Well, it has been a blast. 20 years as an educator.
i’ve upset plenty of people and challenged a some. I have no regrets, There are teachers and children who will do things differently because of the challenges I threw at them. I threw some rocks into the pond and I have no idea where the ripples will stop. I do know that my life has been touched by some incredible people along the way, I know that those who understood my passion for radical change in education and embraced the challenges I threw at them have grown into incredible people who love me and I love them.
I wrote two annual summaries of the media coverage of the teaching profession and received significant abuse for my view that the teaching profession was its own worst enemy in 2012 and 2013. This was echoed by Alastair Campbell last month who said much the same. I guess I was ahead of my time :-).
So, i leave you with my final thoughts, inspired by a conversation about teacher recruitment with John Dexter, a secondary school headteacher from Robin Hood country. It is serendipitous how two brains can create an unique idea that to my knowledge has never been articulated before. I would not have had this thought without his input.
Teacher Recruitment should be a thing of the past. Schools have the opportunity to select their teachers.
All Schools in the UK have the ability to pre-select their teachers and grow their own talent. It is staring each and every Teaching School Alliance in the face, it requires courage, lateral thought and some back pedalling to achieve. The huge irony is that it is only possible because of the policies and vision of the much vilified Michael Gove.
Here are the facts of the current English education system that can be embraced or bemoaned. Nonetheless, they are facts:
- Academy status affords schools the luxury of employing unqualified teachers.
- Teaching School Alliances and Academy status allows schools to be agile and creative without being shackled by local authority process and expectations.
- Teach First allows schools to recruit outstanding graduates and train them on the job.
- QTS does not bestow outstanding qualities on a teacher, it indicates that someone can do the job.
Here are things that I know that you will have to trust me on:
- There are four key routes into teaching, GTP, BEd and PGCE and School Direct.
- The best teachers should choose PGCE or School Direct, because they see a wider view of the world by reading for a subject specific degree. GTP and BEd do develop outstanding teachers BUT they also develop preservationists.
- Never employ a teacher who was a TA and studied and education degree. They are, in general only every interested in preserving the status quo. (there are exceptions, but not many)
- Each of these routes delivers both inspiring teachers and morons into the profession.
- All of them have QTS
- QTS does not make an inspiring teacher, it is the minimum standard that describes a functional drone.
- Inspiring teachers are inspiring despite their training, not because of it.
- Inspiring teachers can achieve QTS whilst teaching and making a difference to children at any level.
- All the brilliant B Ed students I have worked with should have studied a subject and become an expert, rather than studying education. Regardless of this fact, I love them and am proud of them all.
- Nearly every educator defends their chosen route to qualification because they mostly lack the wit to recognise that they are defending their own sense of self, rather than evaluating the best qualification.
What follows is my blueprint for teacher recruitment for every Teaching School Alliance across the country:
- Every Primary and Secondary School should be able to predict with reasonable accuracy the likely retirement and promotion prospects of all staff.
- This prediction should lead to an understanding of the recruitment needs of schools over the next three to five years.
- Schools can therefore predict with reasonable confidence the ratio of experienced to newly qualified teachers they will need to recruit in the next three to five years to keep a balance of innovation and quality on their team./
- A TSA should be able to calculate a rough number of NQTs required in year 4 of the succession plan to meet need.
Future recruitment of Teachers:
- This year, each Secondary School is educating the future teachers for year four of the succession plan.
- This year, each TSA could cherry pick their 6th form talent and part-sponsor them through a degree, with the quid pro quo that they achieve a 2:1 in their degree and work in the school for 3 years post graduation and in all holidays during their degree.
- Each school could have 6th form students bidding to be sponsored through their degree and electing to study shortage subjects at degree level.
- TeachFirst is the best route. Great teachers only need a crash course, everything else is fettling and icing on the cake.
What makes a talented teacher?
- They win hearts and minds. They are leaders.
- They know stuff
- They can work on the hoof
- They can administrate and value it as a quality
- They walk into a room and it lights up.
- They have a sense of social justice and service.
- They self teach
- They solve problems rather than moan about them.
Wake up people.
These qualities are evident at sixth form and you could secure their services well in advance and grow them to be inspiring teachers who do it the right way for their own community.
There is no reason why you can’t do it. Gove took them all away.
In 50 years Gove will be held up as the man who saved English education from itself. He was the educational equivalent of the Messiah.
So long and thanks for all the fish.