Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Stuffing Schools With Mickey Mouse Teachers

A half-baked plan to cut teacher training time in half is set to confine the profession to the dustbin and children to the scrap heap as the government outlines plans for a raft of Mickey Mouse gimmicks already branded as back-of-a-fag-packet stuff. 

People could qualify as a teacher in England in six months rather than the usual year, under plans unveiled by ministers today, all part of a raft of  public service reforms designed to spin Brown away from the heat of the economy. 

And in an ominous footnote which smacks of jobs for the government's Common Purpose toadies, school minister, Jim Knight, reckons two hundred people seen as future head teachers will be able to move into school leadership within four years.

And its more for jobs for the boys and girls, with cabinet office minister, Liam Byrne, having the bare-faced cheek to tell the BBC: "We know there are a lot of fantastic mathematicians, for example, who would have once perhaps gone into the City but now actually might be more interested in a career in teaching." 

That's already drawn fire from the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Dr Mary Bousted:  "It sounds like an employment scheme for unemployed bankers, but this may not be the best way to go about it.

The plans, which would only apply to England, would get short-shrift in a more rigorous Scottish education system.  

Teaching unions are up in arms as they see through the gimmicks, raising serious doubts about the need for the scheme in the first place or its practicability, as the plan is destined to confine teaching to the dustbin of a Cinderella profession. 

Once again ministers have been caught out flannelling and floundering away with useless gimmicks which no one is prepared to take lying down. 

Voicing those concerns Dr Bousted added: "I'm becoming very worried about the plethora of different gimmicks and initiatives the government is coming out with - this looks very much like back-of-the-fag-packet stuff."

Teaching and teacher training has had a long fight to drag it up from being downgraded to a second class profession of the Thatcher era.

But the standard of graduate teacher training has already been dumbed down, with a so-called graduate profession letting in any Tom, Dick and Harriet with a meaningless Mickey Mouse degree. 

Teaching is tough. It's both challenging and exhausting, particularly if you've got to square up to a classroom of monsters or demanding high-flyers every hour of the day. 

Sure teaching is all about finding the brightest and best when a child's future is at stake. Pupils deserve the best but it's not everyone's cup of tea and should not be a soft option for a bunch of resentful no-hopers when there's nothing else around to take their fancy.  

That can only be achieved by tightening up entry requirements, not dumbing them down and placing trainee teachers in schools for a good long period to see if they're really up to the job  and to weed out the crap. 

It's not as if there's a shortage of people thinking about teaching as the recession depression really starts to bite. That should be a golden opportunity to tighten up on standards not dumb them down. 

Only with proper incentives of pay and conditions and help with the mountain of administration and a rigourous weeding out of incompetents can the profession hope to give pupils what they deserve. 

George Bernard Shaw once said: "Those who can do, those who cannot teach".  

Now with these ill-thought out Mickey Mouse gimmicks, it seem those who can't teach can easily find a cushy way into the classroom.

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