The Importance of Teaching – this is the name the Government chose for the White Paper underpinning the Education Bill.
Teaching is a popular profession for many graduates. The number of graduates completing PGCE’s has steadily risen over the last few years. It is a role that people find exciting, challenging and extremely stimulating. It is a profession where we are able to move people forward in their aspirations and assist their learning. Education does sometimes get too much bad press and the papers gloss over the successes and achievements that teaching has bought to so many thousands of pupils and students.
Unfortunately, I was sad to read that the number of teacher training places at universities and colleges is to be cut by one fifth. The Coalition wants more teachers to learn their skills on the job in schools rather than in training colleges. Now I agree that we should have more on the job training – it’s where I learnt my skills and it was where I did most of my learning– but fewer teachers and training opportunities? Universities and teaching colleges offer fantastic teaching expertise and facilities that should be further funded.
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, is also taking an axe to the bursary packages currently enjoyed by trainees. I received £6,000 for a year of training for my PGCE. Without this funding I would have been unable to have trained as a teacher. Being a student is expensive and even more so today. Travel, accommodation and food is not cheap. Funding has gone for subjects such as English, history, geography and art.
Instead, those who want to train as physics, chemistry, engineering and maths teachers will receive bursaries of £9,000 a year. Trainees who want to be biology, general science or foreign language teachers will receive £6,000 a year. This maybe in response to subject demand but I am sure we will need teachers in english, history, geography and art in the future and these cuts maybe putting off hundreds of potential brilliant teachers.
Michael Gove has also outlined plans to only accept trainee teachers with 2.2 degree or above. Yes, we do need qualified teachers with good knowledge but isn’t the ability to teach and inspire important too? There are thousands of teachers who are fantastic at their job, inspiring and motivating everyday but may not necessary have a 2.2 or above. I think Michael Gove has got his agenda wrong on this point. What degree you hold should not define or hold you back from teaching.
I do agree that we need competent, dedicated and enthusiastic teachers in our schools. But, we must work together and I just wished the Government had involved more teachers in their decisions.
As Batman once said, ‘it isn’t what you say that defines you but what you do’ (Batman Begins, 2005).