Sign petition making it a legal requirement for teachers to be properly qualified - keep untrained amateurs out of the classroom

Janet Downs's picture
 15
Michael Gove, despite saying he’s anxious that teachers should be highly-qualified, allows academies to hire unqualified amateurs to teach in English schools. But the public doesn’t agree – 89% in a ComRes poll (April 2011) said they wanted children taught by a university graduate who is also a qualified teacher.

A Government E-petition has been launched which states:

“That the government makes it a legal requirement that any person supervising, covering and teaching classes in England must hold QTS.”

Petitioners only have until 25 August to sign – so don’t delay.

 
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Comments

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Thu, 02/08/2012 - 12:50

A good headteacher's view:


Well, as someone who has been head of a school for over 15 years, I can comfortably say I am not remotely troubled by employing someone who doesn’t have a teaching qualification. I was equally happy to have untrained teachers educating my own children. I see no problem whatsoever with the government allowing academies to employ teachers who lack a formal teaching qualification.

At Wellington College, which has just received an ‘outstanding’ rating for all aspects of its teaching and learning, I pay absolutely no heed to whether someone has a teaching qualification or not. What I do look at is whether someone has the human qualities to make a great teacher. They need energy, passion for their subjects and for teaching, a readiness to learn, an altruistic nature, integrity and intelligence. Some eccentricity definitely helps, though is not a necessity....

.....Dispensing with the need for a one year post-graduate training qualification is also encouraging new entrants to join the profession, who have undertaken other careers, and who can bring to students and schools a vast range of experience and enrichment. I am positively biased in favour of such ‘teach second’ candidates, and one of their great qualities is their humility and willingness to learn.


http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2012/08/training-does-not-make-...

Try asking this question in a market research survey:

What would you rather have: a crap teacher with QTS or a good teacher without QTS?

Sarah's picture
Thu, 02/08/2012 - 13:05

Posing the question in this way implies that these are the only two choices available. Thankfully they aren't. I believe that most parents would rather have a good teacher with a professional qualification demonstrating that they have been trained how to teach - rather than either of your choices. There is nothing to stop schools bringing in other experienced adults to support aspects of the curriculum and this is what many good schools already do.

I'd be interested in your view Ricky as to why, if this is such a fantastic idea which will improve standards, it isn't being made available to maintained schools since this is where all the criticism about standards seems to be levelled.

Leonard James's picture
Wed, 08/08/2012 - 12:44

Ricky,

The testimony of but one 'good' head is merely anecdotal evidence. Do you have something more substantial to support your argument?

Secondly your question for the market research is a loaded question which adds little to the debate.

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 02/08/2012 - 15:32

sarah - I think it risible that anyone thinks that a degree, "enthusiasm" and passion is all that's needed in order to teach. Gove says he admires Finland and uses this country as an example to justify his requirement that teachers have good degrees. But he forgets is that Finnish teachers have two qualifications - one in subject knowledge and one in teaching methods.

And when heads of highly-selective schools think that methods which appear to work with highly intelligent children can be applied to state schools that have to educate children of all ability and from all backgrounds, then I feel that those heads should exercise a little humility.

Much teacher training is now done in school - the important thing is that they are trained. Even the head of Wellington admits that.

89% of respondents to the ComRes poll want children taught by graduates with a teaching qualification. The choice isn't between a poor teacher with QTS and a good teacher without. It's having a good, properly-trained teacher for every child.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 03/08/2012 - 07:21

sarah - I forgot to add that years ago when few people went to university teachers often had no degrees but were awarded CertEd ie Certification of Education. The best teacher I had was Mrs Dearns, a CertEd who taught Maths - no degree, but she was brilliant. But that's anecdotal and it should not be taken as evidence that today's teachers don't need degrees. Now that so many go to university a degree should be expected. However, a degree alone doesn't guarantee that the holder will be a good teacher. Neither does QTS. What is needed is degree + QTS (as in Finland) + experience (which can only be gained on-the-job) + continued professional development (used to be called in-service training, Inset, in my day).

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Thu, 02/08/2012 - 18:21

Janet

I wonder how many parents are aware that their children are being taught by 'qualified teachers' who have no degree qualification in the subject they are teaching? As a parent, I'd prefer my kids to be taught Maths by someone with a maths degree even if she was 'unqualified' than to be taught maths by someone with an English degree or a geography degree.

