Coffee House

Is the government being inconsistent on teacher training?

26 October 2012

To be fair to Kevin Brennan, he seems to have updated his attack line on Michael Gove since his ‘don’t-call-teachers-names’ press release that Labour sent out overnight. The party’s shadow education minister is now attacking the Education Secretary for inconsistency, arguing that his announcement today on improving teacher training contradicts the decision to allow academies and free schools to employ unqualified teachers. He has just told BBC News:

‘But what’s rather strange about what the Government is doing is at the same time it’s saying there should be more rigour in the testing of teachers as they go in to the profession, it’s saying more and more schools can hire teachers that are unqualified. That’s a very strange, mixed message to be giving out about the status of teachers…

‘But the point I’m making is – actually the Government is saying at the same time as introducing this, is saying that more and more schools – academies and free schools and so on – can employ people who aren’t qualified.’

This is a much better point to use to undermine today’s announcement because on the surface it does look strange that Gove is putting some teachers through tougher maths tests, while letting others swan into academies without so much as a qualified teacher status.

But Gove is not being inconsistent. He is trying to improve the quality of a standard teaching qualification, so that a headteacher can have faith when they see a PGCE on a candidate’s CV that their ability to teach has been thoroughly tested. But he has also given headteachers freedom to hire the staff they want: if they find a well-qualified, experienced candidate who doesn’t have qualified teacher status but whose CV demonstrates in other ways that they are capable, then they can hire them. What it boils down to is whether or not Labour trusts headteachers to hire good staff because they care about the quality of their school’s teaching.

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  • Dogsnob

    The past 50 years has put layer upon layer of ‘a certain outlook’ into the education system, to the extent that I can’t see any way to wrest control.

    Right at the top it is firmly entrenched. No-one gains entry at the bottom without they prove that they will replicate the model way of thinking. Any who enter and then – having seen that the emperor is stark bollock naked – try to point out that things are not as they need to be, are eased out.

    The education of the nation’s youth is, you see, too big a prize to be left to those who might allow notions of individual learning development, to stand in the way of the rigid social conditioning demanded by the contemporary ‘politics’ of both left and right.

  • Patrick McElroy

    Work a maximum of 6 hours a day, 09.00 until 15.00, for 192 days out of 365 and get £20K starting salary and the bosses still have to fill jobs with illiterate, innumerate clowns, who have “life experience.” No wonder Little Johhny is a dunce. Six hours of nurse-maiding him must feel like sixty. Any good jobs in Afghanistan?

    • Fergus Pickering

      But Mr McElroy, surely most people in most jobs spend the first hour of the day reading the paper and having tea, and the last hour getting ready to go home. The teachers’ hours are minus that bit. Of course I expect YOU do a twelve hour day at the coal face but most people aren’t like that. In my life I have been an administrator and I have been a teacher. Teaching is MUCH harder work. An office job’s a breeze. I wouldn’t fancy digging holes on a cold day, but I don’t imagine you do that. That’s plebs’ work, isn’t it? Perhaps you are a soldier, as you seem to hint, but that’s your career choice, isn’t it?

  • Mr Arthur Cook

    Such nonsense!
    Gove’s approach to reform resembles a crazed bull in a china shop. We have a man in charge of education who wanted to “reform qualifications” ……but had forgotten that the curriculum was already being reformed. The latter sort of needs to be completed before the former. Perhaps he had some magic way of writing new qualifications without knowing what the subject content would be. Even the Conservative Chair of the Parliamentary Cross Party Cttee on education says education policy has descended into chaos!!!!!!
    Re. Head teacher spotting the huge pool of “unqualified” but highly talented who await a teaching position. Gove knows 3 things:
    1. The number applying to teach is falling on his watch at the same time that demand is going to soar. So why not solve the problem by dragging people off the street.
    2. He can “solve” the problem of teacher shortages in specialist subjects by getting in unqualified and unemployed book-keepers to “teach” maths and “languages” can be “taught” by ….well anyone who can speak French!!
    3. When budgets bite unqualified staff can be drafted in cheaply and in the longer term promise higher profits for the companies who Gove will allow to open for-profit schools.

    But lets trust the market!!. We know that the vast majority of parents wish their child to be taught be a qualified teacher SO lets make heads publish the number of unqualified staff they employ!!! I suggest that it’ll be the inner city pupils who end up with people dragged off the streets to “teach” because middle class parents wont accept it.

