Azara Blog: IPPR wants UK to spend £500m more on teacher training

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Date published: 2008/05/05

The BBC says:

Training days for England's teachers should be quadrupled to 20 a year, costing £75m, a think tank proposes.

The Institute for Public Policy Research says the difference between excellent and bad teachers means pupils achieve more than a GCSE grade extra.

It argues that teaching does not attract the best graduates nor equip them adequately for the challenges of teaching in the 21st Century.

The government and teachers' unions say the country has the best teachers ever.

The IPPR commissioned the Centre for Market and Public Organisation to calculate the impact of teachers on pupils' attainment.

It did this primarily using data collected between 1999 and 2002 to evaluate the introduction of performance-related pay for teachers.

This involved about 6,000 pupils and 300 teachers in 40 schools which, it acknowledges, were not representative of all England's schools.

The study found a pupil taking eight GCSEs and taught by eight "good" teachers would score four to five more GCSE points than the same pupil in the same school taught by eight "poor" teachers. An "excellent" teacher had an even greater impact.
The IPPR has several pages of recommendations, including a national written test for those wanting to train as teachers supplemented by psychometric testing, two years of training not one, more appraisals and 20 days' development a year - up from the current five.

It estimates that moving to a two-year training course would double the cost to £850m a year, while the extra development days would cost roughly four times the current amount, at £75m.

It is interesting how the BBC mentions a cost figure of £75m in the first paragraph, yet buried deep down the article we find out that in fact the real cost of the IPPR proposals is at least £500m. And the IPPR seems to have very little evidence to support the cost effectiveness of their proposals. And it's not just that they admit that their sampling was not representative. There is no mention whether quadrupling the training time of "poor" teachers would actually have much effect. Finally, the fact that the IPPR promotes psychometric testing fairly well discredits the entire exercise. The UK should stop wasting money on these pointless (and expensive) consultancies and instead spend the money on education.

But the prize for the most amusing sentence in the article has to be for the claim that "the government and teachers' unions say the country has the best teachers ever".

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