On another blog an unqualified teacher has spelled out his situation. Here's an edited version:

As a UQT who has been continuously employed in state schools and, latterly, an academy for a few years now, this latest announcement is somewhat confusing.
Certainly, since my entry in 2009, it has always been possible, and legal, for the state sector across the board to employ UQTs.

A thin veneer of palatability was served up to placate whoever was concerned, claiming that such appointments were to be on short-term contracts and only until such time as a qualified alternative could be found. So, what has changed? Is it now the case that UQT appointments can be made on a permanent basis as opposed to a temporary one?

....
I teach maths. I have a maths degree. I have just under a dozen colleagues in my department. One has a relevant degree. The rest trained in, variously, humanities, English and the primary sector. While the corridors occasionally echo with mutterings about rumours the UQT is getting paid on the main scale, these same colleagues are the ones who regularly come to ask what completing the square “does”, how the quadratic formula was derived, how conditional probability works, and even how to work with fractional powers.

...My school has a, roughly, 40% pass rate for GCSE maths.
My classes have always topped 90% ...Last year, 65 of my 67 passed. This year, I’m hopeful that 71 of my 72 will pass.

..I can teach. Ofsted (for what it’s worth) agrees – 2 x grade 1s so far (and a bit of intra-departmental jealousy). The training manager at school thinks I’m far too didactic. She despairs at the chalk and talk, and left-field examples from which to bring topics and concepts together. Yet, the students, collectively, prefer this approach.
“I get it this way, sir. You’re strict but you also make us laugh.”
Isn’t that what it’s about – engaging students and being able to answer any questions they have and be in a position to develop them to their fullest extent?
Is QTS strictly necessary for this?

The backers of QTS often say it develops pedagogy, teaches you how to teach, helps you to plan, etc. So, in my humble opinion, does a touch of common sense and a wish, or want, to help better lives.


.... whose name is on the A level and further A level classes? Ah, the UQT: because the others (with the exception of one) lack the knowledge.
QTS can be a smokescreen; looks good for parents but, let’s be realistic, doesn’t equip someone with a non-relevant degree to teach maths. It doesn’t appear to do much for behaviour management either – some of the weakest classroom practitioners at my place have QTS....
by Matt July 29, 2012 at 12:45 pm



http://teachingbattleground.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/dumbing-down-the-to...

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Thu, 02/08/2012 - 13:54

I’d be interested in your view Ricky as to why, if this is such a fantastic idea which will improve standards, it isn’t being made available to maintained schools

I imagine because no one wants to provoke another burst of one day strikes.

I believe that most parents would rather have a good teacher with a professional qualification demonstrating that they have been trained how to teach

Parents are well used to having their children taught by trainees and NQTs. I can't see it would be a problem if a teacher arrived with many years teaching experience at an independent school. On another thread mention was made of Brighton College - a successful independent school with, I think, 49 teachers without QTS, including the head himself. It's ridiculous that experienced teachers like that can't get a job in an academy or maintained school.

I was taught French and German by a really inspiring teacher who was a 'teach second' person who'd already had a long career in MI6 and never went near a teacher training college.

Given that Mandarin is such a popular subject, why shouldn't ex-diplomats teach it? As the Civil Service shrinks, there will be loads of another sort of mandarin coming free, with firsts in Greats, who could reduce the acute shortage of Latin teachers.

Let them learn on the job. Why should the only new entrants to teaching be twenty-somethings with little experience of life?

Leonard James's picture
Wed, 08/08/2012 - 13:01

"I imagine because no one wants to provoke another burst of one day strikes."

That would imply that the unions have some sort of power over the government - they have thus far opposed everything and prevented nothing so I don't really understand your reasoning here.

"Parents are well used to having their children taught by trainees and NQTs"

Trainees and NQTs are supposedly well looked after by experienced staff and until now they would be working to meet the standards required for QTS. One would think parents would be less happy if either of these things were not the case.

