooms.

Hunt's plan is far from detailed but is is clear that he has dropped some of the aspects of the Balls plan which the NUT found objectionable.

His plan may involve re-licensing less than every five years (perhaps every seven or nine) and, crucially, it will not involve only heads doing the assessments.

No wonder then that the NUT told the BBC that "the devil will be the detail".