Harmonise teaching qualifications and standards

At the moment there are two different teaching qualifications, both called PGCE. These are the 11-19 PGCE (for schools), and the 14-19 PGCE (for FE colleges and sixth form colleges).  These two different qualifications are managed by two different Quangos, and have different standards. 

The consequence of this is that if you are 14-19 qualified you are only considered a qualified teacher if your students' are funded by the Institute for Learning. Therefore it is possible for a 14-19 qualified teacher to teach identical GCSE content to two different classes and to be a qualified teacher in one (if the students are funded by the IfL), and be unqualified in the other (students are funded by DfES).

There are therefore two parallel bodies of professionals teaching 14-19 year olds that have different and incompatible qualifications. This restricts mobility and employability for highly experienced and capable teachers (particularly those trained in the FE sector).  

I therefore believe that there should be a single flexible teaching qualification that is recognised by schools, sixth form colleges and FE colleges. This will save money in training teachers, and will give teachers mobility and flexibility in their careers. It would open up a wider pool of teaching professionals for schools and colleges.

Why is this idea important?

At the moment there are two different teaching qualifications, both called PGCE. These are the 11-19 PGCE (for schools), and the 14-19 PGCE (for FE colleges and sixth form colleges).  These two different qualifications are managed by two different Quangos, and have different standards. 

The consequence of this is that if you are 14-19 qualified you are only considered a qualified teacher if your students' are funded by the Institute for Learning. Therefore it is possible for a 14-19 qualified teacher to teach identical GCSE content to two different classes and to be a qualified teacher in one (if the students are funded by the IfL), and be unqualified in the other (students are funded by DfES).

There are therefore two parallel bodies of professionals teaching 14-19 year olds that have different and incompatible qualifications. This restricts mobility and employability for highly experienced and capable teachers (particularly those trained in the FE sector).  

I therefore believe that there should be a single flexible teaching qualification that is recognised by schools, sixth form colleges and FE colleges. This will save money in training teachers, and will give teachers mobility and flexibility in their careers. It would open up a wider pool of teaching professionals for schools and colleges.

Reform listed building regulations

It is almost impossible to make an alteration to a listed building without committing an offence of some description. For example, if you have to replace a window in an old building, the building regulations will require you to use double glazed glass panels to enhance energy efficiency. Conservation however will insist on single glazed panels to retain historical relevance. 

Ignoring either building control or the conservation department is an offence, yet you cannot replace the window without ignoring one of them, hence committing an offence. 

We've almost got used to this, but perhaps the law should be clearer, and hand more of theresponsibility for that choice to the homeowner. 

Why is this idea important?

It is almost impossible to make an alteration to a listed building without committing an offence of some description. For example, if you have to replace a window in an old building, the building regulations will require you to use double glazed glass panels to enhance energy efficiency. Conservation however will insist on single glazed panels to retain historical relevance. 

Ignoring either building control or the conservation department is an offence, yet you cannot replace the window without ignoring one of them, hence committing an offence. 

We've almost got used to this, but perhaps the law should be clearer, and hand more of theresponsibility for that choice to the homeowner. 

Reform building regulations

Building regulations have been left in a mess by Labour. I believe that there are three specific problems:

1. The first is to review and make sensible the requirement for building control inspection for domestic building works. These days you can do almost nothing in your own home without having to pay a lot of money for a building inspector to come and patronise you by reading at you from the rule book. There are of course times when the building inspector is needed and helpful, however their remit has been extended  far beyond common sense. 

2. The second is to alter the fee structure of the building inspectors. The current regime is simply about revenue raising for the local authority and not about value for money. The inspectors charge like architects – i.e. the cost of their visit is proportional to the amount of money you are spending on your project. If you require several visits on a small project their fees can easily run into several thousands, and can be a real burden. This is an unacceptable cost, and a symptom of over-governance.

3. Remove the penalty of committing a criminal offence by proceeding without a building control inspection. It is ridiculous to think of getting a criminal conviction for competently and safely making an alteration to your own home because you did not involve local government. This offence was most likely created to ensure work for building inspectors as part of Labour's Soviet style government job-creation project. Surely the responsibility should lie with the homeowner, as it always has done in the past. 

Why is this idea important?

Building regulations have been left in a mess by Labour. I believe that there are three specific problems:

1. The first is to review and make sensible the requirement for building control inspection for domestic building works. These days you can do almost nothing in your own home without having to pay a lot of money for a building inspector to come and patronise you by reading at you from the rule book. There are of course times when the building inspector is needed and helpful, however their remit has been extended  far beyond common sense. 

2. The second is to alter the fee structure of the building inspectors. The current regime is simply about revenue raising for the local authority and not about value for money. The inspectors charge like architects – i.e. the cost of their visit is proportional to the amount of money you are spending on your project. If you require several visits on a small project their fees can easily run into several thousands, and can be a real burden. This is an unacceptable cost, and a symptom of over-governance.

3. Remove the penalty of committing a criminal offence by proceeding without a building control inspection. It is ridiculous to think of getting a criminal conviction for competently and safely making an alteration to your own home because you did not involve local government. This offence was most likely created to ensure work for building inspectors as part of Labour's Soviet style government job-creation project. Surely the responsibility should lie with the homeowner, as it always has done in the past.