Teaching Test Hypocrisy

The government has ‘announced’ that prospective teachers will have to take more demanding tests before starting training. In fact training providers already know this and have been preparing for it for some time. So why is it being announced now? Maybe to disguise the fact that Gove has also announced that unqualified people may now teach in academies – as they can do in free schools.

It is of course obvious that teachers need to be highly trained. In high performing countries like Finland, teachers in secondary schools must have masters degrees and all teachers complete demanding courses which include a good amount of theory. They also train in universities or other higher education institutions.

In this country the government is determined to move training away from universities and by 2015 well over half of all training places will be delivered in schools who do not have the time, resources or skills to do this.

The new School Direct programme allows schools to train graduates in the subjects they need. They will also be able to choose which accredited provider – such as universities or Teaching School partnerships – they want to work with.In return for this additional control the schools will be expected to find a job for the trainee once they finish training. The Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) will be replaced from September 2013 with a new school-led training programme for career changers.

Universities will now have to compete as providers and there have been predictions that several hundred courses will end up being closed or merged. It already appears that many schools are not happy with having to take on training and chaos appears to be looming as details emerge of how all this will – or in fact won’t – work in practice.

The important point is that proper pedagogical training, incorporating a balance of theory and practice as well as the reflection which is necessary to become a successful practising teacher will be lost and can only result in a lowering of standards which new tests will not address.

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