Reflecting Badly

01Aug12

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.

The Background

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.)

My Beliefs

  1. I think anyone who teaches should have been effectively trained.
  2. 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.
  3. I believe the different routes are not just convenient but necessary to prepare varied individuals for different roles in education.
  4. 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.

My Tweets

  • 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:

My Opinions

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.)

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28 Responses to “Reflecting Badly”

  1. I wouldn’t want my car to be serviced without someone with an appropriate level of training and qualification in mechanics. I wouldn’t trust my hair cut to someone who didn’t have appropriate training and qualifications. I wouldn’t get behind the wheel of a car by myself without driving lessons and a successful test. I wouldn’t go to an doctor who hadn’t been to medical school (and I wouldn’t go to a homeopathic practitioner!)…

    Why is it though, that the people who are setting people up for these careers can do it without formal qualifications?

    We have children being taught maths by teachers without even A levels in maths, or A levels at all!

    We need a minimum education level (degree) and pathways to ‘chartership’ or ‘QTS’ after that. Employing Joe Bloggs cover supervisor to teach science though, is not on.

    Further Education is a different issue, children have a choice at that point and the work is more specialised, sometimes an industrial person is better.

    • 2 IanH

      I disagree only on your last point – I think that all teachers need be trained in the science/art/craft of teaching. I do think that this will probably need a different form, depending on setting. This may mean that in FE more teachers will follow a route equivalent to School First, I don’t know. But just as there is a common basis between primary and secondary teacher training, there must be links to those in FE. (It’s interesting to contrast this, of course, with the expectations of those lecturing/instructing in universities.)

      • Badly worded by me: FE still need the appropriate pathway to chartership, but a degree isn’t necessarily necessary. E.g. Someone teaching Painting and Decorating may not have a degree level qualification, but has, instead, 40 years experience in the trade. However, once given a lecturer job, training and monitoring needs to be done to ensure that within 18 months they’re at a certain level of teaching skill.

      • 4 IanH

        I see what you mean, sorry! Yes, I think it’s important to separate the subject knowledge (which can be gained in a number of valid ways) and the teaching skills (which will need both ‘classroom’ experience and pedagogy in varying proportions). Gove and others seem convinced that if you have the first, somehow the second is irrelevant. It is, sadly, a little more complicated than that…

    • 5 Paul

      Not all children have a choice in FE. Mine are required by the Education Act and often court order to attend, as they are pre-16 learners doing their GCSEs in Year 11.

      • 6 IanH

        Thanks for the comment, Paul. I think like many secondary staff I often forget those under16s in FE, simply because we don’t see it happening. Hmm. It would be interesting to do some paired observations, come to think of it…

        I think Gill followed up her first comment nicely by pointing out what I’d not thought of, that we need to remember a range of ways of getting the subject knowledge too.

  2. 7 Helen Rogerson

    I am extremely cynical about why Gove has decided to scrap the need for QTS for academies. And I worry that teachers recently out of a training programme will get trapped in certain schools unable to get QTS and unable to work elsewhere.

    For some reason Gove wants to kill university education departments and I can’t think of any other reason than he wants to privatise teacher training.

    Worrying times.

    • 8 IanH

      Thanks for the comment! Yes, as interesting as proposals like School First are, it does seem as if university education departments are being excluded from the process. I wonder if they have decided that it’s better to support school-based student teachers, rather than taking a leading role, because it’s better than nothing? I’m trying hard not to be cynical but it’s hard to justify dropping the need for some kind of ‘accreditation’ solely on the desire to allow subject experts into schools.

      • 9 Helen Rogerson

        Yes, it isn’t for allowing foreign teachers to teach or FE teachers etc, but was expressed as for subject experts, which I find naive at best. There are schemes to get subject experts to interact with students, (stem ammbasedors for example) Gove should encourage this instead.

