A rant about the new QTS standards for teachers and PSHE training for teachers.

As you may have read in my blogpost on rewiring teachers attitudes to homophobia, I was a little cross that the now almost defunct GTC (they cease to exist in April 2012) will now no longer be implementing their code of conduct for teachers – as the equalities section was really rather good.

But then I hear the new QTS standards (from Sept 2012) that new teachers is covering some of the code of conduct that the GTC outlined (kind of).  So I excitedly pootled off to read them.  Well what a disappointment I must say!   Instead of the rather fab fourth principle of the GTC code of conduct:

Demonstrate respect for diversity and promote equality.

Registered teachers:

  • act appropriately towards all children and young people, parents, carers and colleagues, whatever their socio-economic background, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, race, religion or belief
  • take responsibility for understanding and complying with school policies relating to equality of opportunity, inclusion, access and bullying
  • address unlawful discrimination, bullying, and stereotyping no matter who is the victim or the perpetrator
we have the rather woolly:
Teachers uphold public trust in the profession and maintain high
standards of ethics and behaviour, within and outside school, by:
o treating pupils with dignity, building relationships rooted in
mutual respect, and at all times observing proper boundaries
appropriate to a teacher’s professional position
o having regard for the need to safeguard pupils’ well-being, in
accordance with statutory provisions
o showing tolerance of and respect for the rights of others
o 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
o ensuring that personal beliefs are not expressed in ways which
exploit pupils’ vulnerability or might lead them to break the law.
So faiths and beliefs are specifically mentioned but not race, gender, sexual orientation etc.  (Plus they stuck in the “outside of school clause” which has always irritated me.  I am a professional who has a right to a private life. No student will ever see me drunk in a gutter because I am a mug of cocoa and slippers kind of girl but I think professional standards impinging on private lives is a bit much!).
I think the TDA (Teacher Development Agency) have really missed a trick here- it could have been a real opportunity for a requirement for teachers to be equality and diversity role models (which I believe we all should be) but instead it feels they have chickened out and fudged it and it is frustrating.
Add into that a further rant that now PSHE (Personal Social and Health Education and related Sex and Relationships Education, drugs education) now no longer appear at all in the QTS standards, I am worried that trainee teachers will now have even less provision for PSHE (which many teachers are expected to teach even if not trained to do so) within their ITT (Initial Teacher Training).  PSHE used to fall into QTS 15 which states:
Know and understand the relevant statutory and non-statutory curricula
and frameworks, including those provided through the National Strategies,
for their subjects/curriculum areas, and other relevant initiatives applicable
to the age and ability range for which they are trained.

Which although doesn’t mention PSHE directly it does fall under this standard as a non-statuory curricula, as well as the statutory laws relating to sex and drugs ed.

When I trained to be a teacher the standard specifically related to PSHE and Citizenship (plus there were a few more about emotional development, bullying, equality etc):

S2.2 They know and understand the values, aims and purposes and the general teaching requirements set out in the National curriculum handbook. As relevant to the age range they are trained to teach, they are familiar with the programme of study for citizenship and the national curriculum framework for personal, social and health education*.

Again not brilliant but at least it was explicitly mentioned.  I just find it so frustrating that PSHE (including sex ed, drugs ed and the challenging bullying including homophobia etc etc) is often seen as everyone’s responsibility but no-one puts their money where their mouth is and actually supports and trains teachers properly as well as requiring them to meet standards in PSHE and uphold principles of respect, tolerance etc etc.  (I had to do a science PGCE as there was no way of specialising in PSHE until I got into my first job- thank heavens for my amazing boss who let me run with it!).

Also there used to be a fab PSHE certification scheme for teachers – where you could complete a portfolio and get a certificate from DfE basically saying you meet standards in delivering PSHE education (can I just say with a smugface that my epic portfolio was rated v.highly- AND I completed it in my NQT year when normally you ain’t allowed to do it until after you have completed your first year’s teaching [v.proud 😀 ]).  Unfortunately this scheme has now been devolved to local authority level.  Some local authorities are still continuing with it but I suspect in light of the cuts with whole LEA departments for Healthy schools, PSHE, Citizneship etc etc being cut then this is unlikely to still be provided in many authorities.

They keep saying they want better trained PSHE teachers- so why on earth is the training provision getting worse not better 😦 ?  We are still waiting on the curriculum review for PSHE and believe me I shall be adding my two pennorth or three!

So yeah today I am rather despondent about the subject that I love and has the potential to really change the life of a student (and as a result boost their attainment in other subject areas- ahem headteachers).  However you know I do pride myself on being an optimist so I am going to finish by mentioning that the fab PSHE association will be launching some CPD modules soon which will be approx an hour long, nice and bitesize and really give you the opportunity to improve your practice from the comfort of your own home. Win!

For any other help with developing PSHE provision within your school -please contact me.  I may not be able to offer accreditation but all people trained can have a free smiley face certificate or something at the very least (as well as some darn useful training!). 😉


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