Can 'teach first' really be doing this?

(312 Posts)
Cathpot Sun 16-Jun-13 21:21:38

In our department at the moment is a very pleasant 21 year old who is on the teach first programme and doing some sort of research project for a week or so. She has a good degree and has signed up to the teach first programme to get into teaching. This summer she will get 6 weeks of training in how to teach, using I think at some point some summer school kids, then in September will be dropped into a difficult school (no choice of where to go) on a 2 year contract.

She is enthusiatic and bright and seems very keen and when I was talking to her I had to kept reminding myself not to look too shocked. She is going to stand up and teach her first proper class to her first proper group of probably very tricky teenagers on her first day in the job. This seems insane to me- how can this be working? How is this ok for her or the kids in her class? I am all for cutting down the college aspect of teacher training and getting students out into schools to work out how to do the job but it seem self evident that the PGCE year is essential to producing teachers who won't get eaten alive in tricky class rooms. She told me some schools have as many as 5 teachers from teach first at any one time and that if they dont stay on at the end of 2 years they just replace them with a new one. I can't really get past how insane this seems as an idea.

mummytime Sun 16-Jun-13 21:27:08

It has been going on for years. A friends DD is doing it, and seems to be enjoying it. However I'm not sure how it really works, or how good he teaching is at first.

AViewFromTheFridge Sun 16-Jun-13 21:31:07

One of my friends did it 6/7 years ago and is now a very successful HOD. I think it's aimed at top graduates only and combines some business/ management training, too.

The scheme started in America and aims to narrow the gap - making sure deprived schools get really good teachers/ graduates.

MaureenMLove Sun 16-Jun-13 21:35:17

We've had several Teach First teachers over the last 5 years and every one of them have been very, very good.

They have so much training and mentoring over the course of their Teach First year too. They have 5 full 'subject days' and a two week placement at another school, plus several visits throughout the year from their external mentors, not to mention regular meetings with their internal mentors.

Everyone one of our Teach First teachers have stayed with us for their NQT year and are amongst the best of the teaching staff. It's not an easy school either.

I think Teach First is great.

Cathpot Sun 16-Jun-13 21:36:48

She also said she wanted to be a geography teacher but they wanted her to be an English teacher as she had an English A level. She said no to that so they have compromised on her being a science teacher. I think I was just staring gormlessly at her by this point.

Arisbottle Sun 16-Jun-13 21:38:31

I was a teach first teacher, I guess it depends on where you are placed. I felt my training was very good.

Cathpot Sun 16-Jun-13 21:40:22

Well at least that's positive Maureen, I like her and it just sounded like she was going to be thrown in to sink or swim. Also I think I am feeling over sensitive about our profession and how under valued it is at the moment.

Cathpot Sun 16-Jun-13 21:44:00

Arisbottle- can I ask if you are still in teaching? Did you get any hands on teaching before you started work?

Arisbottle Sun 16-Jun-13 21:47:24

Yes, am still a teacher.

My friend's son is doing this. He is oxford educated, in a difficult school, and is a bloody natural. Any parent of a child in a difficult school should be thankful for the day he turned up to teach.

Arisbottle Sun 16-Jun-13 21:52:15

I am not sure that any child should be grateful that I turned up, smacks of the poor kids doffing their caps. However I think I do a good job.

I said thankful. Not grateful.

Arisbottle Sun 16-Jun-13 21:58:59

I also don't expect thanks to be honest, just doing my job. Lots of other people could do it as well and a fair few could do it better.

As you were.

Cathpot Sun 16-Jun-13 22:04:50

Maybe teach first are picking their graduates better in terms of personality as the last two pgce students we have had through have not had a personality between them let alone one robust enough for teaching. I just kept thinking about how much I learnt in that year of training about the sort of teacher I wanted to be, what strategies worked for me, where the holes/ misconceptions were in my knowledge, and I am glad I had that time. I was still on a massive learning curve in my first couple of years but I was better than I would have been without the training.

EvilTwins Mon 17-Jun-13 18:31:11

I did my PGCE straight from university and started teaching 2 weeks after my 22nd birthday. I did my training in 1996/7 so no NQT year, just straight in. I learned far more in that first year

EvilTwins Mon 17-Jun-13 18:32:30

of proper teaching than in my PGCE year, and have continued to learn in the intervening years. As long as the graduate is willing to learn and to work hard, I'm not convicted Teach First is any worse than other ITTC.

freerangeeggs Mon 17-Jun-13 19:55:20

This is a different programme, but I recently met a Schools Direct 'trainee'. He had had literally no training AT ALL in his first year. The 'outstanding' inner city academy he was placed in just chose not to provide it, and nobody followed it up. I shit you not. Full timetable from day one. I'd like to see that happen in a middle class area.

That is shocking freerange.

CatherineofMumbles Mon 17-Jun-13 20:09:48

I know two TF people who were excellent, did very well at a failing comp, which improved over the years they were there. After a few years they moved on, but the school and the pupils certainly got god value out of them. both are now HODs , one of them in a leading London indie.
September will be the first cohort of School Drect, so there cannot have been a School Direct person without training since they don't yet exist. (And in any case with School Direct, schools will work in partnership with a university,)

It sounds similar to GTP but traditionally GTP candidates were often older. I did a PGCE at 21 and could not have survived with less training. It's not that the quality of the training was brilliant (2 weeks before we qualified - oh yeah there's this thing they're rolling out called the National Literacy Strategy' angry) but I definitely needed the slow 'easing in'. Even then there were some days during my NQT year I found myself fantasising about being slightly hit by a bus.

I did eventually morph into a good teacher, honest!

yabyum Mon 17-Jun-13 20:16:41

Last September was the first 'pilot' cohort of School Direct, so it is possible that freerangeeggs met a poorly supported SD trainee. It wouldn't surprise me - ill-conceived, rushed programme which is meant to be 'school led' - which is fine if the school knows what it is doing, and is capable of providing excellent ITE without a University holding its hand every step of the way...

Oh, and Teach First's training is all provided by University partners, not by Teach First itself.

