Teaching would get boost if sixth-formers could try it, says MPs

Secondary classroom The government needs to increase the number of more effective teachers, say MPs

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Sixth-formers should be given a chance to try out teaching, to encourage the brightest into the profession after they finish university, say MPs.

More should be done to attract, train and retain top teachers, the Commons Education Select Committee says.

It says offering a taste of life at the other end of the classroom could help teenagers see the benefits of the job.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the government valued teachers highly, but many top graduates chose other careers.

The report, entitled Great Teachers, draws on international evidence which shows how the best teaching can accelerate learning, boost grades and even improve pupils' future earnings.

'Fantastic and Inspiring'

Committee chairman Graham Stuart said: "There is a huge difference in how much children learn depending on who is taking their class.

"It is crucial that we have an educational system which celebrates great teachers, keeps more of them in the classroom, supports their development and gives them greater status and reward."

The report calls on the government to champion the "fantastic and inspiring work" done by existing teachers - but also to do more to recruit the best graduates into the profession.

The MPs' recommendations include allowing young people to try out teaching at an early age, something they say that would give students a better idea of the benefits and drawbacks of teaching as a career, improve the quality of applicants and lead to a lower drop-out rate.

The MPs also say all applicants for teacher-training should be observed taking a class before being offered a place.

The MPs welcomed ministers' plans for tougher literacy and numeracy tests for teacher training candidates but said this should not be at the expense of good personal skills.

Teacher Training

  • Salaries for newly qualified teachers start between £21,000 and £27,000
  • Every 7.5 minutes someone applies for postgraduate teacher training
  • Anyone wanting to teach in England and Wales must complete initial teacher training (ITT)
  • There are many different types of ITT courses, specific to age groups
  • Prospective secondary-level teachers choose a specific subject for their ITT
  • 30% more people are training to teach physics than in 2010

Source: Department for Education

The committee recommends the recruitment programme followed by the successful Teach First scheme, which recruits high-flying graduates to the profession.

Teach First insists on top degrees for its recruits, but candidates also undergo a day-long programme of aptitude tests, including role play, teamwork and a teaching practice session.

The committee says it is vital that universities continue to play a major role in training teachers.

"The evidence has left us in little doubt that partnership between schools and universities is likely to provide the highest quality initial teacher education."

'Outstanding training'

The MPs also recommend that the government overcome political and practical difficulties to develop a pay system that rewards teachers who add the greatest value to pupil performance.

"We are concerned that the pay system continues to reward low -performers at the same levels as their more successful peers ...

"The comparative impact of an outstanding teacher is so great that we believe such difficulties must be overcome."

The report also recommends better continuing professional development for teachers and a college of teaching along the lines of a professional institute.

Mr Gibb said the government would consider the recommendations in full and was already considering introducing more freedom and flexibility in teachers pay including linking it to better performance.

"As all the evidence from around the world shows, nothing is more important for raising standards in our schools than ensuring that we have more great teachers.

"This report supports the government's strategy for teacher recruitment as being appropriately focused on attracting top graduates into the profession and giving them outstanding training."

The teaching unions broadly welcomed the recommendations, particularly those on better continuing professional development.

But Christine Blower, of the National Union of Teachers, said: "Payment by results is total nonsense. Children are not tins of beans and schools are not factory production lines. Successful schools rely on a collegiate approach and team working.

"Performance-related pay is not only inappropriate but also divisive."

Brian Lightman, of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "The aspiration to have one of the best education services in the world will only be achieved by raising the status of teachers to a level which attracts the very best people, and this will only be done by celebrating the successes of our education service and the quality of those who work in it."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    A quicker way to raise average teaching standards may be to dispense with the services of substandard teachers.

    With 430,000 teachers in state schools the laws of statistics suggest somewhere around 15,000 will be bad enough to be doing real damage to their students' life chances.

    But since 2001 fewer than 20 have been dismissed. Poor teaching standards are, in reality, institutionalised.

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    "It is crucial that we have an educational system which celebrates great teachers, keeps more of them in the classroom, supports their development and gives them greater status and reward."

