The hon. Gentleman will already be aware, as a distinguished head teacher who did a brilliant job, that new performance management guidelines were introduced before any discussion of the licence to teach. Those guidelines are relatively recent and have met with the approval of all the professional teacher associations, most conspicuously the Association of School and College Leaders, the trade union that speaks for head teachers such as him. The ASCL has pointed out that there is absolutely no need to inaugurate a licence to teach in order to usher in better continuous professional development. Indeed, the National Union of Teachers, the union that represents the greatest number of teachers in our schools, has argued that the continuous professional development of its members is not helped in any way by the licence to teach. Having listened to the professionals on that, I recognise that the hon. Gentleman has a conflict of loyalty, as both a head teacher and a loyal Back Bencher. However, if he is prepared to listen to fellow professionals, rather than to his colleagues who are temporarily in the Whips Office, he will see that none of them has any faith in the licence to teach as a means of improving standards.
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