AmIGoingMad Mon 17-Jun-13 20:23:19

I did the gtp at age 24 and was literally dropped in at the deep end, no training and teaching classes on my own from day one. The year went really well though and almost a decade later I'm still teaching and doing a decent job I reckon! They dropped the age limit then on the Gtp and we had one girl straight out of uni- she was fantastic and we were very lucky to have her. Things had changed by that point though and she shadowed first before taking in more responsibility.

I'd say that like with any career/job it'll depend in the individual.

spudmasher Mon 17-Jun-13 20:33:07

It's hard work for everyone to have a TF candidate in a Primary School.
I don't think it works as well as in Secondary School.

TwasBrillig Mon 17-Jun-13 20:44:02

I was employed to teach 6th form straight from oxbridge. No training. After my first term Iwent on the city and guilds course but that was quite basic. Later did a distance pgce that accredited prior teaching. . So I've never really been taught!

nennypops Mon 17-Jun-13 21:36:16

The daughter of a friend did this. She's a lovely, very bright girl who I would say would be an excellent teacher. She was put into a very rough secondary school to teach maths, and although there were a number of able, motivated kids who loved her, the great majority of her lessons were living hell: she was left largely unsupported and having had minimal training to deal with large classes of adolescent kids, many of them bigger than her, who didn't want to be there and for whom there seemed to be no limits in terms of behaviour. It wasn't just a matter of class disruption, it was direct physical and sexual threats, intimidation to her and others, and occasional actual violence. She was expected to deal with children with complex learning difficulties in respect of which she's had no training at all. On top of that she was doing her course at weekends and had a load of coursework to fit in on top of lesson planning and marking.

She got through her first term but had a look at Christmas where she was going to have to spend 18 hours a day every day - including Christmas - working her socks off, realised she was absolutely dreading going back, and quit. The motivated children were distraught because they'd never had such a good maths teacher.

I think it's a real shame because, had she gone through the PGCE route, she'd probably still be teaching now, and generations of children would reap the benefit. As it is, she's taken her maths skills off to do accountancy where she will earn twice as much for half the workload.

TheEarlOf Mon 17-Jun-13 22:43:58

I'm still at uni but will be starting Teach First in September 2014. I did a 'intern' placement this year while in my second year at uni working with yr7 and y8 bottom maths sets and while it was tough (half the time it was behaviour management rather than teaching). I really enjoyed it and I know people on the traditional PGCE route and with what I learnt on the weeks really intensive training before my placement was what they learnt in weeks (just beacuse they did it at a slower pace).

Also, Teach First work in outstanding schools, the criteria is something to do with a proportion of the pupils from a low socioeconomic background.

TheEarlOf Mon 17-Jun-13 22:46:18

I was truly shocked by some of the maths teachers in the school though. I was drafted in to help with an A-level Maths lesson and said I was a bit hesitant having not done maths at uni, just an A-Level a few years earlier and my mentor said that put me ahead of most of the maths teacher in the department who didn't even have A-Level maths!

if Teach first can get bright graduates in who can do it and stick out tough situations I think the pupils benefit from it (obviously I am a bit biased as I am on Teach First but it's just my opinion!)

EvilTwins Mon 17-Jun-13 23:02:23

I agree to a point, but think it's vital that high achieving graduates don't feel the need to complete the sentence with "teach first, then go and get on with your real career"...

TheEarlOf Mon 17-Jun-13 23:09:33

EvilTwins I see your worry but I would never have considered teaching at this stage of my life without Teach First. Is it better for children to have two years of good (that is obviously up for debate) teachers or to not have those people at all (obviously other routes produce outstanding teachers and just being a high graded graduate doesn't make you a good teacher but Teach First graduates have chosen it for a reason and to be honest we are very pushed to do extra things for the school e.g. extra curricular and pastoral care to at least try and get unengaged children engaged again)

TheFallenMadonna Mon 17-Jun-13 23:14:11

Teach First work in outstanding schools? Why?
I mean, I know that it would provide a good training and support programme, and that key to the success of the initiative in terms of the quality of teacher. But I thought there was more to it than that. Outstanding graduates for less than outstanding schools...?

EvilTwins Mon 17-Jun-13 23:17:18

I think your response, whilst well-meaning, is naive. You cannot underestimate the disruption to a school if the is a large turnover of staff. My issue with Teach First has always been the timescale- get the top grads in and get them to commit to two year's of teaching. Convince them it'll be good for their future career prospects and that this poor disadvantaged kids will benefit from their superiority. Sorry, but no. In my experience, kids benefit far more, in the sorts if schools TF targets, by getting from school the stability many of them lack at home. I used to teach in a school in London which had TF teachers back in the early 2000s. A teacher who comes for two years, with the intention of it being a short-term placement before moving on to bigger and better (paid) things can do just as much damage as good.

I agree we need to ensure there is a steady flow of decent graduates into teaching, but am not sure that the "teach first, feel smug, pass on your genius then move on" approach is the best.

Obviously it may well be your intention to make teaching your long term career, in which case, fabulous, but I have come across more than one TF graduate in the past who feels it's a good way to "hibe back" before moving on to a more capitalist career.

EvilTwins Mon 17-Jun-13 23:19:07

Eeek- typos.

Years not year's.

Give back.

Sure there are others...

TheEarlOf Mon 17-Jun-13 23:41:29

More typos? I am the queen of typos! On an internet forum as long as it makes sense it's fine.

EvilTwins I think you're right in that it used to be sold as a it'll make you more employable etc. but we have definitely been warned that it's not like that any more, you have to do it because you like/love teaching and while it will enhance other career prospects you won't just walk into a corporate job because of it. I am not naive in that disruption of teachers isn't worse but I also went into a school where 'normal' teachers weren't even there for 2 years and the staff turnover was much higher than that, so even 2 years was some stability.

TheFallenMadonna They work in outstanding schools because of the criteria for a school is not how bad it is but about the demographics of teh school's pupils. I don't really know much about it so you'd probably have to look on their website for more info

smee Tue 18-Jun-13 10:12:03

My DS has a Teach First Teacher this year. I was a bit sceptical at first, but she's utterly brilliant. Really impressed with her and the kids all love her too. She's teaching Yr4 in an inner city, quite deprived area. Not an outstanding school, but ofsted 'good'.

