Monday, 30 July 2012

Academy-QTS ruling is not the end of teaching....

Classroom image | CC-BY | Flickr User Marlith
The recent government decision to allow academies to employ teachers without QTS status has caused quite a stir across the sector. Pretty much all of my Twitter stream is against this decision, and on the whole, so am I. Doug Belshaw's post (Is Michael Gove systematically dismantling English state education) pretty much sums up the view of the majority I think. However, I just want to provide an alternative view on this...

This excerpt is my comment on Doug's post...
My brother (BA & MA in History & American Studies) has worked as a TA for the last 5+ years (earning £12k ish) - passionate about teaching and helping kids. He works in a particularly challenging school in Liverpool (it might be an academy, but not 100% sure). Let's just say, it's not great. He's been hit by a flying chair recently when trying to stop a kid attacking a teacher. And yet he's still passionate about teaching when many of his QTS colleagues are not (which often gets him down). He has received a lot of great feedback about sessions he has run (and for some time was seconded to manage the behavioural unit).
For the last 3 years, he has been unsuccessful in applying to study a PGCE at various HEIs in the north west.
If this recent decision regarding QTS gives him the chance to step up (and get paid an average salary) then I'm all for it.

For those that haven't read Doug's post and all the comments, I go on to suggest that although the decision to employ non-QTS teachers has been made, it doesn't mean that a) they will, or b) standards of teaching will now suffer drastically as a result.

There is no threat here to the good teachers; the teachers who actually care. (On my cynical side), we all know of teachers who are in it for the pension - a job for life, and I'm pretty sure they have PGCEs. We need to be careful of thinking those with PGCEs are good teachers, and those that haven't couldn't possibly be (not that anybody has said otherwise).

So on the contrary, if it gives more people like my brother a chance to progress in a career he is passionate about, standards might actually improve. One thing I would hope though, is that Head Teachers are suddenly not going to settle for mediocrity in return for saving a few £££. I would actually suspect Heads will share the feelings of Doug and many others. After all, anybody who has chosen a career in Education (and even those who haven't) should be concerned about our education system.

I completely agree with Doug's response to my comment, in that there is a need for a solid understanding of pedagogy; An understanding of how children learn. @PaulHollins questions the degree of focus upon Pedagogy in many PGCEs - so I wonder if perhaps Gove's decision is in response to this? Does the PGCE currently support the development of new teachers to sufficiently provide the 'future of education', whatever that might be?

There's certainly enough talk about the future of education, so what is needed to achieve it?

Moving along, perhaps there is a compromise. Similar to many HEIs, maybe these academies could introduce probation requirements, for example, the completion of a PGCE (and the sponsorship to put new teachers through it). New teachers could also be coupled with a more experienced mentor, or supported through Peer Review? Learn lessons from what works and what doesn't in support of NQTs, and progress on from here?

Anyway, these are just some of my thoughts on the topic. I don't agree with Gove, and am certainly not trying to understand him, but just providing an alternative view. I'd like to see if others can see any potential positives from this change, or is it all bad?


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