      • 10 Ellie Russell

        I had a great team of people supporting me during my PGCE, both within the schools I trained in and the university too. It was the right route for me though I accept that there are several other successful ways that work for others these days too. As people have mentioned before there are already several ways of employing people without QTS so there really is no need for this blanket statement…unless you were gunning for the universities and colleges training the teachers. Mmnn…
        Much as I am happy to mentor PGCE students I wouldn’t feel comfortable with taking on a bigger role as well as teaching my students too. It was the support I had at the beginning of my career (fabulous uni tutor and brilliant school mentors) that gave me such as good start. I felt sorry for peers who I could see we’re working in places where their experiences were less positive. I’d like to think that whatever route people took to join the profession they had a team of experienced, enthusiastic and very motivated people to work with who could give them the real time needed.
        I am very suspicious of where Mr Gove is going with all this.

  3. Ian, thank you for this post, and I think you have hit the nail firmly on the head with it.

    I have been one of the ones upset by some of the things being said. As someone who cannot gain QTS due to working in FE, seeing the repeated mantra “No QTS, No Teacher” is quite hurtful. And while many secondary teachers are saying “well of course we don’t mean FE, we’re only talking about our own sector” etc, the point is that reducing a complex issue to soundbites removes the subtlety and nuance from the debate. But it is the soundbite that becomes the debate point, and that then gets blown back up into the main argument. Witness the awful petition to DfE. Regardless of the intentions, by the plain wording of it it covers those of us in FE, and it states that nobody should be allowed to teach (no distinctions) unless they have QTS.

    I’ve wound up in arguments with people I counted as friendly, and had to stop following people on Twitter over this! I was deeply disappointed to see that even Tom Bennett made the claim that allowing the hiring of people without QTS meant taking on people with no teacher training. That is plainly wrong – by definition an NQT does not have QTS, but nobody would deny they haven’t had teacher training!

    There is a world of difference between “untrained” and non-QTS. The former is the danger to the profession. I wonder if the problem is the use of the word “qualified”. Qualifications to my mind are the PGCE, B.Ed, DTLLS, whatever qualification that trained you for teaching. QTS or QTLS are different. Perhaps “accreditation” would be a better word than “qualified”. Especially when you consider that if you are not “qualified” you are by definition “unqualified”, with all the connotations of being amateur, unskilled, and poor at your job.

    I’ve come from a profession which demanded annual reaccreditation, linked to evidence of CPD. Perhaps QTS should take a simliar route? Periodically renewed on evidence of CPD covering both subject knowledge and pedagogy?

    On a personal note, I know that you didn’t meant to cause any offence Ian. 140 characters is not enough to say all that needs to be said about these things! As it is, my own comment here is turning into a blogpost of its own!

    • Maybe we all need to remember that 140 characters means our tweets are *always* soundbites, effectively. I know you mentioned that petition, but I must admit I’ve not gone looking for it; sounds like a knee-jerk reaction. In some ways being able to do things like this electronically, rather than on paper with a signature, encourages people to be more extreme than they would be otherwise. (I am not excusing their actions or wording, please note – just thinking aloud)

      I like your distinctions in language – perhaps QTS should be changed to ATS? I shall try and use that kind of language from now on. I’m looking at the RSci andCSciTeach, but it seems crazy that I have to look at something subject-specific rather than an agreed, national accreditation. Especially if we bear in mind that Gove or his successors are unlikely to use such things to provide exemptions to the possible ‘master teacher’ status.

      I like your idea of continuing accreditation – like the idea of a ‘licence to teach’ that was floated a little while back. I’ve been meaning to formalise my record of CPD, but have put it off because of changing standards. Maybe I need to bite the bullet and justdo it my own way. Or perhaps teacher training/CPD professionals could crowdsource a framework for the recording? I’m imagining a simple word/google doc, with four columns; Date, title/summary of event, brief reflection (which could be hotlinked to more detail if appropriate) and finally a column to note link to standard(s). This standard format could then be used for relevant standards in each sector, with simple icons e.g. Ped-1.2, SEN-2.1 etc. Hmm. Maybe I should think about this some more and blog it…

      • Interesting ideas about accreditation here. The trouble with the specific approach you’ve mooted is it encourages a box-ticking and slightly superficial engagement with topics to simply show that they’ve been ‘done’ rather than any real progress made. For me, teacher professionalism should mean adapting known effective strategies to your own school and classroom using a collaborative action-research approach – i.e. the type of CPD that has been shown to improve outcomes for pupils in the long term. The interesting idea would be to be able to demonstrate that you have up-to-date knowledge in a variety of different areas and to have a record of your research and expertise.