Happymum22 Thu 20-Jun-13 12:57:52

DDs best friend does Teach First Primary and from what I've heard, I am a big supporter. I am a deputy head of a primary and, if we were in the right area, I would love to have a TF teacher.

I am so glad there is a lot of support on this thread, I am always nervous when I see TF mentioned as there is a lot of skepticism about it. Many don't understand it or realise the amount of training given is barely any less than PGCEs or School Direct (infact, often more than school direct). Yes it is not a perfect route, but all routes into teaching have their downsides. IMO all these advantages and disadvantages are equal.
The interview process is horrendously tough and 99% of the time they really don't let anyone in who isn't up to it and doesn't understand it is about the teaching and raising standards, not improving your CV or feeling good and all rosey about helping a deprived community
They do work right from when they get their offer completing time in schools, action plans to get their subject knowledge up to scratch and preparation work which involves very extensive interactive online modules. They then do the 6 weeks, which I have heard is very intensive and innovative training, followed by being mentored and supported throughout their first two years.
There is definitely a switch in attitude, the company require a lifelong commitment to education. The numbers who move out of teaching after two years are almost the same as other routes into teaching. Those who do it have something different about them to want to do Teach First.

To address EvilTwin's points:

You cannot underestimate the disruption to a school if the is a large turnover of staff. My issue with Teach First has always been the timescale- get the top grads in and get them to commit to two year's of teaching.
This isn't the case anymore, and if they do move from teaching many set up social enterprise, helping address educational disadvantage in other ways, or go into e.g. the civil service dept of ed. And, as I said, turnover is not much different, if not better than, from normal staff turnover in such schools.

Convince them it'll be good for their future career prospects and that this poor disadvantaged kids will benefit from their superiority. Sorry, but no. In my experience, kids benefit far more, in the sorts if schools TF targets, by getting from school the stability many of them lack at home.
I agree we need to ensure there is a steady flow of decent graduates into teaching, but am not sure that the "teach first, feel smug, pass on your genius then move on" approach is the best.
Any Teach First-er with that attitude would be filtered out in the interview process now (perhaps not 10 years ago when it was less oversubscribed)

I agree on your point if more TF participants are committed to make a long term career of it then this is when even bigger impacts will be seen. The King Solomons academy in London is a fantastic example of what can be achieved.

Mo2013 Mon 24-Jun-13 15:25:51

The teach first scheme has a very extensive recruitment process. I went through this myself in 2011. It is basically aimed at exceptional graduates fresh from Uni or experienced people looking to change industry with a fast track route into teaching in "deprived" areas to tackle educational disadvantage.
The criteria needed to apply are high caliber as you need a grade A at A-level for your chosen subject plus a 2.1 at a top tier University. For the recruitment part I was required to prepare and deliver mock lessons, group study cases, basic literacy/numeracy tests, 1-1 interviews, submit a proposal on how I would approach my subject, Knowledge Audits. All in all from applying to having all the stages accepted, it was 4 months and I was offered a deferred place in a school in 2013. My personal situation is different, unlike the fresh faced flexible free as a bird graduates, I am 27 (applied when I was 25) and have worked in Banking for 4 years, by the time my school placement was finalised, it became impossible to manage due to my personal circumstances - My wife is pregnant and expecting in September. With a heavy heart, I had to retract my placement as I am staying in the Midlands and the placement they offered was London.
I regrettably had to opt out of the summer institute which is the 6 weeks intensive mentoring/training and developing that is provided to gear you up for term start. By all accounts, this scheme is very successful and opens up the door for many people into teaching that would not have necessarily followed that route traditionally.

mumeeee Mon 24-Jun-13 17:37:50

How can she just teach science it's a specialist subject. DD1 did a PGCE in Biology and she had to do short courses in Chemistry and Physics to be able to teach those subjects to A level. She is now 26 and has just got the head of science job at the school where she works. She has only been teaching for 2 and a half years. There are a lot of challenging pupils in the school.

TheEarlOf Mon 24-Jun-13 17:53:36

mumeeee How can who teach science?
For TF to teach secondary science the requirements are:
Please note, to be eligible to teach Science two relevant A-Levels are required. (+ a degree in a sciency subject)

Regarding the subject knowledge issue, you have to do a Subject Knowledge Audit and are expected to catch up with any areas you feel you are deficit in. If you've done an A-level in the subject why wouldn't you know the GCSE knowledge in it?

sashh Tue 25-Jun-13 05:47:07


Have you considered teaching in FE? I did my training at Staffordshire Uni (Delivered at Stafford College which is opposite the mainline train station so easily accessible from anywhere in the Midlands with a train station).

The course is over two years and is either a half day or one evening a week.

You need to have access to learners but this can be an evening class (paid) or voluntary work.

I know it wouldn't be easy with a new baby but might be more doable. It qualifies you to teach age 14 - adult in an FE college and there are moves to make it acceptable for QTS with some additional training.

LoveSewingBee Wed 15-Jan-14 15:48:01

I know this is an old thread, but watched the TV program on BBC 3 yesterday and I thought the level of teaching of these graduates was SHOCKING.nthey were clueless, both in terms of subject matter and didactics.

Moonboots222 Sat 01-Mar-14 02:23:59

Number 1: have you ever taught in a school?

If you have you must realise how difficult it is on your first few weeks, no matter what route you take into teaching.

Number 2: do you really think you were getting the whole picture of these fledgling teacher's careers from 1 hours tv programme?

Get a grip

Chloerose75 Sat 01-Mar-14 02:38:17

What TV prog are you talking about? Might I player it.

EvilTwins Sat 01-Mar-14 16:36:36

Tough Young Teachers on BBC3. It was clearly edited for effect, but yes, there was some appalling stuff. What annoyed me most, in all honesty, was the lack of up-to-date thinking - obsession with getting a C when it's more about progress now.

One thing that did make me raise my eyebrows was the young guy who left after one year - clearly a good teacher but more than once the issue was raised by his friends (and fiancée) that he should be doing a "better" job with more money. This is my issue with TF - graduates who think it's the first step on the ladder to something else. I also wanted to punch the TV any time one of them referred to
"Giving back" to the community.

