September 17 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
I agree with Michael Gove.
There, I’ve said it. And I will now have to have a long lie down to recover. I might also have to change my identity to cover up my shame.
The only thing that might contribute towards my rehabilitation from this revelation is that I only agree with him on one issue - the appointment of unqualified people as teachers.
In case you missed it (as was the Whitehall plan, judging by the timing of the announcement on Olympics opening ceremony day), academy schools can now hire unqualified people to teach their students.
With ministers pretty much forcing schools to become academies, that means the move will affect most, if not all, schools in future years.
Before I go on, I must make it clear to my bosses that this is not a resignation letter. I am very happy as a journalist.
However, for some years I have felt the frustration of the current system, which insists on a degree and a year of teacher training.
I have neither. And I have no prospect of being able to find the money or the time to rectify that.
But I do have something that no qualification can guarantee - passion.
I am passionate about literature, passionate about the English language, passionate about the power of learning and passionate about passing all of that on to young people.
The teachers who made a lasting - positive - impression on me all had that quality.
So why should the path to sharing that passion and inspiring youngsters be blocked by a system that promotes the virtues of academic qualifications and allows little room for external inspiration?
As the move to allowing unqualified teachers takes shape, there must be checks and balances.
Recruits must be trained, observed, monitored and employed at first on probation. After all, nobody wants to see entirely unsuitable people teaching our children (as if that would ever happen).
But that is the devil in the detail. The big picture is that a door has been opened to allow more flexibility to schools to seek out and employ the very best people to inspire their students.
And I believe that there are countless thousands of suitable candidates out there:
● People who have run their owns businesses, who would be able to teach business studies
● Retired sporting stars who could inspire future sporting stars
● Actors who would bring some “lights, camera, action” to drama lessons
● Technicians and web designers ready to bring immediacy and inspiration to IT lessons.
For two reasons, teachers stick in our minds as we grow up: either because they were utterly inept or entirely inspiring.
We must all remember particular teachers who made us want to turn up to lessons and want to learn.
People like Mr Mackay, the supply teacher who covered English lessons for a month and inspired me to become a journalist. Or Mr Dearson, the maths teacher who perceptively prised out pupils’ potential.
I didn’t think “wow, how qualified they are”. Instead, I remember thinking “what an inspiration”.
I suspect they would have been equally inspiring without their pieces of paper. That’s because they were answering a calling, not simply pursuing career opportunities.