    • Fergus Pickering

      I don’t think parents much care about a teacher’s qualifications. The know that many a keen teaching assistant (unqualified) is doing a better job than the teacher (qualified) who may be bored, lazy, stupid, sadistic etc etc. , The teaching qualification doesn’t stop them being any of these things.

      • Mr Arthur Cook

        Our 2011 ComRes poll showed that 89% of parents want a qualified teacher to teach their child, with just 1% comfortable about those without Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) taking charge of a class.

    • John Lea

      Think you need more of an education you mong. It’s ‘let’s’ not ‘lets’, and it’s ‘won’t’ not ‘wont’.

      • Colin

        Oi you fucking cunt, you can’t use the word mong, it’s bad. It’s really fucking insensitive towards dribblers and spacks.

      • Mr Arthur Cook

        You seem cross!! You know Mr Gove now says that you can wander into a school and teach without a qualification.
        You seem like the kind of person people would like to see in front of a class of children setting an example of grace and good manners.

  • John Lea

    I enrolled on a teacher training course at a well-known university a number of years ago and left after about a month. There was no focus whatsoever on teaching or how to control a classroom; instead, there were endless discussions about race (i.e. ‘how to spot subliminal racist behaviour/language’, ‘what is racism’, etc.), and lectures by staff who would talk endlessly about how awful the Israelis were, how terrible Thatcher was, how awful British colonial rule was for Kenya, how everyone has the right to free education. In other words there was no intellectual rigour to the programme, or anything that could be described as useful or constructive preparation for a career in education. Just a lot of left-wing b*llocks. Ensuring students on these courses are well-qualified is right and proper, and I applaud what Gove is trying to do, but people should also examine what passes for a curriculum in these teacher training colleges.

    • 2trueblue

      It is all about the politics and very little content concentrating on the actual base knowledge of those whom we will unleash into our classrooms to further our children’s knowledge. It does not surprise me to learn of the lack of intellectual rigour, which should have been at the top of the agenda. You are well out of it, sad loss though to the profession.

      • Mr Arthur Cook

        All is not lost!!! Gove’s reform now means he can wander into a classroom and “unleash” his right wing incoherent ramblings on other people’s children. Splendid!!! I’m sure that your applauding the idea of flooding schools with untrained staff.
        But let me offer something which will have you fuming and gripping your Daily Telegraph with white knuckles………ready????
        …..Most of these cheap unqualified teachers will be…………..immigrants!!!!

    • Fergus Pickering

      Oh dear. My daughter is going to have to put up with this. Still, I suppose she can sleep through it. Sleeping with your eyes open is a skill worth learning.

    • Colin

      We can say bollocks here mate. See? Bollocks, it’s easy. I think we can even say fuck and fucking, possibly might get moderated if we say cunt though. Maybe if we are creative in our use of the words we can get away with calling it artistic expression, for example, fucking bollocking cunts. Let’s see how that one stands up.
      Now I do agree with some of your points about lefty over sensitive bollocks, a young relative of mine was punished as a racist for telling his mate he liked chocolate cake, he’s 8 years old and now has racism down on his school records.
      But I’m afraid the only thing I could applaud Michael Gove with is a fucking baseball bat. A baseball bat with a rusty nail in the end of it. I’d applaud the hamster cheeked little shit over and over again in his smug fucking face. Mind you if the rumours about the man’s private life are to be believed I’d say he might enjoy it. The cunt.

      • Mr Arthur Cook

        Gracious me – do you have a PhD in swearing from the Cambridge University Institute of swearing?
        Although there is an element of truth to be had!

        • Colin

          There’s an institute of swearing at Cambridge? Well I fucking never, you learn something new every cunting day. There I was thinking it was full of smug cunts weaseling their fucking way into a career in media or politics although these days it’s fucking difficult to tell the difference between the two. Ooh er, see what I fucking did there? Bit of fucking satire for you folks, as the late, lamented Mr Ben Elton used to say, “bit of politics there for you ladies and gentlemen, Maggie Thatcher, what a cunt” Etc Etc. We will fucking rock you.

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            Re. “There’s an institute of swearing at Cambridge? ”
            No there is not. But there should be and you should hold the professorial chair of swearing. I suggest that you start by running a BA in Basic bad language. Those who gain a 2.1 or above should be encouraged to progress to an MA in Advanced expletives.
            **** me – this is an absolutely splendid idea!!!

        • First L

          They used to have this. Unfortunately they had to cancel it when their lecturers – Derek and Clive, passed away.

      • ButcombeMan

        Thank you for sharing that. Do you feel better? Proud? Are you a teacher by any remote chance?