My babysitter has just applied for TF and had her assessment. The task they set her was, IMO, bizarre - she had to teach 2 adults for 7 minutes, and pretend that they were "ks3" students - no suggestion of whether that meant 11 yr olds or 14 yr olds. No info given about ability or SN. This wouldn't happen in a real teaching interview. I'm really not sure what they were trying to do.

Thymeout Sat 01-Mar-14 17:58:35

I think the obsession with getting a C was to do with the fact that a C is the bare minimum for many 6th forms. It was more the question of what choices the student would have in September than how well the school had taught him up to that point.

Re pps who said that TF students are sent to 'oustanding' schools. Surely Archbishop Lefranc did not come into that category? I think the last programme said that its results had been on the decline for the previous 5 years.

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 18:01:05

Chloerose, here's a link to info on Tough Young Teachers, but it looks like its not on IPlayer any more. There are some clips though.

I watched the whole series, and thought most of the TF teachers were a bit eccentric in one way or another. I guess you have to be to agree to be filmed doing something like that. It would be nerve-wracking enough anyway without a TV crew following you around.

I do know people in the teaching profession who are full of praise for the Teach First programme, so its hard to tell if the experiences in the film were typical.

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 18:05:02

"Surely Archbishop Lefranc did not come into that category?"

No, its in Special Measures.

LordPalmerston Sat 01-Mar-14 18:07:27

i was just 23 when I started and was paid for it - taught as a PGCE at 22

you are a teacher ergo you are ancient acc to the kids

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 18:07:49

i know of one who has a degree in english/drama, but who is teaching maths because that's what the school needed, and she has an a level in maths hmm

i think it is outrageous.

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 18:11:21

"i think it is outrageous"
Not surprising though when we have a shortage of maths teachers generally. Agencies are recruting them from abroad.

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 18:14:52

either well qualified teachers who know how to teach are important for students to learn and nake progress, or they aren't

if they are, fund appropriate training for them so they learn how to be effective teachers

if they aren't, well, keep chucking them in at the deep end, a bit of sink or swim never hurt anyone. hmm

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 18:19:15

i am not surprised, i am outraged. if my child was trying to learn a level maths from someone with no further qualification than an a level themselves, I'd feel she were betrayed.

that person won't have the depth of understanding of the subject to anticipate common errors and misconceptions, and how best to address them if my child is struggling. they won't know how to stretch her and inspire her to go further if she shows a talent, as they will not have gone further themselves.

and, thanks to teach first, will quite possibly have a sketchy understanding of pedagogy and classroom management too.

I'd call that outrageous.

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 18:24:59

it is bad enough that they get a six week intensive how to teach course before taking full responsibility for classes- i really question the wisdom of the sink or swim approach tbh

if teach first candidates do not even have a degree or further study beyond a level for the subject they are to teach...that shows an impressive level of contempt for children.

i find that kind of cynicism and arrogance corrosive. no thanks.

the money training them would be better spent training and supporting teachers who have already committed to working in those schools, rather than parachuting in saviours who, like as not, will piss off after their term is done

that isn't very sexy though

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 18:51:48

"if my child was trying to learn a level maths from someone with no further qualification than an a level themselves, I'd feel she were betrayed"

To be fair, they're not necessarily teaching A Level. In many cases they're teaching much more basic maths skills. In those circumstance teaching ability is probably more necessary than advanced maths skills.

Many primary school teachers don't have more than a C in GCSE maths, and some aren't great teachers either, so its not surprising many students are struggling by the time they get to secondary school.

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 18:58:35

this person is teaching a level maths as well as ks4 and ks3

subject knowledge definitely matters.

i am a great teacher, in a science subject.

would you like me to teach your child to play violin? or how to swim?

or perhaps how to drive- i can't drive myself, but i have had a go a few times, and as i say, i am a great teacher hmm

an effective teacher is someone who can teach well and know their subject well. it is ridiculous to suggest you can be effective without good subject knowledge.

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 19:09:13

So chibi, if you were head of a school that couldn't recruit any maths teachers, what would you do?

ChocolateSnowflakes Sat 01-Mar-14 19:12:11

I am really anti-Teach First (and not just because I'm a PGCE student!)

I think it's very unfair that children in deprived areas are given Student Teachers for an entire year or entire course. Why do more privileged children deserve experienced teachers and less privileged children don't? Teach First students may well be fantastic (some may well not, just like any other teacher) but they are still learning themselves. At least with a PGCE classes are still generally looked after by permanent teachers, even if the ST takes most of the classes.

Also, Teach First students often tend to be from very privileged backgrounds themselves. This might not always be an issue but I'm not sure that they can all understand or have empathy for the children they teach. I've heard some horrible comments from TF STs, like "I can just imagine what her parents are like" or "It's not surprising considering what their family must be like".

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 19:15:44

why bother hiring a teach first candidate then, if they don't even have a relevant qualification?

if the priority is 'get anyone in tbe post' why not just pop down to town centre, and just grab the first random person you meet and offer them the job?

i guess it is good enough for some people's kids, though.

it would be a very rare school that had no teachers in a particular department at all. i would use any funds to train and support staff already in the department to make them more effective rather than hiring randoms who are unlikley to bring much in the way of teaching ability or indeed subject knowledge, and who see it as a stepping stone to bigger things

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 19:20:45

the only thing more cynical than teach first is the schools direct salaried route

they don't even get a 6 week quickie how to teach course. they are teachers with sole responsibility right from the start.

either highly qualified teachers who know their subject(s) and how to teach effectively make a difference to children's education, or they don't. fairly obvious to see what the government think.

yes,i am aware that the previous government startedthis shit. they ere knobs too.

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 19:25:38

"if the priority is 'get anyone in tbe post' why not just pop down to town centre, and just grab the first random person you meet and offer them the job?"

It's not. The priority is to get the best person you can into the post. I'm pretty sure those Heads who decide the best candidate for maths teaching is a Teach First candidate with an 'A' Level aren't turning away queues of maths specialists in the process.

As I said before, the problem is that there aren't enough specialist maths teachers.

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 19:35:13

why not just hire any unqualified person with an a level then?

how does a person having a great degree in a completely unrelated area, coupled with zero teaching experience make for a potentially great teacher?

the fact that heads are having to choose between inadequately qualified candidates and no one at all isn't exactly great

the fact that the alternative to teach first may be even worse doesn't make teach first better. it just makes the whole charade more depressing.

