Well, with all the Olympic news, it would have been silly not to release this on the opening day of the Olympics. It just goes to show how clever our Government really are. They released this information during the summer holidays when the worlds media are focused on super-human athletic events. Well, wouldn’t you? If you were about to undermine an entire profession, again?
So what am I talking about? The news report that the Government has decided that all academies should be kept in line with free schools and be able to employ teachers who don’t have QTS. They feel that this way, academies will be able to employ real specialists eg. computer scientists. This also puts the academies on a level footing with free and independent schools who don’t have to employ qualified teachers. This can be looked at in two ways.
One. The Government has our young people’s best interests at heart and wants them to have the most qualified specialists teaching them, so that when they leave school, they will put the UK on the map for all the right reasons.
Two. The Government wants even less responsibility and is continuing its plan to reduce its responsibility of educating our young people.
Now I’m not exactly known for my optimism but this has to be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. I’ve worked as a mentor on a PGCE programme at a prestigious university and while the majority of the students were great, some of them weren’t. Trust me, you wouldn’t want the bad apples teaching your children. I wouldn’t have put the bad apples in charge of a pencil let alone a young persons education! And these were the ones who’d got through the application process. These bad apples were dealt with accordingly. If they hadn’t been put through their paces, taught how to handle differentiation or behaviour management strategies, then things would have been a disaster. Those that were excellent, and most were, during their PGCE year excelled with the training they received and made great teachers.
I don’t understand where this idea that anyone can be a teacher comes from. They can’t. The same way that not everyone can perform surgery (I’d pass out!), not everyone can be a premier league footballer and not everyone can be education secretary. Teaching is a juggling act. You have to be able to do 15 things at once, while carrying on at least 5 different conversations and thinking about 10 minutes ahead. All the while you need to be conserving enough energy to get you through the day and onto whatever after school meeting/activity you have to do. This is not for everyone, not even the best PGCE providers can turn you into a teacher. Why the Government thinks that just because someone is a specialist in their field means that this will translate into them being able to teach their specialism is beyond me. It will in some cases, and to those people I say bravo! To those for whom it doesn’t, then you have my sympathy.
And I also realise that not everyone who is a qualified teacher is good at it. I have first hand experience of dealing with someone who should never have been allowed in a classroom. The scary thing is how far up the ladder some of these people get. Even scarier is how hard it is getting rid of someone who isn’t up to the job.
I know the Government will waffle something about more power to the headteacher, better financial controls for the school, etc etc. In some cases this will work. In others it won’t. Some schools are already struggling to see the benefit of being an academy. The financial incentive isn’t there. LEA’s have all but vanished and schools are going to be left floundering. I realise not all schools will jump at the chance of employing teachers without NQT status, but what if they’re cheaper? What if they’re markedly cheaper? How low can we go before we realise that this will cause damage to the education of our young people?