"I can’t see it would be a problem if a teacher arrived with many years teaching experience at an independent school. On another thread mention was made of Brighton College – a successful independent school with, I think, 49 teachers without QTS, including the head himself. It’s ridiculous that experienced teachers like that can’t get a job in an academy or maintained school."

Ah special pleading and a slippery slope. We shouldn't assume that a) a large number of teachers will want to make the jump from private schools to academies because of these changes and b) it is only said teachers who will be benefiting from these changes. Besides if they are that amazing they would have no problem meeting the QTS standards in their first year in state sector teaching.

"I was taught French and German by a really inspiring teacher who was a ‘teach second’ person who’d already had a long career in MI6 and never went near a teacher training college."

Anecdotal evidence.

"Given that Mandarin is such a popular subject, why shouldn’t ex-diplomats teach it? As the Civil Service shrinks, there will be loads of another sort of mandarin coming free, with firsts in Greats, who could reduce the acute shortage of Latin teachers.
Let them learn on the job. Why should the only new entrants to teaching be twenty-somethings with little experience of life?"

Strawman. No one is saying ex diplomats or university of life types shouldn't come into teaching and they already could 'learn on the job' through a GTP programme which used to lead to QTS.

Andy's picture
Wed, 08/08/2012 - 16:43

Leonard, student teachers are always supervised on their first and shorter placement in a school (e.g. observing, team teaching and solo with QTS in the room) on the second and longer placement towards the end of their time that can go solo with a QTS close at hand should they be needed to step in. For NQTs dependent on how they shape up will receive support in the early months e.g. first half term, which then reduces to enable them to pass their probationary year: but much of their time will be solo.

As commented on my post below 6 Aug 12 at 8.18 p.m., technically there is no need for special pleading as even maintained schools can employ unqualified teachers and pay the UQT scale for a 12 month period (but which was/is rarely monitored and applied).

One must also take into account the multiplicity of methods open the headteachers in how they deploy their non-teaching classroom support staff who have a variety of titles from the traditional TA and HLTA to Cover Supervisors and Departmental/subject Assistants who can be used to deliver lessons solo (supposedly prepared by QTS staff). Again the situation here is murky in that the general rule for Cover Supervisors is that they should only be used for up to 3 straight lessons with the same class thereafter if the requirement persists it should be Supply Teacher. But the TA/HLTA situation is more open fluid in that their contract should state the max number of lessons they can cover per annum.

It can be seen then that, and dependent on ones personal viewpoint, a clever/unscrupulous headteacher in the maintained sector can drive a coach and horses through the graduate/QTS professional model that state schools have been working toward for many years now. That said, if a headteacher were turn this into a full blown planned strategy quite how this would play out in terms of results is another issue.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 03/08/2012 - 07:34

It's quite funny how some people think that an anecdote which says something like "some of the weakest teachers had QTS" is "proof" that QTS is unnecessary. If only SOME of the weakest were qualified teachers, then what were the rest? Graduates with no QTS? School meal supervisers doing a bit of Food Technology? Executive principals?

If so, is that "proof" that having a degree is unnecessary, being able to provide school meals in unnecessary, and executive principals are unnecessary? No, that isn't "proof" (although there might be some truth in the statement that executive principals are unnecessary).

Ted Wragg* once wrote: "Question: How will you recognise superheads who are running several schools?
Answer: You won't, because you'll never see them."

*"Education, Education, Education". - an anthology of Wragg's articles.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Sun, 05/08/2012 - 10:37

One part of the DfE press release that is conspicuous by its absence from the various gobbets quoted on LSN is this bit from the contribution by the head of Brighton College:

Once {unqualified} teachers are in the school, they have a reduced teaching timetable to allow them to spend time observing other good teachers and are actively mentored. By the end of the year, they are, in our view, better trained than any PGCE student.

So what's the big difference between that and PGT?

Another bit of the DfE press release that has been suppressed by selective quotation:

The funding agreements for all new academies – which are essentially contracts between the Secretary of State and the organisation which establishes and runs the school (‘the academy trust’) – will now state that academies can employ teaching staff who they believe to be suitably qualified - without the automatic requirement for them to have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

The 'who they believe to be suitably qualified' (should be 'whom', but there we go....) surely means all this alarmism and scaremongering about rank amateurs is unnecessary.