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 19:47:12

"why not just hire any unqualified person with an a level then?"

Some schools do! Some schools are clearly more desperate than others.

Presumably the schools must get some benefit from the Teach First programme, or they wouldn't use it.

Anything that encourages bright, motivated people into teaching can't be a bad thing. Many of the Teach First grads probably wouldn't have considered teaching if the programme wasn't seen as having a high bar for entry. In many cases that's what motivates them. You're right that many will go off and do something else after their 2 years, but I bet many of them come back to it in later life.

If the PGCE had a higher bar for entry, maybe Teach First wouldn't be necessary.

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 19:50:29

bright motivated people who get minimal training and variable levels of support don't thrive, generally.

this programme does a huge disservice to those it purports to train, and those it pretends to serve

if great teachers come out of it, it is in spite of rather than because of.

out of curiosity, are you involved in teaching at all?

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 20:01:24

"bright motivated people who get minimal training and variable levels of support don't thrive, generally"

Bright, motivated people who get 6 weeks of intensive training before they start teaching, and ongoing intensive support, can certainly thrive, and clearly many do or the Teach First programme wouldn't be considered successful.

"out of curiosity, are you involved in teaching at all?"
I'm involved in governance. I don't have direct experience of Teach First because we don't have any trouple employing good teachers. Other schools aren't so fortunate

I did watch the TV series about Teach First, and could see they were getting lots of support.

I'm also a pragmatist. I think you can waste a lot of energy being outraged on principle, and miss opportunities to recognise when people are making the best of a bad situation.

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 20:11:37

Pragmatism is very easy when you are being realistic about things which will never affect you, or your children.

how on earth is having an opinion a waste of time? if only i could agree with you that teach first is awesome, i would have more time to do what, exactly?

if employing underqualified people with very brief training was the optimum way to staff schools, they'd all do it. funnily enough, they don't.

whether this is the best of a bad situation or not does not negate the fact that it is poor practice all around.

i have not seen the tv program you refer to, and i would be skeptical of any claims that a reality tv show would show an accurate portrayal of what teach first is like hmm

ChocolateSnowflakes Sat 01-Mar-14 20:16:02

Saturday just looking through your conversation with chibi, I'm guessing you're all for Teach First. Can I ask why you think that it's only schools in deprived areas that are given Teach First trainees? Surely there must be schools in more privileged areas that are also desperate for teachers. Especially as your reasoning for having unqualified teachers seems to follow the same path, even though it's mostly private schools that employ unqualified teachers. So surely desperation can't be the only reason for using Teach First trainees?

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 20:22:11

a lot is made of private schools hiring unqualified teachers. however a private school would be very unlikely to employ someone with only an a level in a subject. increasingly more teachers also have qts.

HomeHelpMeGawd Sat 01-Mar-14 20:23:21

Chibi, this statement is just silly: "if employing underqualified people with very brief training was the optimum way to staff schools, they'd all do it. funnily enough, they don't"

1. The people who go through TF are not defined only by not having a pgce. They are top graduates and have a host of other skills and capabilities. Qualifications aren't everything, and pedagogic quals in particular are not the be all and end all.
2. You are arguing that the dominant method of teacher training is de facto the best because it is dominant. That is circular reasoning. TF is very successful, despite not being the dominant method. By definition it can't be, because it starts with taking top graduates, and the pool for the dominant method is a lot less selective

TF is excellent and gets very good results for both pupils and teachers. It is more systematically successful than the dominant method of teacher training in the UK, without a doubt...

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 20:26:19

"I'm guessing you're all for Teach First"
Not really. I just think chibi is slagging it off without knowing much about it. Nothing wrong with having opinions, but if they're not based on solid grounds then you have to expect them to be undermined.

"Can I ask why you think that it's only schools in deprived areas that are given Teach First trainees?"
Schools apply to be part of Teach First. They participate in it because they expect benefit from it. None of them are "given" trainees unless they ask for them.

I have no idea whether "most of them are in deprived areas" or not, and didn't say that. I was giving a possible explanation for why some schools might ask a Teach First trainee with Maths A Level to teach maths rather than their specialist degree subject. I assume they wouldn't do that unless they desperately needed maths teachers. That might be because their school has a poor reputation, or it might be because they're out in the sticks. Doesn't really matter why. There aren't enough specialist maths teachers to go around, so some schools are desparate.

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 20:32:20

"if employing underqualified people with very brief training was the optimum way to staff schools, they'd all do it."

But they're not just "employing" them, they're training them. It's just another model for teacher training. The trainees still end up with a PGCE and QTS at the end of it.

At first it was presumably an experiment, probably done on a trial basis in a small number of schools. I imagine it was judged to be working, so they continued it.

It's popular with schools. It (reportedly) produces some great teachers. If it didn't it would be scrapped.

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 20:32:40

i am not arguing that the de facto method of training is the best. i am arguing that teach first is inadequate. a subtle difference, i guess.

what is the point of having highly qualified graduates who then are not teaching in that subject? i.e. the teach first teacher i know who has a first in english/drama who is teaching maths? what is the point of that?

EvilTwins Sat 01-Mar-14 20:33:20

HomeHelp - define "top graduate" My babysitter is a fabulous young woman, but is on for a 2:1 from an ex-poly. She got thought the first part of the application process and is waiting to hear how she got on at interview.

Define "top graduate"

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 20:34:14

lol at qualifications aren't everything

if that isnt a fitting motto for the education system in this country i don't know what is

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 20:37:01

"Pragmatism is very easy when you are being realistic about things which will never affect you, or your children"

And its very easy to be outraged at the decisions other people make in adverse situations, when you've never had to experience them yourself, and probably never will experience them.

If your child's school couldn't employ a specialist maths teacher, you'd presumably move your daughter to another school. Not everyone can do that.

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 20:40:48

"what is the point of having highly qualified graduates who then are not teaching in that subject? i.e. the teach first teacher i know who has a first in english/drama who is teaching maths? what is the point of that?"