        • Colin

          Me? A teacher? Are you fucking taking the fucking piss Buttman? Are you wearing brown fucking lipstick or are you just talking fucking shit?
          There you go cock knocker, four questions to reply to your three, feel fucking better now, cunt?

    • Mr Arthur Cook

      The fact that you refer to “teacher training colleges”, which we have not really had since the 1960s seems to cast a shadow of doubt over your story. What you describe is the kind of drivel which is pumped out by the ill informed, lazy Daily Mail journalists which I suggest you have cut and pasted.
      However, if your story is true perhaps the profession and children have had a lucky escape. Certainly anyone learning to teach needs and open and critical mind. Are you sure you “left” and were not “pushed”?

      • John Lea

        I didn’t (note apostrophe) actually say that I went to a ‘teacher training college’, dickbrain, I said that I attended teacher training at a well-known university. Half-wit.

        • Mr Arthur Cook

          So you left before the basic manners module then?

  • Daedalus

    You know what I don’t give a monkeys about what qualifications a teacher or anyone else has for what ever job they do (I was going to say I’m leaving my brain surgeon out of this but then whey should I). I just want them to be passionate, informed and capable and be able to teach, or perform brain surgery or repair my car or plaster my walls; to the highest standards. We have gone a long way down a very stupid left turn in the road which says that even nursery nurses should have a degree, no they shouldn’t! They they should love kids, really want to help them, cuddle them when they cry, teach them right from wrong and give them the support they need to become able and positive members of society. Teachers need to know the subject, but they do not need to have a degree in it to teach it, they just need to have the passion to put it across, engage the class and be able to maintain discipline. They do not need a degree! They need to be able to teach!

    • 2truablue

      Tricky to teach a subject to secondary school pupils if you do not have the equipment, i.e. knowledge. If you don’t have it, all the passion in the world will not rescue you when those bright sparks start asking questions and you do not have the answers.

      • Daedalus

        I put in passionate,INFORMED and capable; you will know many people I am sure who know a lot about things they are passionate about, even though they don’t have a degree in it. You need all three together.

        • 2trueblue

          How do you measure the level to which they are ‘informed and capable’?

    • Mr Arthur Cook

      Some people have a passion for DIY. But you wouldn’t want them rewiring your house.


    The job’s largely intuitive.

    Please start
    grading ’em
    on intuition.

  • PhilipWalker

    Well, it’s obviously an easy talking point for the unions. Christine Blower was on the radio this morning, pushing it as hard as she could.

    But it’s also nonsense if you stop and consider it. Headteachers of free schools are recruiting for their institution alone, and it is that single institution which bears the consequences of a lax hiring policy.

    Teacher training courses are accrediting teachers for nationwide work: if you hold qualified teacher status then that is your statutorily-regulated passport which says the government calls you a capable teacher. Since the government doesn’t check each teacher individually (as a headteacher could), the government has to set certain standards — standards which an individual headteacher may choose to flex or ignore based on local conditions.

    • Mr Arthur Cook

      And the owner of a plumbing company has a business which rests on providing good service. They would clearly never employ a cowboy because they are cheap or there is nobody else available. So lets get rid of Gas Safe accreditation and trust in those who’s businesses rely on employing people who they think are up to the job. You can have them in your house – I’ll stick with trained people.

      • PhilipWalker

        Yep, ‘cos potentially blowing up someone’s property is directly comparable to taking on a native French speaker without full qualifications to teach a French class.

  • nilsinela boray

    It’s already a requirement (and has been for many years) that anyone gaining entry to an initial teacher training course requires GCSE at Grade C or above in Maths, English, and for all but KS4 teaching or above, in a Science subject. In addition they will need to have either a UK degree or equivalent; or gain access to an undergraduate teacher training course – which there would generally be a minumum requirement of at least two A Levels. So to introduce a test would seem to be superfluous – and if it’s not superfluous then it would presumably be addressing a problem in the wrong place – surely it would be more sensible to ensure that anyone having GCSE English, Maths & Science, and accepted on a degree course already has sufficient literacy and numeracy skills.

    My own belief is that this is already true – but the Government for some strange reason wants to perpetuate the myth that somehow our GCSE and A level and Degree qualifications are sub -standard.

    There is an issue I believe in teachers qualified overseas having eqiuivalence of qualifications – which these proposals will do little to address – Although Naric does generally a good job of demonstrating equivalence of teaching qualifications and degrees – it’s possible that some teachers may well still struggle in using English to communicate. When schools are hard pushed to find supply teachers to cover short term absence this can be a problem.

