Headteachers give their views on unqualified teacher debate.
12:46 01 August 2012
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The government has decided to relax the rules to allow academies to employ unqualified teachers. Norfolk and Suffolk’s headteachers’ give their views.
Brian Conway, headteacher at Notre Dame High School in Norwich which took on academy status earlier this year, said: “I think it would be highly unlikely that we would consider using staff without QTS to teach at Notre Dame. It is a mark of quality if you have got someone who has been through the full teacher training process and you can guarantee that they are actually trained properly and they know the philosophy of education.”
David Brunton, principal at City Academy Norwich in Earlham, said: “I believe at the moment that young teachers with PGCE are better prepared than ever to join the teaching profession. However, there are some naturally gifted communicators who do not have QTS. Therefore, if we had worked with such a person in advance of a formal contract being offered, we would consider employing them.
“Teaching is not just about being knowledgeable in a subject, it is about being able to connect with others to share that knowledge. These attributes can be both learned and innate.”
Rachel de Souza, principal at Ormiston Victory Academy in Costessey, Norwich, said many schools already had instructors who would go on to gain QTS on the job and did not believe the announcement represented a big change. She said: “It would work at Victory because we are so committed to the professional development of the teachers we have got. We have got a year-long professional training programme for every single member of staff. Teachers, in the main, keep on learning for the first five years of their teaching – they are like sponges. Schools do not get the finished article when they start.”
Jeremy Rowe, headteacher at Sir John Leman High School in Beccles, described the idea as “unbelievable”. He said: “On-the-job training has been a really good development but the idea that you can come in and teach on day one without any background or any training is appalling to me. It lets down the students we are teaching.
“I’m assuming teaching is no longer a profession, according to this government. Do you still need maths and English? If people want to become teachers – and they should because it’s a brilliant profession – then train on the job or go out and do a course. The idea that you can bypass that is extraordinary.”
Rob Anthony, associate headteacher at the Hewett School in Norwich, which is considering becoming an academy, said schools already welcomed unqualified people into the classroom – instructors or high-level teaching assistants who can go on to gain teaching qualifications – but stressed they should not be treated the same as teachers.
“This sounds like these people will come into the profession and will be considered to be teachers.
“At the moment we are a graduate profession. We have to get further qualifications to become teachers. I think that’s an important part of what a teacher is – you know they have gone through a process. I’m worried that this is the government trying to get people in on the cheap.”
Michael Rose, headteacher at Wayland Academy in Watton, said: “Our problem has been, for some years, recruitment within maths, design technology and IT. If we were able to train up skilled individuals to the right level, that would be something potentially positive. But it would need to be the right person. I would consider it, certainly, in areas of shortage.
“Young people should be entitled to the highest quality of learning in the classroom and we would want to be sure of their ability to teach. It would bring in different skills but it would have to be filtered in a way that enabled us to be sure we had the right people in the right place.”
Tim Roderick, headteacher at Sheringham High School which became an academy in November 2011, said: “I have no intention of recruiting unqualified teachers. Teaching is a highly skilled profession. It’s not just about subject knowledge but about enthusing all students to do well in a particular subject and to do so in a stimulating and well-ordered environment. Just as I wouldn’t want to be operated on by an unqualified doctor, I’m sure parents do not want their children taught by unqualified teachers.”
Gerard Batty, headteacher at Hellesdon High School, a converter academy in Norwich, said: “I would always consider qualified teachers first but if there was no viable option I would then look elsewhere. As ever the aim is to put the best in front of the students.”
Ian Clayton, headteacher at Thorpe St Andrew High School, said: “We are heavily involved in teacher training and, over time, you see those people grow. But you can’t just walk in to a class and have an understanding of student needs.
“What Michael Gove should be doing, in my view, isn’t about dragging people off the streets and putting them in the classroom. He should want to make people come into the profession – stop attacking it and putting it down.”