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 231.

    I read most of the comments and have to admit that it is a sad day when many of us feel that youngsters should not enter the teaching profession for fear that they will receive abuse from students and their parents.

    It's ridiculous! We need good teachers. What we don't need are the negative factors that dissuade them to teach. Those need to be addressed and immediately.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    225.TheBladesman"when numeracy and literacy start to improve the teaching profession will get the respect it deserves".
    Teachers can only do so much, especially when (as per my earlier post) the agendas of various alarmist pressure groups now seem to take priority over basic education. Moreover, good teachers and parents are constantly undermined by commercialisation and a minority of feral kids.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    Many top graduates chose another profession, not because of the behaviour in schools but because of the downright clueless policies that come out of Whitehall (are you listening Gove?).

    When was the Secretary of State for Education's post last filled by a teacher? Can't remember? Neither can I.

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    Not sure why David got "-" votes.
    Of course there are plenty of serious pupils who have learned well at school but, you'd have to be naive or stupid to imagine that there is not a large percentage that fall into the group he painted. Obsession with cribs, bling, iPods, rap, puerile reality shows and the notion that they're all going to successful celebs leaves us in a poor state. Sad!

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    I want to be a teacher. Sometimes I doubt myself and wonder why, but it's the state of the schools and the pupil's themselves these days that make me want to teach even more, to know for myself that I have helped someone learn something useful for their future life experiences. I'm in 6th form and determined, and it would just make me happy to know I taught someone where on earth milk comes from!

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    Personally I feel teachers should live their lives, choose their vocations and spend sometime doing that before teaching.

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.


    Perhaps when numeracy and literacy in the UK start to improve then the teaching profession will get the respect it deserves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    I was given exactly this opportunity. From KS4 onwards I taught additional mathematics and literacy support to KS3 pupils before moving on to teach French at KS2 during KS5 - some of my worksheets made it onto the Scheme of Work for the local area. However much I want to be a teacher, I want to do something else first though; to enhance my own life before telling others how to do theirs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    I trained for four years to become a teacher...I absolutely love my job! I would love to inspire others to follow in my footsteps. But until the government and a lot of others in society begin to show good teachers the respect that they deserve my message to anyone planning a career in teaching would be.. don't bother!

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    My son is about to leave Uni with a 2.1 in Maths He has his interview for a PGCE course next week. I do hope he doesn't stumble on here and read the comments as this is the biggest advert against going into teaching I have seen for a long time.

    As for teaching experience - my son struggled to get a school to let him go in and shadow some maths lessons. Schools should be encouraging them!

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    My biggest concern is the hijacking of the school system by pressure groups to 'solve' any given social issue (AKA moral panic). I fundamentally disagree with teachers spending hours lecturing kids on the perils of so-called 'obesity' or consumpion of what Saint Jamie considers the 'wrong' foods anyway, but to prioritise it when basic numeracy and literacy standards are so low infuriates me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    214. Perpetual Sigh
    University education in Finland is free. No student needs to worry about racking up thousands in debt, and there are very few graduates out of work. Employment is not guaranteed, of course, but the chance of unqualified work is minimal. Asinine? I think not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    I think this is a great idea!
    In sixth form college I was given the opportunity to go into a local school and help tutor year 9 students before their English exams.
    This is where I decided I wanted to become a teacher and I'm now studying at university.
    Experience is the best way to learn.

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    163. Scotmarkm
    ...get them into the real world and out of academic education for at least a year to taste the real world.
    Consider the number of teachers in the profession at any given time. Consider the fact that over the years, they draw 'customers' from just about the entire population. How much more real can you get? Agreed, though, outside experience can be valuable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    It may work in posh schools but in comprehensives it is a recipe for disaster..

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    Many comments heartening, recognising teaching is no bed of roses - but there are lots of good things too if you're cut out for it.

    TaxGuzzler, agreed, they don't sack enough poor teachers.

    Free schools will try to teach on the cheap & they will fail due to this. Pay peanuts = get monkeys. Govt trying to destroy national pay scales will do the same, they'll get less teachers & lower quality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    One of our drama teachers is so bad I'm practically teaching our class (because I did the course last year) and another classmate is teaching the year below. That's one way of putting faith into the school system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    Comment number 212. Raymond Hopkins
    17 Minutes ago
    "asinine "50% of youths should enter university" idea.
    Asinine? Educating people is asinine? Nobody in Finland thinks it is asinine to send considerably more than 50% to university."

    And are these kids expected to pay several grand to spend three extra years in a course that's not guaranteed in any way to land them employment? Asinine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    198 Little_Old_Me
    191 TaxGuzzler

    I'll be brief:

    Take KS2 SATs results as your base. Retest in subsequent years. Derive the Added Value score per teacher. You will usually see about 4% of teachers score less than half the average. Colleagues probably already know these teachers to be passengers, and (trust me) dread inheriting their students in the next academic year.

    I hope this helps.

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    asinine "50% of youths should enter university" idea.

    Asinine? Educating people is asinine? Nobody in Finland thinks it is asinine to send considerably more than 50% to university.


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