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 06/08/2012 - 13:32

The part of the DfE press release supposedly "conspicuous by its absence from the various gobbets" is in the lead article to this thread (fourth paragraph).

http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2012/07/is-qualified-teaching-stat...

"Who (or whom) they [the Academy Trust] believe to be suitably qualified." Ay, there's the rub.

Andy's picture
Mon, 06/08/2012 - 20:18

This is a circular debate that has become polemically polarised into a 'for' and 'against' the motion theatre that almost borders on pantomine. Underlying this are some hard (and for some cruel) facts:

1. Neither QTS nor degree qualifications are or have been mandatory in the fee-paying sector
2. For as long as I can remember the maintained sector has had the ability to employ non-degree and non-QTS qualified staff as teachers. The two caveats were that (a) remuneration was on the UQT scale and (b) the posts were temporary and limited to 12 months. The latter was all too often flouted by headteachers and skipped over by LEAs and since its inception by Ofsted
3. Running parallel with this for at least 20 years has been the push by the teaching associations (unions to you and me) first for (a) a graduate profession supported by teaching qualification and (b) over the last 10 years + a drive for teaching to become a masters based profession
4. Both Labour and the Conservatives have supported the academies in the ability to employ non-degree/non-QTS staff as teachers. The key difference is that they both removed and consolidated the lifting of the 12-month temporary appointment barrier, which the conservstives have simply copied across to converters and free schools.
5. The nature and character of the student at fee-paying schools is radically different to that of the state student, which impacts massively on the whole debate

It follows then that to a large extent the debate is a non-event/non-debate.

The question as to whether QTS maketh the teacher is never ending - I don't doubt we could all quote strong examples for and against.

On the basis that it is abundantly clear that fee-paying school students are wholly different in their attitude, behaviour and critically focused parental support for the teacher/school makes them completely different learners and classgroups compared to their state school counterparts, I do not accept that the wider (albeit still minority) usage of unqualifed non-graduates in the fee-paying sector is readily transerrable to or desirous in the state sector. Yes, fee-paying parents want value for their money - usually expressed through results - and will support schools in delivering this, but, yes, they also place greater expectations of the schools to consistently deliver to high standards and will pressure headteachers in their pursuit of the best results for their children. One simply cannot say the same for the state sector. Yes, there are very many parents who obviously want the best for their children but it simply isn't the same. Wwith 93% of the nations children in many '000s of state schools and a dictat for inclusivity too many children are simply lost in the middle ground of the quiet majority. The pressures on state teachers for their time and ill-conceived central targets linked to high value testing simply don't create the infrastructure for excellence that is readily available to teachers in the fee-paying sector.

For me the point is that whereas there will always be exceptions to the rule the generally accepted scenario is that in most but by no means all KS3 and 4 subjects it is not strictly necessary to hold a specific to subject degree qualification. This is reversed however for KS5. Moving to QTS, I believe that the content and rigour needs to change to enure that it becomes both professionally worthwhile and crucially a filter to weed out dead wood. Having said that, I also think the majority of teachers (including senior leaders) would accept and agree that the lion's share of hgihkly effective teachers a re grown and shaped through on the job experience. Thus even a revamped QTS has its clear limitations.

What I am implaccably against the manner in which this government is using the situation drive forward on its unspoken agenda: wrenching professional status away from teaching, which ignores the ample evidence from the top performing countries e.g. Finland, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong that require graduates and the equivalent of QTS; forcing local/regional pay into teaching; and privatising education by the backdoor

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 09/08/2012 - 08:24

The DfE has defined "teacher" and "qualified teacher" in its April 2012 statistical report about the school workforce in England. I have put this information in FAQs above under the heading, "Teachers".

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 12/08/2012 - 16:48

I think it is okay to put unqualified teachers into schools where it can be ensured that children turn up to lessons in a fit mental state to learn well and the school as sufficient spare staff capacity to support that new teacher in all the issues they will face.

Heaven only knows why this government thinks most state schools are like that. I suspect it's because of this deeply ignorant 'every school can and should be like Mossbourne' nonsense they are peddling.

Clearly anyone who thinks this policy is a good idea has never spoken with anyone who actually works in teacher training and has no idea what actually happens during it.

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