    The idea that someone who’s been around a bit and knows the ways of the world can just wander into a classroom and start teaching is a popular myth. The biggest challenge in teaching is not subject knowledge, but knowledge of how education works, and how children learn. I admit though that it is a conundrum as to how we tap into the specific subject knowledge and experience that those involved in “The real world” can bring – I’d suggest paying far higher salaries to teachers might be one way of attracting them, but somehow I don’t see that happening soon !

    Do i trust Headteachers to appoint suitable people to be teachers irrespective of QTS status – well I do at the moment, but a few years down the line, I can see Headteachers being under pressure to bring costs down from their parent companies, and I can see them employing whoever is cheapest.

    If you don’t think this move is inconsistent then I think you may need to take tough English test to find out what inconsistent means – It’s extremely inconsistent. It’s also another mistake, another bashing for the education profession, and another attempt to gradually dismantle the state education system.

    • james102

      The problem with concepts such as: “how children learn” is they have been undermined by our experience of the phonetics verses non-phonetics teaching of reading, mixed ability verses streaming etc; it is not a branch of science after all and subject to fashion.

      Teachers with no experience of life outside of being a student themselves then teaching ,will not be able to understand the working environment the majority of the children they teach will be entering. The transition from education to the working world, unless it is the public sector, can be rather a shock for many young people.

      • ButcombeMan

        Phonics I think you mean. Now “synthetic phonics”

        You are right about the fashion thing though. The “fashion” is the product of the educational establishment who have so deprived two or three generations through low expectations.

        In my observation the real issue is that too high a proportion of those who become teachers could not hack it outside teaching. They are mostly of “a type”and of a culture-public sector anyway, so adding to the mix with some mature students with different life experience will improve the general breed.

        In-breeding makes for weak animals So it is with teachers.

        Paying more to key teachers and high performing teachers will attract a differrent type. Heads need ther flexibility to do that.

        • james102

          We also need to attract more men into teaching as boys coming from homes without male role models are causing a disproportionate amount of problems.

          • Fergus Pickering

            It’s men in PRIMARY teaching you need. It doesn’t help that they are treated as potential paedophiles. My best primary teacher was a man who shouted a lot. Butb he was great.

      • Theodoxia

        I think you’re looking for the word “versus” rather than verses.

  • Fair welfare

    Thanks for clarifying that Isabel. I expect they will have some fast-track teacher training to get people with wider experience into the classroom.

    • james102

      I hope so

    • Fergus Pickering

      There is some already for would-be teachers with First class degrees. That means in the first twenty per cent and not, as it used to do, in the first ten per cent, so quite a lot of the cleverer students.

  • Tom Paine

    Gove’s argument only has internal consistency in the warned minds of Gove-ites desperate to force a one size fits all academy agenda.. Either teaching qualifications are important and should be improved, or they aren’t and the doors should be open two all. You can’t argue both ways.

    • Torontory

      Not sure you would pass the trainee teachers literacy test: ‘warned (sic) minds of Gove-ites’ and ‘open two (sic) all’.

    • HooksLaw

      I thought the whole point of an academy was that is was not a ‘one size fits all’ – as dictated by education authorities.

  • james102

    It is really about getting people with a wider range of experience into teaching.

    To go from school to university to teacher training to teaching simply entrenches a culture that is too detached from the world the children being taught will enter.

    • 2trueblue

      I partly agree with you, but surely it is more important for teachers to be qualified in the subject they are teaching and to structure the careers area better by looking in the various industries, professions, and work places for people to give students regular up to date knowledge and exposure about the workplace? I just want teachers to be competent in their academic field, Heads to run their schools well, parents and students to do their job in the process so that students leave with the equipment to make good choices for their next step in life. I would like the unions to be less at the forefront of our educational system.

    • Mr Arthur Cook

      Most people who train as teachers have done other things.
      If you have your boiler fixed you want somebody who has a qualification which says she won’t kill you. To call yourself a hairdresser you need a qualification. Mr Gove constantly talks about other “high performing jurisdictions” with highly qualified teachers. Do these countries allow people to walk into their schools with no training?… they don’t. But then they aren’t seeking to privatize their schools.

  • BuBBleBus

    And teachers who are failing can be fired, and go back to college to pass the stricter exams.

    • Mr Arthur Cook

      What? I think you’ve completely lost the plot. These “tests” don’t qualify you to be a teacher. You need to pass them to begin training. Try to keep up!

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