Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Licenced to Teach: Which Qualifications?

Originally uploaded by AhavatHaEmet

There is currently a lot of debate about the amount of qualifications needed to be a good teacher-or should I say a “credible” one. Whether we are talking about qualifications on entry or whether a teaching MOT is a good idea, the consensus is that teachers

must have a secure knowledge of what they teach and be provided with regular opportunities to upgrade their knowledge. However, it is well known that you can be very knowledgeable and still unable to teach effectively and, conversely, that a good teacher with maybe less depth of knowledge will be able to take his/ her students a lot further.

A secondary school curriculum and staffing survey published by the NFER in 2007 showed how 23% of French teachers in England did not have a post -A level qualification in it. If you think it does not sound too good, this is better than German (28%) and a lot better than Spanish (40%), which shows how some teachers qualified to teach other subjects are asked to teach Spanish-although they will often be languages teachers qualified to teach other languages such as French. To put it into context, the figures were 25% and 21% respectively for Maths and English.

The University of Buckingham's Good Teacher Training Guide 2009 found a link between low entry qualifications and failure to find a teaching job.
However, what the research does not show is the percentage of teachers who have experiences demonstrating that their depth of knowledge is more developed than a teacher with just an A Level. In languages, it could be somebody who has lived and worked in the target language country for an extended period of time, it could be somebody who has had to build onto their GCSE skills in order to use the language while working in industry, it could be a dual heritage person who decided to use their languages only at a later stage of their studies... The possibilities are endless.

So what kind of teacher would you rather have? One with the current mix of skills, levelled out by the ability to meet Q standards? Or should the teachers without post A Levels qualifications be denied access? Is this sustainable, particularly for shortage subjects?

I know what kind of teacher I would rather have: a lifelong learner with a passion for their subject-that’s the easy bit- as well as someone who knows how to make each student feel special ...


Daniel said...

Great post - although I believe lots of qualifications and MAs for all teachers are nice ideas it's really not for everyone and doesn't guarantee anything. I think at the end of the day it's down to Teacher Training Institutions to select the right people and pass the right people and is down to schools to select the right staff - I guess for some great or potentially great teachers lack of qualifications may stop them from getting the chance at interview.

IC Jones said...

Dear Daniel
Thanks for your comment. Maybe the Teacher Training institutions should have an agreed list of attributes to look for in a candidate as well as minimum formal qualifcations...