What is the point of churning out thousands of english/drama graduates when the country needs more maths specialists? smile

EvilTwins Sat 01-Mar-14 20:40:51

Having looked at the TF website, the entry requirements are as follows:

2:1 degree
300 UCAS points at A Level (that's 3 Bs, if taken from 3 A Levels, though it doesn't specify the number of A levels)
A C grade in GCSE English & Maths

So any smuggery about "top" graduates is misplaced IMO.

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 20:42:43

i don't think this is good enough. i think it gives children who are already getting a raw deal.from their education even more of a raw deal. i find it problematic on many levels.

i am bemused by your conviction that people can just move their children elsewhere if they don't like it. indeed, perhaps i could have them tutored at home by a governess.

clearly my distrust of teach first unhinges you, you seem to almost be taking it personally. odd.

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 20:43:58

indeed, those english/drama graduates could easily be teaching maths or physics

you are parodying yourself, surely

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 20:46:01

"i am bemused by your conviction that people can just move their children elsewhere if they don't like it"

I am bemused by your misinterpretation. I said the exact opposite.

"clearly my distrust of teach first unhinges you, you seem to almost be taking it personally"

Er, no. You're making it personal. I'm sticking to the point.

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 20:49:00

sorry, i can just move my chldren elsewhere. why is that then? what make me different from everyone else who can't, then?

they aren't highly qualified. they may not have post secondary qualifications in what they will teach. they get brief training, then sole responsibility for classes. what's not to love?

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 20:49:01

"indeed, those english/drama graduates could easily be teaching maths or physics"

No. We should have fewer english/drama graduates, and more maths/physics graduates.

Higher education should be funded on the basis of what the country needs.

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 20:49:59

what does that have to do with what we are talking about? surely that is a separate issue?

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 20:52:04

or maybe that is what teach first is meant to address retroactively-you got the wrong degree, so teach in something we need?

what better way to encourage future maths and physics graduates than to have them taught by someone who is only a month ahead of them in terms of subject knowledge

morethanpotatoprints Sat 01-Mar-14 20:55:04

My PGCE meant jack and didn't prepare me for a room full of very difficult teenagers.
Yes, I was nearly eaten alive but lived to tell the tale.
It's sink or swim and best they find out straight away imo.
My first group consisted of young adults who just didn't want to be there. There was no respect for anyone in the room. Regular fights breaking out, throwing chairs, tipping up tables, swearing, blatantly calling friends on their mobiles. It was just like a zoo.

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 20:57:50

"what does that have to do with what we are talking about?"

Because you were "outraged" that non-maths-specialists are teaching maths. They're doing that because there aren't enough maths specialists. Perhaps the school in question didn't need an English/Drama teacher. Perhaps they already had an outstanding one, and a queue at the door a mile long whenever they advertised for one.

It's quite simple. The country doesn't have enough Maths graduates, and those that do graduate in Maths have a wide range of career choices. If they do choose teaching then they are snapped up quickly, because they are highly sought after.

In contrast, the country has many more English graduates than it probably needs, and a large number of them go into teaching.

That is why your friend with the Maths/English degree ended up teaching maths.

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 21:00:28

the inadequacy of a pgce training doesn't justify an equally crappy training replacement

there is actually research and established good practice about how to train teachers effectively.

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 21:03:09

what makes an english/drama graduate an appropriate candidate for a maths teaching post?

do we really want the rationale for teacher recruitment to be 'ehhh we couldn't find anyone else'?

though as a slogan, it's certainly up there with 'qualifications aren't everything'

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 21:05:44

i was outraged, not 'outraged'. are you trying to belittle my posts, or are you unclear what these punctuation marks are for? smile

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 21:08:09

"what makes an english/drama graduate an appropriate candidate for a maths teaching post?"

They're clearly not appropriate at all. However, if they're the only member of staff with a maths A Level then they're the best of a bad lot. If the only way a school can manage to attract staff members with a Maths A Level is via Teach First then that's desperately sad, but it's better than nothing.

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 21:10:48

another great slogan- it's better than nothing

this is doing a huge disservice to kids and teachers, we could be doing better

Philoslothy Sat 01-Mar-14 21:11:22

Having looked at the TF website, the entry requirements are as follows:

2:1 degree
300 UCAS points at A Level (that's 3 Bs, if taken from 3 A Levels, though it doesn't specify the number of A levels)
A C grade in GCSE English & Maths

So any smuggery about "top" graduates is misplaced IMO

I was a teach first, most of us were from Oxbridge with a few from places like Imperial and quite a few of us had 1sts.

Philoslothy Sat 01-Mar-14 21:12:51

About half of us are still teaching. I keep seeing a statistic on MN that about half of teachers leave within five years anyway.

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 21:13:31

"are you trying to belittle my posts"
Nope. I was using quotation marks because I was quoting you. You're a little too sensitive!

I think we're broadly agreeing smile. We both think that kids should be taught maths by maths specialists.

Trouble is, you're blaming the fact that they're not on the wrong thing. It's not the fault of Teach First, its the fault of the entire education system ... a system that ultimately churns out too many Enlgish grads and not enough maths grads.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 01-Mar-14 21:13:46

I was expected to teach Further Maths, I don't have a GCSE in Maths.
When I complained and explained I hadn't got a clue, my line manager told me to get the most experienced student to explain to the class.
I went to the union and got no help at all.
It was to cover mat leave so not even as if everything was done and it was just cover teaching, which imo still wouldn't be right.

This is happening in schools throughout the country and is nothing new.
I have posted about this before. There are people with Post Compulsory quals, no QTS or secondary qualifications teaching y7-11. They are employed in the 6th form but then have to teach other years.
Unions couldn't give a monkeys and the school tell you to leave if you don't like it.
I left, but several of my peers stayed and are teaching subjects and school years they are qualified to teach.

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 21:14:13

quite a few people training on other routes have similar qualifications to you, then

some teach first teachers will be amazing. i don't think it will be due to the training they get though. i just think we could do better

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 21:16:51

even if our education system churned out (grim phrase actually) an adequate number of maths/physics teachers, that would not make teach first a great way of training them to be teachers

Philoslothy Sat 01-Mar-14 21:18:31

I am not making any claims about my personal qualifications and am not claiming to be better qualified than other teachers. I was just making the point that IME the Teach First candidates were significantly more qualified than the minimum quoted.

