In his first major speech as education secretary, Michael Gove spoke of his plans to make changes to training for teachers and school leaders. This week we explore exactly what those changes may entail and the shape of school leadership and professional learning to comepdf-9121556

CPD Week info sheet – Gove on teacher development.pdf

‘Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.’

Michael Gove recently spoke to the National College’s Annual Leadership Conference to offer his vision for the future school leaders. As well as giving the National College a huge vote of confidence (‘In every single one of these areas [for focus and improvement] the National College will be crucial and I hope we can work ever more closely together’), he presented a landscape of ideas, drawn from all over the world, and aimed at getting the very best out of the country’s schools. What works best around the world, says Gove, includes, among many other things:

  • a high level of autonomy for individual schools
  • innovation within schools
  • collaboration between schools for the purposes of improvement
  • a culture of high expectations
  • inspection which focuses on under-performance
  • a high status for the teaching profession.

Perhaps most crucially, though, Gove spoke of the fact that in the world’s most successful education systems, ‘There is a strong culture of professional development which encourages teachers to improve their craft by learning from others while also deepening their academic knowledge.’ The balance of craft underpinned by knowledge is a delicate one which requires careful attention and cannot be left to chance. Professional development, of the kind that can actually impact outcomes, must be properly resourced, in time, money and innovation.

Clearly the associated plans to draw initial teacher training further out of the university/college setting and more into the classroom rely totally on successful methods of enabling trainees to understand pedagogy and effective ways of developing their philosophy of teaching which is built on theory and experience, because neither can be replaced by the other. Contrary to initial reactions, this might, perhaps even should, suggest an ever greater role for HE education departments, and rightly so. However this shift is played out, the need for individual schools and federations to have great working relationships with their local HE institutions has arguably never been greater.

Find out more…

  • Michael Gove’s speech can be viewed and downloaded here.
  • The Teacher Support Network has created a new guide to help school leaders take care of their own wellbeing as well as the wellbeing and work-life balance of their staff. The guide was funded by the friends and families of Graham Hollows, who was the headteacher at Stoke Mandeville Combined School and who passed away in November 2009. Click here to find out more.
  • This info sheet summarises the main points of Michael Gove’s speech to the National College Annual Conference

This e-bulletin issue was first published in July 2010

About the author: Elizabeth Holmes qualified as a teacher at the Institute of Education, London and is the author of several books specialising in the areas of professional development and teacher well-being.