If your toilet broke, would you want a qualified plumber to fix it? #teaching #qualifications #gove
How much does a bit of paper matter?
In Scotland, all teachers in all schools have to be qualified and registered with the General Teaching Council of Scotland.
In England, apparently, the equivalent of this is not the case.
I find myself stuck with my jaw in “dropped” mode thinking “that would ‘so’ not happen here”, while also allowing myself to consider whether maybe it would be better if there were unqualified teachers teaching in schools.
It is so weird watching the debates on shows like “Breakfast” with people saying, “So, if you say teachers need to be qualified, do you mean to say that you would prevent all of these people from working? You’d put them out of a job?” The answer given, repeatedly ignored by the questioner, is that they would like all people working as teachers to be actively pursuing a teaching qualification for them to retain their post. This strikes me as fair enough.
But really – the idea that there are total randomers being paid professional salaries to deliver state funded education is worrying.
But are they total randomers?
Some of these people are talented, committed, experienced and successful as teachers. They just don’t have a bit of paper. Some of these people, especially in “free schools” come from wider walks of life and have different career/professional backgrounds and can perhaps offer today’s young people more relevant content presented in more outside-the-box ways.
Is demanding a qualification just a way to squish people into a government friendly box?
Well, if the government is paying for it, why shouldn’t it be a government-friendly box?
I have learned a lot from fellow-blogger Katharine, over at “Home’s Cool”. She is, as the title suggests a passionate home-schooler, with decades of successful teaching (not in school, obviously). The freedom within a home-school context to have relevant, individualized teaching is limitless. I imagine, if I were to home school (this is unlikely to ever happen – Scotland is, at present, an educational Utopia), I would invite a great many of my non-teacher friends to teach my kids. Who better to teach them snippets of accountancy, vegetable growing, smelting, entrepreneurship, photography…?
By having non-teachers teaching, the content, style and delivery would be infinitely richer.
But still, I’d rather have the bit of paper.
Not that having a qualification makes someone a great teacher! No doubt there are teachers with qualifications coming out of their ears that cannot teach. *desperately says nothing about the concept/reality of “Chartered Teacher”* Everyone who has attended school can remember the bad teachers: the ones who didn’t actually like children; the ones who missed out huge sections of the course figuring that the tutors would mop it up in the end; the ones who shrieked like banshees, escalating every non-event into a lion-taming spectacle; the ones who blamed the children for their lack of control aka preparation… We all remember them.
But still, with a qualification, you have at least a standard. There is a baseline; there is a measure by which you can be hired and fired. There is as near as we can get to a guarantee that the person is aware of the duties and responsibilities and professional standards that any parent should expect when they hand their child over to the state for their education.
I am lost for an analogy but here goes: if you have a couple co-habiting who say that it is just as good as being married – why not get married and have the certificate – if it is just the same? If you are a brilliant teacher – why not get the certificate that ‘proves’ it? But why should we have to? This is when the analogy breaks down for the co-habiting couple, but for the teacher – they should have to because they are funded by the state.
So, here are my conclusions on the English education situation: teachers should be qualified and should have a certificate and a membership of a professional body so that they can be struck off, should the need arise, as in other professions. People who are currently unqualified and are working as teachers should have the opportunity to get their skills and experience accredited so that they are not lost to the profession but gained by it. There could be short conversion courses for people coming in from business/industry etc and again, accreditation given for past experience. There could be other roles created that are not “teachers”. Perhaps free schools and academies could have mentors involved in the school’s life that need not be classed as teachers and therefore more free to break away from the National Curriculum.
In so many ways this is not my problem. The Scottish state education system surely has faults, but the question never arises, “Should we have qualified teachers or unqualified ones?”. It sounds daft. Of course they should be qualified. Do you want to go to an unqualified doctor? Do you want an unqualified lawyer defending you? Do you want an unqualified plumber to fix your toilet? …
Again, you may answer – I’d rather have a plumber who could actually fix toilets than one who was just qualified to fix toilets.
Tell you what: let’s have BOTH.
- I’d rather an brilliant, unqualified teacher than a fully certified nonentity who teaches without passion (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)