Investing in the next generation of teachers is “crucial” to the Government’s long-term recovery plans
Gavin Williamson says more needs to be done to improve teacher training as the “single most important factor” in schooling is the quality of the teacher.
In a speech to the NASUWT teaching union’s conference, Mr Williamson say that enabling school staff to deliver high-quality teaching to “inspire and motivate a new generation is more important than ever”.
His comments come as the union’s general secretary called on ministers to recognise that teacher wellbeing needs to be addressed to be able to deliver the recovery programme for pupils whose learning has been disrupted.
Addressing teachers at the virtual conference on Saturday, Mr Williamson says: “After all the disruption to our schools, including to teacher training, over the past year, investing in our next generation of teachers, and enabling them to deliver high-quality teaching to inspire and motivate a new generation, is more important than ever and crucial to our long-term recovery plans.
“It is also central to closing the attainment gap, which the pandemic has cruelly exposed between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.”
The Government has made £1.7 billion of funding available in England to help children who have faced disruption amid school and college closures.
As part of the recovery package, this year summer schools will be introduced for pupils who need it the most, whilst tutoring schemes will be expanded.
The Government’s education recovery commissioner Sir Kevan Collins is considering long-term proposals to address the impact of Covid on children.
In his speech, Mr Williamson adds: “We need to go further, faster, to improve the professional training we offer teachers – at all points of their career – and ensure every teacher benefits.
“This will be central to the recovery plan that I am working on with Sir Kevan Collins, and while I do not want to pre-empt his findings, let me say I am confident this is going to feature strongly.”
Mr Williamson will highlight the Government’s early career reforms which he said will give new teachers “at least three years of support in the first years of their career” when combined with Initial Teacher Training.
He added that ministers will extend the induction for early career teachers from one year to two years from September.
The Education Secretary will say he values speaking to teachers, heads and unions “now more so than ever” amid the pandemic and he will thank the NASUWT’s leader Dr Patrick Roach for his “constructive engagement”.
“I hope that this collaboration will continue to develop over the weeks and months ahead as we build back better,” Mr Williamson will say.
His comments came as a NASUWT survey found that 79% of teachers feel their job has adversely affected their mental health during the pandemic.
Dr Roach said: “Ministers and school employers must recognise that to deliver the programme of education recovery vital for the nation’s children and young people, teacher wellbeing has to be recognised.”