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Where will a teaching fast-track take us?


A proposed scheme would slash teacher-training to just six-months. The fast-track scheme is aimed at attracting the jobless, white-collar talent that have become victims of the recession. But is this just a short-term fix that could ultimately undermine the teaching profession? Gemma Middleton argues that teaching is far more than just another job...

The government plans to cut the length of time it takes to become a teacher from a year to six months. The controversial move is aimed at attracting those who have found themselves casualties of the economic downturn - redundant workers and bright university graduates - to teaching.

The initiative is part of the ‘Working Together’ public service reform paper published by the government. To say that it has generated mixed reactions would be an understatement.

The main argument against the initiative is that teaching is largely seen as a vocation; ideally every teacher should be passionate about teaching, committed to it in the long-term, and not view it as a stop gap to get them through the downturn. This belief is supported by Chris Keates, general secretary of teacher’s union NASUWT who commented: "Children and young people deserve to be taught by those who are in it for the duration, not refugees from business biding their time until something better comes along."

Photo of Gemma Middleton"Teaching should be seen as a vocation, a long-term career; it is anything but a stop gap."

Yet the government’s argument for implementing this change is to give highly qualified and bright professionals the opportunity to enter a new career without facing the traditional amount of red tape, as well as reducing time and cost constraints. Schools minister Jim Knight commented: "There are thousands of highly talented individuals in this country who are considering their next move, who want to do something challenging, rewarding, that is highly respected and where good people have great prospects. My message to them is to see what they can offer teaching and what teaching can offer them."

Looking at the proposed reforms from the cheap seats, along with the majority of British society I can understand the reasoned arguments both for and against the reforms. When you look at the economic situation and the dearth of teachers in maths and science, it is obvious that some ex-City workers will have the raw skills needed to fill the gap.

However, on the other hand, I do believe teaching should be seen as a vocation, a long-term career; it is anything but a stop gap. Most people have a stories about their teachers at school - hopefully good ones. A teacher has the power to mould a child’s life, so words like passion and commitment should be mandatory in any teaching job description. The country doesn’t need sub-standard teaching. After all the skills gap is already massive, so employing teachers who are in it for the short-term will only make the situation worse.

This kind of move by the government is bound to generate debate. Will it be a success? It is down to the individuals that apply, as only they know the reasons behind their decision to move into teaching. Hopefully they will remember that teaching isn’t just a job, their actions will have a greater impact on future lives then many a City job.

Gemma Middleton is a marketing coordinator at Righttrack Consultancy


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