Primary Teachers to 'teach' after only 6 weeks

Hundreds of primary teachers with only six weeks’ training will be injected into deprived areas from September following the expansion of the “mission-based” Teach First programme, it has been announced.

The Government hopes extending the scheme for high-performing graduates with at least 2:1 degrees into the primary sector – following its speedy growth at secondary level – will solve staff shortages and raise the status of teachers of younger pupils.

Primary heads and deputy heads, with academics from London University’s Institute of Education, have designed the course.

Currently 780 trainees are on the Teach First secondary programme, which started with just 180 students a year in London in 2003.

A pilot scheme to train Teach First participants for primary schools has been running in London and the South East for the past three years and a total of 50 people – all foreign language graduates – took part. The Government and the scheme’s backers say this will rise to 700 a year in an unspecified timeframe.

MPs called for the expansion of Teach First into primary schools in 2008 in order to get more maths and science specialists teaching younger children. But graduates in these subjects will mostly be put on the secondary Teach First programmes to fill shortages in Northern schools.
NUT general secretary Christine Blower said the course would “not suffice in the primary school environment”.

Sharon Hughes, Director of Learning at Tutor4GCSE, community based tutors in Cheshire, commented “It amazes me that after just 6 weeks teacher training these graduates could be in a live classroom environment delivering the major building blocks of Maths and English. In some cases these graduates will have no more than a GCSE grade C, in those essential subjects, themselves. Confident learning comes when teachers can develop understanding, it is not enough to simply follow a method. I see the move to develop this scheme into the Primary environment as a major step backwards in the efforts to improve Numeracy and Literacy skills of our young people”