Mathematical Mondays #4 – Who Will Teach Our Children Maths?

This post is prompted by this article from The Telegraph

The article discusses the government’s plans to respond to the shortage of mathematics and physics teachers with teachers recruited from abroad. I think that this is such a sad indictment of our educational system, what is so unattractive about teaching in England that we don’t want to do it? Currently I am a full-time mum, but I hope to return to teaching later, for the first time I have begun to believe that when I do return to teaching it will be to the private sector, more about that in another post.

From the figures I can find on the internet there are over 20 000 unqualified teachers teaching in state schools in this country. This article from The Guardian  discusses when the then Education Secretary Michael Gove introduced that Academies could hire unqualified teachers. Apparently schools were then going to be full of highly skilled scientists, engineers, musicians and linguists. I’m not saying this didn’t happen, but in my experience and the experience of everyone I know in teaching, unqualified teachers tend to be teaching assistants who have been press-ganged into teaching a couple of lessons a week. They tend to have a tricky time as the students often don’t respect them or see them as “real” teachers, they struggle with the subject content and with delivering it effectively.

But only 20 000 teachers are unqualified, chances are my child is being taught by a highly qualified teacher, with great subject knowledge and a passion for learning, right? Maybe, maybe not. A friend who works for a large Academy chain told me of a great wheeze that they were using to fill teaching gaps. They had found a college that offered degrees, where the only entrance requirement was one GCSE, yes you read that correctly one GCSE. In case you don’t believe me here are  the course requirements.  After they had completed this degree course they had found another institution that would come in and assess the candidate for Qualified Teacher Status. So one GCSE, sometime at nightschool in a technical college and then you become a qualified teacher. I don’t want to sound like an intellectual snob, but excellent teachers, the kind I want my daughter to be taught by, understand their subjects inside out, they understand how children develop and learn, they reflect on their practice and they collaborate with others and this quick route in doesn’t seem the best foundation to me.

Looking on the Times Educational Supplement’s Job Section today, there are 408 adverts for Maths teachers in English secondary schools, how many of them will be filled by teachers who we would want to teach our children?

Emma xxx

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