The Teachers’ Standards


You will be aware of the Teachers’ Standards if you have trained to be a teacher since 2012. They will be referred to during lesson observations, the appraisal process and any disciplinary or capability procedures you may be subjected to.

In this article, we provide an overview of the Teachers’ Standards, who they apply to and how they should be used.

What is the history of the Standards?

The Teachers’ Standards were introduced on 1 September 2012 by the Department for Education (DfE) to set a clear baseline of expectations for the professional practice and conduct of teachers.

The Standards replaced the ‘standards for qualified teacher status’ and the ‘core professional standards’, previously published by the former Training and Development Agency for Schools.

The Secretary of State for Education at the time explained that the Standards … “set clear expectations about the skills that every teacher in our schools should demonstrate. They will make a significant improvement to teaching by ensuring teachers can focus on the skills that matter most.”

Who do the Standards apply to?

The Teachers’ Standards guidance document explains that the standards apply to the vast majority of teachers regardless of their career stage. They are only applicable to teachers in England, there are different professional standards for teachers in Wales.

The Standards are used to assess the performance of all teachers with QTS who are subject to The Education (School Teachers’ Appraisal) (England) Regulations 2012.

They apply to teachers in maintained schools, including maintained special schools, who are covered by the 2012 Appraisal Regulations. Academies and free schools are not required to follow the Standards, although they can decide to.

The Standards also apply to headteachers.

We have produced another article which provides an overview of the appraisal process and the Education (School Teachers’ Appraisal) (England) Regulations 2012.

What are the Teachers’ Standards

Below we have summarised the Teachers’ Standards. They are are in two parts.

Part 1: Teaching

A teacher must:

  1. Set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils
  2. Promote good progress and outcomes by pupils
  3. Demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge
  4. Plan and teach well structured lessons
  5. Adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils
  6. Make accurate and productive use of assessment
  7. Manage behaviour effectively to ensure a good and safe learning environment
  8. Fulfil wider professional responsibilities

Part 2: Personal and Professional Conduct

Teachers uphold public trust in the profession and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviour, within and outside school, by:

  • Treating pupils with dignity, building relationships rooted in mutual respect, and at all times observing proper boundaries appropriate to a teacher’s professional position
  • Having regard for the need to safeguard pupils’ well-being, in accordance with statutory provisions
  • Showing tolerance of and respect for the rights of others
  • 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
  • Ensuring that personal beliefs are not expressed in ways which exploit pupils’ vulnerability or might lead them to break the law
  • Teachers must have proper and professional regard for the ethos, policies and practices of the school in which they teach, and maintain high standards in their own attendance and punctuality
  • Teachers must have an understanding of, and always act within, the statutory frameworks which set out their professional duties and responsibilities

How should the Standards be used?

The Standards are used broadly in the following areas:

  • Assessing teacher performance
  • During the appraisal process
  • Training and inducting new teachers
  • Assessing personal and professional conduct

The DfE explains that headteachers (or appraisers) should assess teachers’ performance against the standards to a level that is consistent with what should reasonably be expected of a teacher in the relevant role and at the relevant stage of their career (whether they are a newly qualified teacher, a mid-career teacher, or a more experienced practitioner).

The DfE says the standards set out clearly the key areas in which a teacher should be able to assess his or her own practice, and receive feedback from colleagues. As their careers progress, teachers will be expected to extend the depth and breadth of knowledge, skills and understanding that they demonstrate in meeting the standards, as is judged to be appropriate to the role they are fulfilling and the context in which they are working.

Teachers applying to access the upper pay range will be assessed as to whether they are highly competent in all elements of the Teachers’ Standards and whether their achievements and contribution to an educational setting are substantial and sustained.

Ofsted inspectors will consider the extent to which the Teachers’ Standards are being met when assessing the quality of teaching in all schools (including academies).

The Teaching and Regulation Agency can use Part 2 of the Teachers’ Standards when hearing cases of serious misconduct, regardless of the setting in which a teacher works.

What should I do if I’ve been assessed incorrectly against the Standards?

In this first instance, you will want to have an informal conversation with your line manager to clarify your understanding about why you haven’t reached a Standard or where you need to improve. 

You should not automatically be placed on capability procedures if you have not met one of the Teachers’ Standards during a lesson observation.

We advise contacting us for further advice and support if you are concerned about how you are being assessed against the Teachers’ Standards.

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