Academies and free schools can employ teachers without Qualified Teacher Status. That is a view promoted by Secretary of State, Michael Gove, who thinks teaching is merely a "craft" that can be picked up on the job .
Gove says he wants to learn from high-performing countries and cites Finland where teachers are recruited from the top-performing graduates. But he overlooks that they also have to be trained up to degree level in teaching methods as well as in their subjects.
reported that, "The headmaster of a leading independent school, Brighton College, has supported the changes. In a statement released through the Department for Education, Richard Cairns said: 'I strongly believe that teachers are born not made and I will actively seek out teachers from all walks of life who have the potential to inspire children.'
'At Brighton College, we have 39 teachers without formal teaching qualifications, including me,' he said. Some had come straight from top universities, others from careers including law, finance and science, he added. 'Once 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.”
Although Cairns takes the trouble to ensure that his unqualified staff receives what he considers to be sufficient training from his qualified staff, his words will be taken as “proof” by less scrupulous heads and governing bodies that a professional teaching qualification is unnecessary. This would allow them to recruit amateurs more cheaply and place them in front of a class with minimal training.
Parents have a right to know that those who teach their children are suitably qualified. Few parents would willingly allow their children to be treated by an unqualified doctor; few pet owners would seek out unqualified help for a sick dog and only foolish people would allow themselves to be represented in Court by unqualified Counsel.
Teaching without the necessary qualifications should be as condemned as passing oneself off as a doctor without having been to medical school. The idea that teachers are "born not made" is disingenuous – even the naturally gifted need some theory to underpin their practice. It’s like saying that anyone who’s handy with a butcher's knife can make a good surgeon - all that's required is enthusiasm, knowledge of human biology and a few months of observing Sir Lancelot Spratt.
The latest tweets from the Department for Education say “Government remains committed to QTS as benchmark for quality: new freedom recognises Academy heads best placed to make appointment decisions.”
If it’s a benchmark for quality – then it should be a requirement that all teachers have that quality mark. And allowing academy heads to ignore the quality mark should not be described as "freedom".