How Qualified are our Teachers?

A question that is never really asked, or even brought to public attention, is how many members of teaching staff in both primary and secondary schools have actually achieved any more than the bare minimum requirements of when they sat their GCSEs? What do we really know of the teachers that are influencing the minds of future generations, and how is this affecting the students themselves?

 

The Maths GCSE qualification is considered a key and important achievement. Yet despite its importance being well known, how many Maths teachers in schools actually have a Maths degree? The number of qualified Maths teachers and tutors is an ongoing problem, as those with a Maths degree find they have many more opportunities in sectors other than teaching. This tends to mean that Maths teachers are specialists in another subject but apply themselves to teach Maths when there is a need. The few teachers that there are with a Maths degree are attracted to secondary schools and teach what are deemed the top and most promising sets. In affect they don’t teach the students that need the most help in achieving a good grade.

 

The Education Secretary Michael Gove has previously stated that schools are able to employ staff that they themselves believe are properly qualified to teach, even if they have not achieved their Qualified Teaching Status. There is of course a fear that this will hinder the quality and value of teaching reputation, not to mention the affect that this is having on the students themselves. It seems quite shocking that we don’t know the qualifications of the teachers that are influencing the minds of influential young people.

 

What is really interesting is that in England the council holds information regarding the qualifications of the teachers they hire in both primary and secondary schools. Yet in Wales there is no requirement by law to hold any information at all on the achievements and qualifications of its teaching staff. Though it should be noted that all teachers do need to have QTS. (Qualified Teaching Status) Students are being taught by people that may have struggled themselves to merely achieve the minimum qualification when they were finishing school. What does this really say about the standards of education?

 

Gove backs these changes as he claims that this gives schools “additional flexibility” and he tried to placate concerns with his claim that the majority of teachers recruited would still be QTS trained though in cases of severe shortages in suitable staff, “the new flexibilities would come in extremely useful.” Understandably parents are concerned these new measures are going to be damaging to their children’s education and fear it will follow on to negatively impact the opportunities and choices available for them in the future. Should we really be thinking about what the policy of the hiring of teachers actually is, and does this need to be addressed? How can we expect students to learn and achieve good results when their teachers couldn’t even achieve higher than average results when they themselves sat the exam?

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