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 211.

    Are they going to be used by academies as cheap labour? No teaching qualifications needed, fine. They are the schools that were failing so are not worth investing anything in. The serfs should stay illiterate. That's the present policy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    The 3 dismissed teachers I mentioned were not simply moved to another school; they were banned from teaching in the authority again...and they'd need good references to teach in another authority...which would not be forthcoming. Of course, there's nothing to prevent them from getting a job in a private school.

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    This article was written eighteen months ago. I doubt if things have improved since:


    Intelligent and sensitive young men and women who are subjected to verbal and physical assault on a daily basis, should be spared any encouragement to enter this stressful profession, *as it currently stands*.

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    .... First educate teachers. How can we expect educators to monitor, correct, grade & report on our children's work and progress, if they are semi-literate & concerned only with self-image? Then stop treating children as adults - of course they're going to be disinterested in school & learning when most people are falling over themselves to allow them the freedom of adults from the age of 10.

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    204 please do NOT judge all our children by Waterloo Road's standards. Besides I don't believe Sri Lanka has 100 % perfect kids either.
    205 Why bother with capital of a Country that doesn't even exist anymore. Of course it did last time you were in a school.
    Stop judging all kids by the standards of Waterloo Road.Otherwise they'll judge the adults who should be setting examples.E.G Like M.P's

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    Actually, an academic education is a perfect foundation for a career in education. It is an inperfect fit with nearly every other career and profession, yet all kids get this same curriculum from the State. (Go private and it is tailored to your kid's strengths and your ambition for them).

    Didn't used to be like this before comprehensive education became the norm.

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    Gawd, this is a joke isn't it?
    Half of teenagers can't work the change out at the local Post Office.... since when "I dunno is the capital of Czechoslovakia", and when did 'with' became 'wiv'?

    Come on lets get our youngsters educated... we don't want lessons in booze, fags and partying.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    Sri Lanka has better schools that GB!
    They have kids who WANT to learn, and probably as Sri Lanka was once part of the British Empire, it is possible that the pride in achievement IT engendered rubbed off, so that the Sri Lankan State never learned how to develop poor schooling!

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    In theory it sounds good & I'm not necessarily against it per se but it also smacks of cheap labour too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    In the article above Brian Lightman (Assoc. of School & College Leaders) said that the only way: "..to have one of the best education services in the world .... will only be done by celebrating the successes of our education service and the quality of those who work in it."

    Don't you just love that word "celebrate"?

    OK let's all rejoice - wear funny hats & blow raspberries then all will be fine!

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    I was a manager from industry who in the 1970s was asked to speak to those students in their final year.
    They had the same unrealistic attitudes even then,so nothing has changed!

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    I don't understand why Teach First is so rated.

    The premise of the scheme is that after two years you go and become a banker/consultant/accountant/whatever.

    Surely we should focus our efforts on those that see teaching as a long term career?

    There are lots of things the government could do to make it a more appealing profession without touching salaries/pensions e.g. less interference.

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    193 Magorex
    191 TaxGuzzler

    The figures are correct. From 2001 to 2011, only 17 teachers were prevented from applying for another teaching job after being judged incompetent by the General Teaching Council.

    Maybe you're confused by the fact that most duff teachers are simply moved to another school.

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    191.TaxGuzzler - ".......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......"

    What law of averages? Where on earth did you come with that ratio? Where's the evidence that ratio applies to any profession, let alone all of them...???

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    151. greenactive
    But surely all of those issues are important,as they directly influence your abilities to manage the classroom and scaffold your teaching around learners' backgrounds and existing knowledge, so that they are more motivated to learn?Un tutors aren't there to spoon feed students but encourage you to see how learning and teaching theory (including inclusion!) relates to practice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    I am an unemployed teacher of computing/ICT, having been made 'redundant' by an institution that plain ran out of money 19 staff gone so far. Every job I go for has hordes of applicants. Trouble is, people are going for cheap NQTs with no world experience and those who've got a load of practical real world experience of using their subject as well as the skills to teach it are being ignored.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    I'd rather they encouraged people to enter teaching after having done something else in their lives. I've always found the best teachers are those who have some experience outside of the schoolroom. I've also always believed nobody should go to university without a gap year.

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    What is the point ? Many qualified teachers cannot get a permanent job and many have given up trying to get a teaching job.This government hasn't got a clue about the real world or they would not be trying to encourage people into teaching.Once the public spending cuts really bite things will be worse. Free schools will make things worse as staff do not even have to have teaching qualifications

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    @ TaxGuzzler
    Your premise is flawed and your figures are nonsense. I personally know of at least 3 dismissals locally in the last couple of years....and I'm not even in teaching any more.
    I'll admit, getting rid of the rotten apples isn't easy, but substandard teachers are no more prevalent than in most other professions. It's a government myth to deflect from their own woeful performance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    I'm all for it. But they've got to do the job in its entirety. They've got to have parents screaming in their faces, they've got to read all of the negative press every day, they should have to do all of the marking, preparation, parents' evenings, extra curricular for no overtime. The status of the profession would be raised overnight - and you'd never recruit another soul!


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