Monday, 16 February 2015

A local headteacher comments on Teacher training, Nuns, Tristram Hunt, & an obsession with conformity

I do not always agree with local Headteacher, Bernard Trafford, who writes regularly for the Journal. But on the issue of Labour's Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt's fixation - and proposed policy under a Labour government - that no teacher can teach without a specific teacher training qualification I do agree. The policy is that Labour in government would effectively ban all teachers who did not have a teacher training qualification; I, and others across the House of Commons, including Labour MPs, have been pointing out the illogicality and "one size fits all" approach of Hunt's position in the House of Commons for 2 years: not least as Hunt is a historian, who has successfully taught history himself.... despite being unqualified.

But the flaws in this policy has only really been exposed when Hunt chose last week on Question Time to launch an attack on a catholic columnist, Chritina Odone, because she was educated by Nuns. You can see the video here and judge for yourself:

The full article in the Journal this week is worth a read, as it fairly makes both sides of the argument in a balanced way:
The highlight is this passage:
"His [Hunt] obsession with teachers having to be qualified is boring, as well as dogmatic. By “qualified” he’s talking not about subject knowledge but about completing teacher-training. Take him as an example: he wouldn’t be deemed competent to teach, despite a history degree, unless he’s done teacher-training.

The vast majority of teachers are classroom-qualified, as well as in their subject specialism. They should be. If I appoint teachers to my (independent of government) school who don’t have a teaching certificate, I help them get one. It generally makes them better teachers and gives them a go-anywhere qualification. But sometimes, just sometimes, I interview amazing natural-born teachers who outshine even those who have been through the formal training programme.

Hunt wants to ensure that no one teaches children without that qualification. I find politicians like him insisting on everything being black and white just as bigoted and out-of-step as those private school heads who aver that teacher-training somehow prevents teachers from being inspired and original: that’s rubbish too.
Hunt’s insistence on conformity leaves heads and schools no flexibility (which we need when there’s a teacher-supply crisis), outlaws the unconventional genius and risks imposing a dull orthodoxy on all our schools. But then, I fear that’s what he wants."