Hodder History Expert Blog

'Having a passion or knowledge of a subject doesn't mean you'll be good at teaching it.'
By Tony Fox
04 Nov
Much of the QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) ‘debate’ is a waste of time as far as I am concerned. Firstly, because Gove has stated what will happen, and no amount of debate will change his small mind. Secondly, this has become like the question of ‘how many angels may fit upon the point of a needle’. The debate will not lead to any positive outcome, as both sides are too entrenched and too defensive. It is not an open or relevant debate. I know there are numerous people without QTS teaching in schools, but they are the exception, not the rule, and those that I have known were rapidly placed on some sort of training.

As someone who left a highly paid position in the transport industry, took a PGCE course, spent a year running down my savings with no income or guarantee of a job at the end of it, you could say that I resent the fact that someone else could now walk into my current post without going through this. You may be right, but I have much bigger concerns.

My favourite joke at the moment goes ‘I used to think he was a half-wit, until I realized that zero is non-divisible’. The same concept applies to unqualified individuals seeking access to CPD (Continuing Professional Development). How can an individual with no qualifications develop them? You simply cannot multiply zero. Hence I would suggest that they will not be able to access professional development effectively. Again, I link this to my own experience: my CPCs (Certificate of Professional Competence) in National, and International Transport are still valid. In effect I can still gain an operator’s license; I can manage a transport firm. Having a CPC did not automatically make me a transport manager; it did not even gain me a raise in salary when I first passed the course. This was because it was not seen as a qualification in itself, it was a basis upon which to build my experience and skill. I had a starting point upon which to develop as a manager; a guide.

This is how many in the teaching profession should see QTS: it means one can put ‘teacher’ as your profession; it means you are committed to a career of professional development; it is a basis for unfolding your skill in teaching. The major concern I have is that those people who are seeking to remove QTS, do not hold this themselves, and I would suggest that most do not understand the significance of the qualification; that by taking this qualification the individual is committing themselves to standards of education that are universally accepted - child protection being just one of these. Which brings to mind a major concern, without QTS, what is the impact on an individual who does not meet child protection standards? Currently, in serious cases, they can have QTS removed, ensuring they cannot repeat the infringement. Without QTS this is not the case. The individual can simply walk away, and another school could employ them. I admit this is an extreme, Daily Mail reader’s, nightmare scenario, but it highlights just one aspect of this attack on the teaching profession.

At the beginning of his term as Education Secretary Mr Gove said new standards would ‘help raise the bar for teaching and improve pupil performance and behaviour.’ Three years later, it appears that he has changed his mind on this. It must be catching, as Mr Clegg appears unsure as to what he believes. He appeared to contradict the Lib-Dem Schools Minister Mr Laws. All of this is very worrying, as it prevents a clear and effective discussion on the role of QTS, and by implication the role of a teacher. If teachers are not expected to match standards of behaviour and conduct then why send them to school at all, you may as well send them to a childminder . . . . .  but then again, childminders need to match particular standards to be registered.

Teaching is a significant profession; it should be viewed as such by teachers, politicians, management, government, and most importantly by the ‘consumers’, the students and parents. It is therefore important to demonstrate professionalism, and this is best done by following and maintaining high standards, showing passion for education, and exhibiting a relevant and significant knowledge - something that can be done with high quality CPD. So rather than removing QTS, our leaders should be ensuring that all teachers have access to high quality CPD, to ensure the development of this significant profession.

PS And having got that off my chest I am going to devote my next blog(s) to something more down to earth about Key Stage 3 resources and schemes of work!
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