      • My thinking is that this kind of summary would be a record for reference, matched ideally to the teacher’s set of notes. A column or section for reflection – summing up how the ideas could be applied in the classroom and the results of that – would still show more than current ‘attendance’ record does. I think this deserves a blog post of its own.

  4. 15 Carol Davenport

    Interestingly, the requirement that FE lecturers have QTLS looks likely to be retained, and BIS are looking to set up a Guild for lecturers who work in the sector.

    http://feweek.co.uk/2012/08/01/skills-minister-calls-on-sector-to-bid-for-ownership-of-new-fe-guild/

    This suggests that the value of a professional qualification is being recognised by one government department, but not by another.

  5. 16 Suze (@Suze01)

    You’ve made your point well.The issue is essentially divisive, especially for FE colleagues and it’s been hard to see how devalued some people have been made to feel, when it is clear that they have a real passion and talent for what they do.

    I know people who would be outstanding teachers, but do not have PGCE + QTS but due to personal and family commitments are not in a position to gain it. Conversely, as a secondary PGCE mentor, I have also seen trainees passed by their institution against my advice – so sometimes it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

    I think what has provoked the reaction from secondary teachers is that this just feels like another attack on our ‘professionalism’. It seems that not a day goes by without Gove dreaming up another way to undermine the brilliant work that is done by the majority of teachers/lecturers in this country. And very cleverly done while everyone’s on holiday…

    • These extended conversations have been invaluable. Away from the soundbites, it is refreshing to see so many teachers (regardless of our sector) saying the same things. We want our professionalism respected in the case of secondary, and recognised in the case of FE.

      Unfortunately stilll getting the odd idiot on Twitter saying that Grade 1 FE lecturers with PGCEs need to study educational psychology, sociology and philosophy (all of which are covered btw) and then they are “nearly” on the way to becoming teachers. How demoralising!

      • Hello Paul, I’m more than happy to defend and justify my comments – it seems my posts on here have not been published. I think I have sorted it out and hopefully this one will be seen by you.

        Your attitude of verbal abuse on twitter really does you no credit. You may not like what I say, but it is a fairly ordinary viewpoint for a secondary teacher to hold. Enlisting your wife to join in the abuse is the mark of a bully.

        I am quite baffled at why FE lecturers want to have QTS, and think they deserve it. It is a qualification that relates to training and experience in the compulsory sector.

        I have taught in FE for 5 years, but for sake of argument – if I had not – it would not bother me in the slightest that I could not call myself an FE Lecturer. So why should FE lecturers want to adopt QTS?

        These regulations are what prevent you and your wife being employed as teachers in an Infant School. I think we should all be very grateful that these safeguards exist.

      • Fifi, this is the first post that made it past spam filters – I’ll check them when I can (currently using my phone) and approve them if appropriate. [EDIT: have checked, they’re not there. I presume problem is at your end]

        I’m sorry you’ve used this forum to continue your insults to FE staff in general and Paul in particular, rather than reading the post and realising how much of what you say is missing the point.

        I feel you have over generalized on two points. Firstly by your assumption that gaining qts somehow magically grants teaching skills, when in fact there are many routes which can do so but with, currently, different ways to label them. It’s also worth noting that as long as there are teachers in secondary with qts who are hopeless teachers, claims that it is sufficient are doomed to fail. Secondly, you and others may *mean* ‘secondary state sector’ teacher when you talk about qts being needed, but if you don’t say or write that part it ignores those in other areas who are, without a doubt, teachers as well.