    However, then they treble the cost of going to University and reduce the pensions of teachers once they have qualified. What sort of incentive is that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    You can't attract top graduates into teaching. That's because they're top graduates...they're clever...they know stuff. They certainly know a pile of political Bovine Scatology when they see it.
    You can't con them into teaching; they need enticing...and that would require a massive improvement in status, working conditions, respect and pay...more than our spineless politicians would countenance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    28. No its not just you
    "All teachers start out as fantasitc, commited people, but are gradually worn down by idiotic ideas by Gove"

    Gove isn't brilliant, but I can assure you that our teaching and education problems outdate this government by decades. Labour have to take a large amount of the blame by advocating the targets system and the asinine "50% of youths should enter university" idea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    Forcing students to try teaching is more likely to put them off than inspire! I now work in education but not as a teacher, i couldn't do it, youngsters nowadays have little respect for learning and without proper authority in your own classroom what is the point! I respect anyone who can teach but personally i wouldn't want their jobs!

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    Until pupils once more begin to respect their elders, understand education is a privelege and come to school to better themselves then who in their right mind would want to teach

    Lets start addressing the real problems and putting practical solutions in place instead of skirting around the fact that our left wing friends have given too many rights to children and left our teachers unprotected

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    Some friends of mine did teacher training as an "extra string to the bow", as a backup incase their actual plans failed. However, if I ever end up in a position where I have to train to be a teacher in the UK I would probably rather jump of a tall building somewhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    "Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the government valued teachers highly"

    And what did he say when he uncrossed his fingers & dislodged his tongue from his cheek?

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    There's a lot of difference between work experience and teaching. Work experience doesn't include lesson preparation, communication with parents, development of curriculum or monitoring of attainment to mention just a few of the elements of teaching.

    It's time the MPs stopped undervaluing teachers skills and enabled them to get on with their work unhindered by constant bad press.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    In order to teach you need to love your subject. In order to love your subject you need to know it. How does a sixth former or undergraduate have the experience to know enough to love the subject and be able to enthuse to other about it? Innovate, Inform, Inspire.

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    Of course education is a political football (along with every other state sector) and it will continue to be as long as the public hold MP's responsible for it. Would teachers prefer it if they were the ones hauled infront of the worlds media and given the weekly ear bashing? C'mon, you can't expect MP's to give you a free for all, but still have everyone hold them to account for your actions!

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    Just because you're academically bright it doesn't naturally follow that you will be a good teacher. I know someone who's got a first class degree from one of the top universities in the UK and he's the most boring person I know and his people skills are limited to say the least. Having said that he reminds me of someone who tried to teach me physics and failed miserably.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    I taught p/t for over 10 years. The age of the student gradually dropped over this time from a mature & manageable 25 to an immature 16. After years of dealing with students with a sense of entitlement and 'anger issues' (a get out for bad behaviour) and battling idiot managers who were more interested in targets, I left. Good luck in your endeavour. Because you're gonna need it...

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    More idiot suggestions from totally out-of-touch politicians. My wife (a Head of English) already does this with 6th Formers. If anything, it turns them off teaching, once they realise the difficulties.

    If you seriously want to get high flyers into teaching, then make it an attractive proposition for them. Cut out the constant denigration, micromanagement and impossible/contradictory targets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    Evidence from the National Training Institute in 1999 shows that you remember 90% of what you teach, and only 5% of listening to a 'lecture' (not that all teaching is of this sort!). Surely, then, teaching is better also for revision?

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    Perhaps Gove and MPs might come up with a better initiative to support classes with disruptive children. The army would not like to revert to compulsary national service without being able to fine recruits, give extra PT or using a glass house, a lot of shouting and discharging them. Now they only take volunteers FE colleges etc have students who choose to be there. SO they get better results.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    Schemes like this are already in place. In my own school, Nottingham High School, the Modern Languages Department runs the Language Ambassadors Scheme for Year 11 and 6th Form students.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    "I agree with most of you point however some students could only ever be sent to the local 'pound shop' school."

    You're still stuck in the mindset that somebody else should educate your child and that the quality of that education is uniquely linked to the money you pay for it. That type of thinking is flawed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    "You would see just such an improvement if you instead closed all the local state-run schools, "

    I agree with most of you point however some students could only ever be sent to the local 'pound shop' school. In an ideal world all children should have access to good education regardless of how much money their parents earn or inherited.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    "Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the government valued teachers highly"

    How do they value teacher's highly? Education is a political football, permanently being slagged off & blamed by politicians trying to further their careers.

    Teaching's OK in a good school. OFSTED a perpetual, pointless irritant, all it does is generate worthless paperwork & meetings. Judge schools by their statistics.


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