It appears I’ve managed – completely accidentally, and certainly unintentionally – to offend people who I like and respect, personally and professionally. I apologise for that, as most of the time I only ever deliberately want to annoy Michael Gove and his minions. I hope that the offence has come from a lack of clarity in 140 character tweets, rather than my actual opinions. My aim in this post is to state my opinions clearly; I’d really appreciate comments telling me how successful or otherwise I’ve been with that.
Michael Gove has stated that academies (which now make up more than half of UK secondary schools) can now employ staff without QTS. The statement was released on the opening day of the Olympics, during the summer holidays. There have been many responses to this (a few examples in no particular order: Tom Bennett, Geoff Barton, glosswatch.com, @oldandrewUK), some more measured than others. [EDIT: And a great piece by Laura McInerney at LKMco, go read it now.)
- I think anyone who teaches should have been effectively trained.
- I believe that we need some kind of ‘label’ to gather together the various routes that lead to a person having that minimum level of competence.
- I believe the different routes are not just convenient but necessary to prepare varied individuals for different roles in education.
- Finally, I believe that we need a better system to ensure teachers, for whatever age group and in whatever setting, can record and demonstrate their use of a range of CPD offerings throughout their career.
- Gove’s idiocy is simply way to put non-teachers in academies. Qts is a shorthand for training, presumably FE has equivalent?
- other routes eg b.ed, gtp, @teachfirst, to getting Qts. Agree it’s a flaw in system. Sadly think Gove not interested.
I had never before realised that teachers in some settings, although trained, don’t finish with the same QTS as I have. In my defence, in my setting it’s irrelevant. I now know a little better, for example that in a range of FE settings teachers will attain QTLS, awarded by the Institute for Learning. It seems that QTS and QTLS are almost but not quite interchangable, according to the government.
And so in response to a tweet about whether academies would publically state they would only employ staff with QTS, I typed:
- @geraldhaigh1 @bobharrisonset @warwickmansell qts or equivalent – gtp is still a good approach, or FE equivalent qualification.
Obviously there have been more on this topic, both my own and RTs from others. I thought what I had written, taken as a whole, showed that it is the training – in pedagogy, classroom management, etc etc – that I considered a prerequisite. Of course, PGCE courses aren’t perfect – but I don’t think saying they’re unneeded is the best way to improve them. Should I have used ‘untrained’ rather than ‘unqualified’? Because that was my intention. I don’t care how good somebody is in their subject, it doesn’t mean they have the teaching skills. My post a while back on Jamie’s Dream School makes that clear, I think.
I think allowing academies to hire staff who have not been trained (hopefully effectively) as teachers is a worrying development. There are clearly several ways to obtain this training. As I tweeted at the time, if Gove wants experts in their fields moved into classrooms quickly, why not expand programmes like TeachFirst and GTP routes? The new School Direct route, which includes a salaried option, involves student teachers working in a variety of schools and in many cases also being awarded a PGCE. Until that point, the graduates will be paid as ‘unqualified teachers’, but the point, like every other form of teacher training, is that there is a structured way to gain the skills needed in the classroom. Gove’s suggestion removes this safeguard.
It was not until it was made clear to me on twitter that those of us using QTS as a ‘shorthand’ label for staff who had gone through one of these routes were neglecting FE colleagues, who don’t have the opportunity to gain the same accreditation despite similar training. Hence my point 2 above, as clearly QTS is not properly inclusive. ‘Unqualified’ can be used in several ways, and is ambiguous especially as regards FE, or those ‘en route’ to being a teacher through for example GTP. My fourth point is unfortunately an aspiration, not something we currently do well. I want to record my own professional development – both formal and informal – much better, but the lack of an agreed structure means everyone will use a different method. This is something the GTC could have done while working, if it had really been working in our interests. But this is a separate issue and one I will return to in a future post.
As I understand it, Gove’s decision here is not about FE. It’s about academies. I can’t get the image out of my head of Gove and his lackeys, sitting in an office, rubbing their hands with glee as they see teaching colleagues on the same side ripping each other to shreds. I really hope that those secondary colleagues who have made FE staff angry did so through ignorance, not deliberate choice. I have tried to make my position clearer here, and hope others read, consider and where necessary apologise.
Perhaps now would be a good time to consider what the real problem is. Do we want to argue with each other about how we should use the term ‘qualified’, or should we focus on the skills gained through a variety of routes? Most importantly, should we focus on the problems that might be experienced by pupils in schools which choose to employ untrained staff without the opportunity to learn how to teach?
I’d really value comments and responses. (The title, by the way, was chosen when I was not sure if, on reflection, I would regret my tweets. I’ve decided I stand by them, even if they didn’t express my thoughts as well as they should have done.)