        Finally, I will simply say that any strength your opinions had is hugely undermined by your personal and unnecessary comments to Paul, both here and on twitter.

        [EDIT: that you have now blocked me on twitter rather than continue to engage with the discussion is interesting, and provides an intriguing contrast to my choice to publish your comments, which I disliked strongly, on my own site. I would point out that anyone you have blocked can continue to read your tweets, past and present, simply by following this link while not logged in.]

      • Ian – there is nothing abusive to FE lecturers in any of my comments – people can read them and see for themselves. The verbal abuse has come from Paul and his wife.

        It would be appropriate for you to place a link to the abusive posts from @panderson1979 and @morphosaurus (Paul and his wife)

        I think it shows clearly why it is not a good idea to assume that all FE lecturers would be suitable to teach 4-16 children.

        I’m surprised that you would want to support their behaviour.

      • I disagree and tweets like this one show that you have been both insulting and potentially libellous. Would you really make this comment in a public forum – say a staffroom, or a letter to the TES? How would you justify that kind of comment? Either you do not know Paul, in which case you shoudl not make the comment, or you know him well enough to make the comment in private. I suspect the former is true.

        I think it odd that you feel you can say what is appropriate for me to do on my blog. This is not a public forum.

        I do not know of any tweets from Paul or Julia in which they claimed FE experience meant they should automatically be able to teach 4-16s. Instead they objected – strenuously in some cases, yes – to suggestions that they could not be considered skilled teachers just because they have do not have QTS.

        I neither support nor condemn their behaviour, which in most cases has been in response to what they see as ignorance or malice from ill-informed individuals. When they tweeted that they saw me as part of the problem, I apologised if my tweets had been offensive, backed off while I read through them, thought about it and then posted the original piece above. When you objected to their comments, you continued to make ill-informed personal comments and attacks, commented on my blog without reading the original point, then blocked them and myself on twitter.

        If your next post is not substantive, then it will be removed. This will apply to any comments which descend into name-calling or spite. Comment on the ideas, not the people. Come on, this is the holidays. I shouldn’t be having to use classroom management skills on my blog.

  6. 22 MaryUYSEG

    Thank you, Ian, for generating a valuable discussion. One of my problems with #SciTeachJC and #ASEChat is to express myself in 140 characters.
    I have taught in FE, state schools and independent schools, and it amazes me that independent schools are willing to take on (and not train) graduates, if I were a paying parent I would nto be pleased to realise I was paying for my child to be taught by someone without any training either in school or otherwise.

    • Thanks for pointing that out Mary – how do teachers in the independent sector gain or improve skills without commitment from their settings? With difficulty, I imagine.

      Yes, I know what you mean about twitter – I find it works well to state an idea, but not to explain it. And as for trying to justify or defend an opinion on a far from complex matter… As is the case with any brief statement of position, easy for the writer to assume the best interpretation and the reader to assume the worst.

  7. Ian, Paul, Julia,

    I am happy for my tweets to be linked to here – but in fairness I think I can reasonably expect you to link to the tweets from @panderson1979 and @morphosaurus. You do seem reluctant.

    Let the evidence speak for itself.

  8. As the debate has once again derailed into the “only QTS and nothing else” realm (which is what upset the FE lectures in the first place), shall we try to refocus it a little?

    Many, including Fifi, have stated that FE and secondary are two different sectors with different skill sets. This has been used as a reason to deny FE lecturers QTS, and to say we ought not to be allowed to teach in schools.

    If that was all, then this would be a fairly defensible position, one that I could even go along with. But QTS enables you to go into FE and teach there. That’s a double standard. Why, if FE and secondary require “different skills”, should QTS allow you to teach there, when an FE qualification does not allow the reverse? That’s why the sector fought to have QTLS recognised in secondary. It was a demand for parity, not that we would instantly march into secondary schools and expect to teach. As it happens, I have no intention of teaching in secondary. I prefer to teach the children that the secondary sector has given up on, the ones who have been excluded due to their behaviour.

