Conservatives Plan ‘Elite’ Teaching Force

(Reuters) – DAVID CAMERON will pledge today a “brazenly elitist” recruitment drive for teachers if elected, imposing minimum qualifications on entrants and encouraging high-flyers to apply from other professions.

Launching part of the Conservative education manifesto ahead of an election expected in May, party leader Cameron will promise to make teaching “the noble profession” in a speech at a south London school.

“Only the best professionals with the best qualifications need apply,” he will say, according to extracts of his speech released in advance.

It was not immediately clear how his opposition party, favourites to win the election, would fund the recruitment drive.

The Conservatives say they would act fast to cut Britain’s record budget deficit, and have only promised to ring fence health and international development spending.

Cameron will risk the anger of teaching unions by casting doubt on the suitability of existing staff, saying he would “end the current system where people with third class degrees can get taxpayers’ money to enter postgraduate teacher training.”

Teaching recruits would be required to have at least a 2:2 university degree or higher.

“If we want to give our children the best — it’s time we made our teaching the best,” he will say.

He will point to the examples of Finland, Singapore and South Korea, which have “deliberately made teaching a high prestige profession.”

“They are brazenly elitist — making sure only the top graduates can apply.”

As an incentive, graduates with a 2:1 or higher in shortage subjects such as maths or science would have their university loans repaid.

The Conservatives would also extend the well-regarded “Teach First” scheme — which allows graduates to spend a couple of years teaching before moving on — to people who want to switch careers.

“This will make a huge different to our children. They’ll be able to learn from those who’ve made it in business, in the arts, in the creative industries,” Cameron will say.

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