I think all teachers should have at least a 2:1 tbh and as far as I know while I have been a member of SLT we have not employed anyone who is not a subject specialist and who does not have at least 2:1. We also have a healthy spread of Oxbridge graduates and most of our staff are from top universities..

HomeHelpMeGawd Sat 01-Mar-14 21:25:32

Chibi, your reasoning was that it could be deduced that TF wasn't the best method because it wasn't the dominant method. That is fallacious

Evil, the definition at matters isn't mine but the one TF uses. In practice, what it means is that people who have the wherewithal to get the most selective jobs in the graduate market join TF. People who wouldn't otherwise consider teaching. And quite a lot of them then stay in teaching, rather than bowing to the lure of mammon.

Chibi, qualifications aren't everything. Lol at you for believing they are. A Manichean view of the world is unhelpful to delivering better education, although it may help you avoid affronts to your dignity from having to recognise that a TF teacher could be good despite (gasp) not having a pgce, I admit. I guess the more nuanced version of my original statement would have been to say that the mentality behind TF is that quals matter, but that pedagogical quals are a lot less important than quals that show raw intellect and ability, and that the broader traits of good teachers can be assessed and developed by means other than a pgce.

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 21:28:50

no, that wasn't my reasoning. there are only a small cohort of school eligible to choose teach first anyway.

i object to teach first on many grounds, none of which are centered on how popular it is.

okthen Sat 01-Mar-14 21:30:17

I was quite shocked at how, well, posh, the TF graduates in Tough Young Teachers are. I'm making assumptions, but I'd be surprised if they weren't largely private school/Oxbridge. If TF is about ending educational inequality, I would hope it would apply the same thinking to its own recruitment. Surely a role model they can relate/aspire to would inspire pupils in tough schools. I know it's not as simple as that...but I can imagine the kids I went to school with (inner city comp) switching off if faced with someone so alien from themselves. JP from Fresh Meat sprang to mind!

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 21:32:53

i am unsure as to how expecting a maths teacher to have studied maths beyond high school, and wanting them to know how to teach their subject effectively is an inappropriate expectation.

i am cheered by ypur optimism that a bright person can figure out both their subject and how to teach it as they go along.

what about the education of the children who are being taught by them while they figure it out? oh well, never mind, it isn't like they matter anyway, right?

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 21:33:38

"even if our education system churned out (grim phrase actually) an adequate number of maths/physics teachers, that would not make teach first a great way of training them to be teachers"

No, but it might make it a less necessary way of training teachers.

We need more maths specialists in teaching. If we can't get maths specialists, then someone with A Level maths is the next best thing. If we have to bribe them with golden handshakes, "Teach First" prestige, or anything else that is flavour of the month, so be it.

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 21:35:55

"what about the education of the children who are being taught by them while they figure it out?"

Who else is going to teach them? You're missing my basic point that the schools are making the best of a bad situation.

Philoslothy Sat 01-Mar-14 21:47:28

okthen I am about as far removed from posh as you can get! I am the sort to be looked down on by most MNers. However I was struck by the poshness of the people I met on TF, but that reflected the universities they went to I guess.

Philoslothy Sat 01-Mar-14 21:49:24

IME we figured it out as quickly as PGCE students. I don't think teaching is a great mystery, you watch a few people, you read a few books - if you are reasonable bright and willing you can reach a good standard fairly quickly.

Philoslothy Sat 01-Mar-14 21:50:09

But time wise we worked it out quicker that PGCE students because we were teaching more - sooner. You learn by doing IME.

Mumzy Sat 01-Mar-14 21:58:03

There must be more incentive for maths/physics graduates to teach in schools otherwise the UK is never going to raise its numeracy levels. I propose if maths/physics complete 2 years of teaching then their student fees are wiped out by the government.

Mumzy Sat 01-Mar-14 21:59:25

Maths/physics graduates complete 2 years teaching in schools

HomeHelpMeGawd Sat 01-Mar-14 21:59:53

What do you mean, that wasn't your reasoning? You said: "if employing underqualified people with very brief training was the optimum way to staff schools, they'd all do it. funnily enough, they don't"

This is clearly a statement that argues that TF can be seen to be nonoptimal because it's not the dominant method used.

TheBeautifulVisit Sat 01-Mar-14 22:02:07

The Teach First cohort appear to be of a higher educational calibre than your average cecondary school teacher at a poorly performing secondary school.

EvilTwins Sat 01-Mar-14 22:04:47

I don't deny that many TF candidates are from decent universities. But also there are plenty of teachers who trained in other ways who went to decent universities (me, for example) One of my issues with TF is the constant labelling of them as "top graduates" when actually the TF entry criteria are nothing special. It's clearly not that selective. The assumption then is that TF teachers are somehow special, and that schools should feel grateful that these "top" young people are selflessly putting the start of their real careers on hold.

On TYT, the one woman who was in her 2nd year felt that she should only really stay on if she was offered some kind of responsibility. I was shock at her arrogance! Two years in one school does not make anyone an outstanding teacher.

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 22:06:39

I propse a system whereby universities recruit students in proportion to employers' needs, rather than on the basis of what students want to study.

If English students found it harder to get onto a degree course, because a limited number of places were available, they would soon switch to Maths.

Good post, EvilTwins. I do know some outstanding TF teachers, but still think more experience is needed before teachers take on greater responsibilities. And I totally object to the assumption that TF people are somehow superior to others. Individual TFs don't think it, ime, but TF definitely perpetuate that idea.

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 22:10:51

"On TYT, the one woman who was in her 2nd year felt that she should only really stay on if she was offered some kind of responsibility"

She wanted to go travelling. She was torn between that and teaching. She needed an incentive to stay. Seems reasonable to me. If schools want to hold onto their staff then they need to allow them to fulfill their ambitions. That's how other employers hold onto their staff.

bulby Sat 01-Mar-14 22:15:11

And I'm a damn site better teacher than many of a 'higher educational calibre'.

Philoslothy Sat 01-Mar-14 22:15:18

I think perhaps TF graduates have a different approach to teaching. IN my case teaching is not a vocation to me, it is something I do to have more time with the children. About two or three years in I went to my head and said I wanted a promotion and I got it. I have also rose up the ranks relatively quickly . I know that some see me as ruthlessly ambitious - although few people know that I have a teach first background. I teach as a means to an end - rather than living and breathing it.