    For those who had actually read Ian’s blog post, and the excellent comments on it, you would see that the issue was a complex argument was reduced into “if you don’t have QTS you shouldn’t be allowed to TEACH”. No exceptions, no nuance. This is what engaged and enraged the FE sector. When that argument was first floated, Julia and I both worried that someone outside of the sector would see that, and use it to attack FE as unprofessional, amateurish and unsuitable to teach. I hadn’t excpected the attack to come from a so-called professional in secondary, but Fifi stepped up to the plate beautifully to make just those arguments on the basis of anecdote (since this is a science blog, say it with me – “the plural of anecdote is not data”).

    We in FE do teach, even though we don’t have QTS. Claims that we are “dangerous”, should be “supervised” etc show a lack of professional understanding that causes rifts between sectors which, as has been said time and again, ought to be standing on the same side in this issue.

    We teach the same GCSE and A Level subjects as secondary, to the same age groups, to the same national standards, with the same assessments. We undertake teaching qualifications. Certain secondary teachers in their ignorance have not realised how much pedagogical training this involves.

    It was this ignorance Fifi which I addressed when you first accused me of insulting you. You had told a grade 1 assessed, PGCE holding FE lecturer that IF they now studied educational psychology, sociology and philosophy then they would NEARLY be a teacher. Ignoring the fact that the PGCE amply covers these areas, that was an incredibly condescending, smug and supercilious thing to say to someone; and those were the exact things I said. Take them as an insult if you wish, but the perfectly described your attitude to Liz Dudley.

    A false dichotomy has been brought up about the compulsory and post-compulsory sector. As noted above, we in FE teach the same academic qualifications as in secondary (we aren’t all plumbing and hairdressing you know). As the government is planning to ensure that all students stay in education or training until the age of 18, FE itself becomes part of the compulsory sector. Indeed, I don’t even teach 16+ learners. Mine are pre-16. I teacher Yr 11, and this year I’ll be teaching Yr 10 too. Our youngest enrolled student at the College is 13.

    On a more personal note, if Fifi wishes the evidence to speak for itself, then I would invite her to provide the evidence of the alcohol problem she wants me to get help for. That is a libellous accusation, but as she is content to stand by it I’m sure she has the evidence. If not, I shall expect a public retraction on Twitter, an apology, and an acknowledgement of the falsehood. I would also expect to be unblocked so that I could see and acknowledge the retraction.

  9. Some interesting points made. I admit that I was quite ignorant of the FE position before. Although I have known many specialists employed as instructors etc the ones I know have all been working towards that magic QTS/ QTLS so I think I had just assumed that it was expected and that they were equivalent.

    I basically agree with your premise that all teachers, regardless of sector, should be effectively trained.

    Regardless of route we deserve the best training and support, especially in our early years. Regardless of sector there are commonalities that should be addressed in training and monitoring of professional development of staff. It is the demonstration of that common knowledge and skills that should determine whether you make the “qualified”. How this is achieved may be different for each individual but they should have equal standing. As long as a teacher can demonstrate their development in those common areas they should be accepted to teach in any sector they wish to work with minimal retraining IF needed.

    The idea mentioned of accreditation and licensure is an interesting one. Having gone through such a scheme when teaching in the USA I can see some benefits to this idea although I agree that it can lead to box ticking. As with many things a lot is in the implementation.

    For me QTS, or its equivalent, provides a kind of quality control mark that says yes this person has demonstrated that they know and can do certain things. I personally always felt that obtaining QTS was a start point to my career. It meant I could be trusted to go it on my own and was able to reflect on my own practice to develop myself further. I think that like other professions, we should be encouraged to stop once in a while and reflect on what we have done to keep our knowledge and skills relevant for the students we teach. In this regard having Chartered Status would help (I am thinking of my former engineering colleagues here).

    My biggest problem with the removal of QTS in academies is that administration may feel they are no longer obliged to support teachers in their development. That to develop, new teachers are going to have to figure it out with no real support and guidance. And whether we like it or not, it does send a signal to the wider public that it does not matter if the teaching staff are properly trained and that teachers are not professionals.

