Education Secretary, Michael Gove has announced that academies will now be able to employ professionals or specialists in fields such as engineering, linguistics and music as teachers, even if they do not have formal 'Qualified Teaching Status'.
The Department for Education said that the development would bring academy schools in line with independent schools and free schools, "who can already hire brilliant people who have not got QTS," and that it expected that the "vast majority of teachers will continue to have QTS."
But NASUWT, the largest teachers' union, said that:
“Such a move will reduce the status of teachers in England in the eyes of their colleagues and employers elsewhere in the UK.
“Qualified teacher status represents the means by which parents and the public can be assured that children are receiving a guaranteed standard of teaching and learning. It is the entitlement of all children and young people to be taught by a qualified teacher.”
In YouGov’s Politics Lab, we invited our panellists to tell us which side of the debate they’re on.
Q: To what extent do you support or oppose academies being able to employ as teachers individuals who are experts in their fields, but who haven't got 'Qualified Teacher Status'?
The largest proportion of those who took part in the Labs discussion did in fact support academies being able to hire unqualified ‘experts’ as teachers, for the following range of reasons:
- Those of you who were in this camp argued that if someone is passionate about their particular subject and has a wealth of experience working in that field, they may very well be better at teaching it than a professional teacher who has ‘Qualified Teacher Status’.
- You told us that outside experts could bring ‘real world experience’ into the classroom, and teach pupils valuable lessons about what it takes to succeed.
- A number of participants in this crowd questioned the quality of many current teachers, saying that the simple fact of having Qualified Teacher Status didn’t guarantee that the teacher in question was necessarily up to the task of bringing a subject to life in the classroom.
A slightly smaller proportion disagreed with Mr Gove’s stance, and were against academies being able to hire individuals who did not have ‘Qualified Teacher Status’.
- Participants in this group argued that teaching is a skill, and therefore it is right that a professional qualification is required to ensure a base level of quality for all those entering the profession.
- Some of you also raised concerns that removing the QTS requirement could lead, in some cases, to school governors hiring inappropriate individuals, and to an overall decline in teaching standards.
- Others felt the move undermined the legitimacy of the professions? Seems to be a further point made. Scrap if you really don’t think so though
Click on the headings below to read comments from panellists taking part in Labs:
“Given the standards of some teachers, I can't see that it's going to make things worse. It could actually make pupils more interested if the person is really enthusiastic and can get the pupils to engage with the subject” Ian H, Warlingham
“Brian Cox isn’t a teacher but I bet he’d do a good job. People who are passionate about their subject can make it more interesting. Some teachers are awful, just as some unqualified people are good” Anon
“Are all those who have learnt and experienced the 'University Of Life' not to be allowed to pass on their extremely valuable personal first-hand accomplishments? After all, these people may have been leaders in their field and trained (taught) others in business without having to have QTS!” Alex, Wokingham
“This enables people who have different, often more practical, qualifications in their subject to teach. I think it's more important that teachers know their field extremely well than being able to teach extremely well. It's also more practical, because it means people can teach extra-curricular activities who are simply experts in their field rather than actual teachers” Rachel F, Manchester
“The standard of qualified teachers does not inspire confidence, but bringing in experts in their field may just give an insight to students as to what is needed to be a success” Alex B, Keighley
“It brings more expert knowledge into academies and has been proven to work in the independent schools. The unions’ objections are only done to keep out of schools individuals who are clearly better qualified than their members, rather than to protect standards which are not in danger from these individuals” A Williams, Teesside
“Some subjects need people who are experts at a specific subject – just because they don't have the piece of paper saying they can teach, doesn't mean they can’t. In the same way many people who have the piece of paper are either useless at teaching or not very good at their subject or both (far too often)” Emily S, Portsmouth
“I think ultimate responsibility for employing teachers and staff in a school should rest with the head teacher and governors. They know their students, other staff, anything lacking in the present teaching or curriculum, they are the people best placed to judge. In other professions, individuals can be employed to fulfil a role or job, with appropriate experience or skills, with or without formal qualifications” Anon
“There is more to being a teacher than just being able to hector on about something. This will just further dilute the standard of teaching in this country; Gove is probably hoping this will allow his creationist friends into schools by the backdoor. By all means have experts as guest speakers, but under the supervision of real teachers” Dee D, Yorkshire
“It’s ridiculous. Teaching is a specialist profession and a vocation. I am sick of teachers not getting the respect they deserve. This is another attempt at diluting the profession” Anon
“There needs to be a method to protect our children from the temptation of heads to bring in substandard stooges who's competence has not been measured in some verifiable way” Anon
“If society values its education system it must be prepared to pay for highly skilled and qualified people to teach its citizens. Brilliant people may have vast areas of knowledge but unless they are trained there are very few who can put that knowledge across to the students concerned. Throughout my 45 years in education teaching ages from 3 to 60 in nurseries to degree courses I have found very few people who are good teachers who do not have a teaching qualification” Mike, Grimsby
“If they want to teach, they should spend at least a year leaning to do so (GTP or PGCE). Teaching is a craft, it requires training, observing professionals, critical performance and thoughtfully refined practice” RJD, Birmingham
“This will lead to an ability to hire and fire staff without QTS, to cut corners, and cut costs whilst at the same time driving down the education system through poor delivery in the classroom” Anon
“I think that teaching jobs should only be open to people who have studied and trained to be teachers. I think it is ok to have experts from different fields come into schools as guests and give talks about what they do, but I think lessons should be taken on a regular basis by people who are qualified to do so” Fay R, Norwich
“I was a teacher for over thirty years, and I know that teaching is a skill completely different from subject knowledge. During my own school days, in a very respectable grammar school, I saw a vastly knowledgeable gentleman, who was inexperienced as a teacher, virtually driven to breakdown by the pupils. Modern classrooms are much more difficult” Darowyn, Staffs