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Teacher Upgrade

October 29, 2012

So anyway this is just a quick point, but I was listening to the radio the other day (luckily it was payday otherwise I would have resigned on the spot) and the esteemed BBC Radio 4 Today Programme was enjoying the prospect of teachers having to get the equivalent of GCSE English and Maths B grades by taking more sophisticated tests. Rather than a dignified conversation about raising or keeping standards high for teachers, the conversation was turned into a list of silly mistakes that teachers may have made on children’s homework, or (heaven forfend) on the board. The guests and John Humphrys giggled at mistakes like “carless” instead of “careless” and teachers who made mistakes on the board were mocked and condemned. This amid John Humphrys suggesting that it was time that regulations got “more tougher” and that obviously students didn’t have to spell well if they did Arts subjects because they wouldn’t have to write essays. Aside from the fact that English is an “Arts” subject, most people studying Art itself, or any practical subject have to write essays on their work and I am guessing those essays must be spelled correctly.

In addition, Christine Blower was given little opportunity to discuss the relative merits of further testing for teachers but was bamboozled on the subject of proof of poor standards, to the extent that I think I tweeted “JH shut up let the woman speak” amongst the points she was attempting to make was the fact that this policy conflicts not a little with the Gove’s new proposal to allow people to teach in schools who did not have any teaching qualification, but expertise in the subject or field that they work in, that for Gove is obviously better than a teacher with a degree in their subject and a year or more’s training in education. There is also the fact that if you don’t teach a subject why do you need above a C GCSE in it. I took the “Maths” test and I have a C at GCSE (hard won) I haven’t taught a minute of maths (or arithmetic) since I joined teaching. I have occasionally had to crunch numbers for exam percentages, but that I can manage on my C at GCSE, so quite why I should have to have any further qualification in arithmetic (and that is what we are really talking about) I don’t know. Every teacher has been through the school system, gained a degree and a PGCE or PGDE, or should have, that in, itself should reassure a few that they are equal to the demands of their profession and the wisdom not to teach the age group or the subject that is not their specialism.

Listening to that Today Programme piece one would have thought that the teaching profession was populated by a race of job blockers, lazy and incompetent, due to be disciplined and reproached, obviously not good for anything except mockery. Christine Blower attempted to defend the profession, but as ever, teacher representation tends to concede too much. A much embattled profession could do little more of the offence (not offensive) and less polite concessions, which is, in fact an unrepresentative compromise. Teachers comply with initiatives, accept regulations and inspections, they improve, retrain and innovate and never in their entire career do they get a cheap holiday – and yet, according to government and media they are the lowest of the low. The fact that over 60% of our young people volunteer, in some way, for social and community projects, the fact that more young people than ever willingly continue in education and pay for the privilege, that even despite what may be grade inflation – thousands of young people are better qualified, better educated and better balanced than they would otherwise be, is all ignored because some teachers rush their marking, slip up on the board and don’t correct spelling mistakes

But is that really true?

Earlier this week the organisation Turnitin sent out an email, it listed the most common comments on students’ work apparently teachers do comment on punctuation and spelling … a lot – see for yourself.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2012 8:46 pm

    Count to 10. Do it again. It gets me through! In the end we, as professionals still have our dignity. That cannot be taken…we can, however, give it up.

    • October 29, 2012 9:12 pm

      Agreed although I did rather like a leaving speech given in this week’s Thick of It I’ve put it on hold!

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