Could Mr. Gove end up being our champion?

Below is an extract from a TES article submitted by Roger Pope who is principal of Kingsbridge Community College, Devon. See

After reading this I created this blog with my persoanl refelctions at the bottom. the main point i wanted to try and get across is “it is often not the course, but the individual behind the qualification that makes the teacher!!

I have been watching some cracking new staff teach. They bounce out of their training courses into the classroom, and before their NQT year is up they are teaching with a skill and finesse that even in my heyday I could only match in my dreams. Of course, the bright young things are brilliant with technology. They use it to give lessons pace and pizzazz; they personalise learning with umpteen online resources and tasks and they talk the kids’ lingo without making the mistake of trying to be their friend. Call me a cradle-snatcher, but I have made two of them heads of department before they have even finished their NQT year.

So why has our favourite secretary of state published a consultation on an improvement strategy for training teachers when universities are turning out gems like these?

Let me rephrase that. Michael Gove, the man who builds an academy in a day, whose idea of consultation is to invent the English Baccalaureate and then use it to measure us retrospectively before we even know it exists, is asking us what we think. He wants to discuss the strategy with us.

I have been lucky to find damn good NQTs, but nationally the picture is not so rosy. Ten per cent drop out during their PGCE and a further 10 per cent leave teaching within the first year. That’s an inefficient use of resources. Moreover, no one can disagree with the Government’s mantra that the most important way to raise standards is to raise the quality of teaching. There is no more sensible place to start than the recruitment and training of teachers.

The Government is building on what is already proven to work. Its favoured models seem to be the graduate teacher programmes, school-based schemes (SCITT) and Teach First. These all have in common a greater emphasis on school-based practice, with universities as partners rather than the leaders of the process.

Teaching is not either a craft or a profession: it is both. That is why we are excited by the possibility of becoming a teaching school, and clear that we need a university as our partner. So it’s “Huzzah!” for a minister who wants to raise the quality of our teachers and status of our profession. Thaw the pay freeze, protect our pensions, and we might even come to love him.

I found this to be very interesting reading. The school that I work at have people from all walks of ITT spectrum, I did a SCITT course whereas the other teacher in KS2 did a GTP, the Foundation NQT did a PGCE and the newly appoint NQT did a 4 year BEd. I cannot really tell which is better as we all passed are NQT years and the newly appoint NQT rose above the rest and one the best out of 50+ applications. At the beginning there may have been a difference because the NQT with the GTP seemed to cope better at the beginning, the PGCE NQT had a wider bank of resources to use and I had a wider range of experience (Foundation up to Year 6), but as the year went on and we got more confidence these differences disappeared.

I know there are many reason for and against these courses but as Mr. Pope states at the beginning of his article, it is often not the course, but the individual behind the qualification that makes the teacher!!

I just hope that Mr. Gove begins to realize this and that he tries to make a difference to the education system, but in a positive way.


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