  10. 27 mrweatherallscience

    I’ve attempted to sit down to write a comment on this post for the last few days. I can’t sleep so now seemed as good a time as any. My original intention was to write a post myself, but after 3 false starts, I’ve given up.

    I’ve got two main points that I want to try to make so here goes:

    I’ve watched with interest, and increasing bemusement, the ad hominem remarks about invidual teachers’ teaching abilities or knowledge of pedagogy and the assumptions made on both sides that generic comments made in relation to this announcement are aimed at them or their sector. (Disclosure: I know many of the commenters here and the blog writer and consider them respected online colleagues who actively and positively take part in many discussions about teaching science online.) I find the professionalism of the teaching twitterati to be generally second to none, when taking part in #asechat and #sciteachjc for example.
    However whenever the DfE put out a statement as they have done here we seem to see red. Twitter buzzes with shock and anger at the latest pronouncement. Some of it is valid, and other is knee jerk because many of us fundamentally disagree with so much the Secretary of State is doing (but of course, not all of it). Anyway, my twitter stream a week last Friday was a mixture of wondered amazement at the Olympic opening ceremony and jaw dropped incredulity at the QTS announcement.

    Reading some of the comments on twitter over the last week reminded me of my first experience with the current raft of educational policies. I want to explain how I felt in January 2010 when I’d handed my notice in and started the subject enhancement course on my journey to becoming a teacher (I have just last month finished my NQT year). I read in the paper http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jan/17/cameron-tories-teaching-standards-prestige that if the Conservative party were to win the election that I might effectively be barred from undertaking a PGCE as my degree level was lower than 2:2. I was physically sick when I read that, as I’d just spent months agonizing over my change of career.
    As we know, they did get in, but I’d finished my PGCE before that particular policy came into effect. I had the good fortune to attend the IOPs celebration of new Physics NQTs last July which included a evening at the House of Commons bar thanks to Julian Huppert. It also included the honour of listening to Nick Gibb announce the policy that had made me throw up a year and a half earlier. I’m sure you can see me grimacing in the photographs.
    This policy is now in effect and I confirmed with my old PGCE tutor last month that if I’d applied this September, I wouldn’t be on the course, based on that change in policy. So I can fully understand the anger that some people are feeling when they read #noQTSnoteacher.

    This, of course, was an anecdote waiting for the data that their policy has improved teaching. I suspect it’ll be a long wait.

    The second point that I’m circumlocuting my way to making is that the DfE have now announced a policy on QTS that is:
    a) not required, as many headteachers have commented they can already employ staff without QTS to take up peripatetic teaching roles in school.
    b) not required, as there are many routes into teaching that would allow a good graduate to train on the job taking a part time qualification as they go if necessary.
    c) inconsistent with their (mistaken in my opinion) view that teachers require a 2:2 degree or above.
    d) divisive in so many ways, some of which have been demonstrated in the posts above.
    e) cynical in the way it was announced… 3 hours before the greatest show on earth. Impeccable timing!

    Various conversations over the week have helped me decide where I stand on this subject; of course I’m not Secretary of State for Education but if I was:

    This QTS announcement would be retracted, as would the ridiculous restrictions on degree level.

    Teaching is a profession, which requires substantial training, and ongoing commitment to professional development. That training could be in school/college, University based, masters level or post grad. We should work & be supported towards accreditation.

    ALL teachers primary, secondary and FE that have trained whether through GTP, PGCE, DTLLS or TeachFirst should be able to have that training signed off as QTS/QTLS as an accreditation so long as they meet the core standards (which have just changed and are now woolier than an Arran jumper – another time eh?)

    I also agree in principle with the idea of a regular MOT for teachers.

    Right, going to copy this comment to my blog and call it a big post… 🙂

    • 28 mrweatherallscience

      Have just read my comment and think I’m better off not writing comments at 2 in the morning. It’s rambling, contains at least two spelling mistakes and has a missing apostrophe. Standards are slipping.


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