Usual negativity around plans to have six month teacher training for mature professionals who want to teach. Union leaders throw hissy fits, what a surprise, and the teacher training establishment claim it’s not possible. But Brown was sticking to his guns on this one. He wants someflexibility and a change in the makeup of the teacher population.
Here’s 10 reasons why it’s not only possible, but desirable:
1. Teach First has being doing this for some time, placing teachers in schools after six weeks. They do this by being tough at the selection stage, something that many think is lacking in the normal route.
2. Select high calibre candidates, and the time can be halved. Many have proven, transferable skills and experience e.g. organisational management, HR, finance, projects and people management. Traditionally, few teachers have much of this.
3. Widens the profession to include more people with outside experience in a variety of jobs, something that must be good for the children.
4. All potential teachers have spent three, four or more years studying their subject and the higher qualified graduates have shunned teaching in the past, enticing them back sound like a good thing.
5. Quicker they get out of the lecture-heavy teacher training and into the classroom the better. Many of the skills can only be learnt by ‘doing’. Schools are the proper vehicle for this.
6. Current PGCE courses demand that you wait until September/October for a course start date. Even in the case of flexible courses such as the OU, you still have to wait months to start.
7. A year-long PGCE doesn’t make you a teacher. The idea that there’s some fixed period where you’re fed content, and out pops a teacher, is hopelessly outdated. Smart, experienced people with existing skills can certainly be fast-tracked.
8. I’d go further and argue for trainee teachers to go straight into schools and do far more distance learning and e-learning to support them in their probationary period. Don’t make this a fixed period; make it depend on reaching competency.
9. You can teach in a University without any teaching qualification.
10. We need good teachers – fast! The quicker we get people into the profession and classrooms the better.
Compare this with Obama's speech today. Obama’s gloves came off in an attack on declining standards in education in the US. Poor grades and poor teaching were identified. On teachers, he pitted himself against the school unions, demanding performance-related pay, linked to results, and less protection for poor teachers. "If a teacher is given a chance but still does not improve, there is no excuse for that person to continue teaching," he said. "I reject a system that rewards failure and protects a person from its consequences." Urging an end to "the soft bigotry of low expectations," Obama said states needed to stop "low-balling expectations" for students and urged longer school days and years.
He got booed on this when on the campaign trail, but he’s sticking it out.
Can you imagine Brown making such a speech? I think not.