Philoslothy Sat 01-Mar-14 22:16:28

But why can't you be of a high educational calibre and be a great classroom practitioner. I really don't understand why academic excellence isn't seen as a must for teachers.

BoffinMum Sat 01-Mar-14 22:19:45

The hidden agenda behind Teach First is that they teach the kids nobody else wants to work with, and if Teach First rookies didn't step in, nobody would, and these kids would just have random supply people dealing with them in a lot of cases.

The real scandal is that recruitment and retention allowances at an appropriate level are not paid to qualified, experienced teachers to take on these jobs.

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 22:20:52

"Having looked at the TF website, the entry requirements are as follows:"
"2:1 degree"
"300 UCAS points at A Level (that's 3 Bs, if taken from 3 A Levels, though it doesn't specify the number of A levels)"
"A C grade in GCSE English & Maths"

In contrast, the secondary PGCE requirements are:

A 2:2 honours degree relevant to your subject specialism (at least 50% of the degree content needs to be relevant to your chosen specialism).
GCSE (A to C): English Language and Mathematics

Clearly there will be some overlap between the qualifications of Teach First trainees and the qualifications of PGCE trainees, but the bar is set slightly higher for Teach First. With a 2:1 degree you can do a PhD, and access many top graduate jobs. A 2:2 gives you fewer options, one of which is teaching. That is why the PGCE has a reputation (unfair in many cases, but not in all) for attracting many people who weren't necessarily planning a career in teaching.

BoffinMum Sat 01-Mar-14 22:21:02

Philo, there aren't enough good teachers to go around and there never will be. 10% of the graduate workforce needs to train at any given time just to staff the sector. Not all of that 10% will be perfect.

Philoslothy Sat 01-Mar-14 22:24:46

Saturdaysuperstore I would like to know where thse teachers with 2:2 are working. Sadly I suspect they will be in some of our most challenging schools where many teachers with better qualifications will choose not to work - these schools also take on TF graduates - so there may appear to be a greater difference between these two types of teachers in challenging schools. I suspect that if they move on to "leafier" schools the difference may be less marked.

Philoslothy Sat 01-Mar-14 22:25:19

I don't think having a 2:1 is perfect!

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 22:33:28

"Sadly I suspect they will be in some of our most challenging schools where many teachers with better qualifications will choose not to work - these schools also take on TF graduates "

Yep, you're probably right. If PGCE trainees could be obliged to spend their first two years in an "allocated" school, like TF trainees, then that problem might be partially addressed. Perhaps the TF programme is a step in that direction.

noblegiraffe Sat 01-Mar-14 22:59:42

It does baffle me somewhat the incentives that are thrown at these 'top graduates' to try their hand at teaching for a couple of years.

I'm a maths specialist, I meet the Teach First entry criteria. Not only that but unlike them I have a proven track record of teaching success, having taught for 8 years.

But are there any governmental plans to keep me in teaching? No: pay freezes, pension cuts, ludicrous workload, being slated in the Mail by Gove etc.

I just don't get it. If they could keep people like me in teaching, they wouldn't need to throw so much at trying to get maths graduates into teaching - they even had to u-turn on not allowing people with 3rds to train in maths and physics they're that desperate.

So much for recruitment, very little for retention.

SaturdaySuperstore Sat 01-Mar-14 23:01:18

By the way, I did a physics degree, and the only people I know from my course who went into teaching got a 2:2. That was before 'Teach First', and before various other incentives were brought in, so perhaps its different now.

Philo - Criticising 2:1s whilst writing, 'I have rose up the ranks,' isn't helping your cause tbh.

Giraffe - Another v good post.

ChocolateSnowflakes Sat 01-Mar-14 23:09:32

(Following on from the entry requirements comments) all of the STs on my PGCE course that I know have at least a 2:1. Some from Oxbridge, some Russell Group, and some ex-poly (like me). I don't see what makes TFers "better graduates".

rollonthesummer Sat 01-Mar-14 23:16:45

Does the 3 or 4 year B Ed or BA with QTS still exist? If so, what are the entry requirements for that?

Philoslothy Sat 01-Mar-14 23:17:56

There you go Remus, you caught me out. I have one O level in metalwork.

Philoslothy Sat 01-Mar-14 23:19:37

I didn't criticize 2:1s. One of my degrees is a 2:1. I think the most common degree classification is a 2:1. I said it wasn't perfection. I also said we hired teachers with 2:1s.

I wasn't trying to catch you out - just pointing out that you may well be a, 'Top graduate' (whatever that is) but that, like my 2:1, may not be perfect.

Philoslothy Sat 01-Mar-14 23:31:31

I will never claim to be a top anything, I am your average Joanna who has been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

I never said a 2:1 was perfect, in fact I have stated at least twice that they are not. Heck even I have one!

TheBeautifulVisit Sat 01-Mar-14 23:37:14

I think poorly performing schools are very lucky to have TF graduates. They are also very lucky to have other well-educated and enthusiastic teachers who've arrived via other routes into teaching. But sadly some teachers are poorly educated and/or shoddy/jaded/lazy/unenthusiastic/ lacking in energy etc. I don't know the reasons for it.

People used to be proud to have a father/mother/daughter or son who was a teacher. This no longer seems to be the case. When did that happen?

Philoslothy Sat 01-Mar-14 23:42:01

My parents are proud that I am a teacher, although to be honest my parents are proud that I am not in prison. grin

I would be proud if my children became teachers.

When I tell people in RL that I am a teacher I tend to get treated like a saintly superhero.

chibi Sat 01-Mar-14 23:42:34

well exactly noblegiraffe

I did a PGCE in Secondary Maths and I would not have been able to go in as a Teach First trainee instead, the PGCE was essential for me. Not for everyone however, I had a few colleagues who were natural and would have been excellent TF candidates.

SuffolkNWhat Sat 01-Mar-14 23:55:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Philoslothy Sun 02-Mar-14 00:21:22

As I seem to be the lone TFer on this thread I assume that the accusation of smuggery is aimed at me. I have not claimed to be amazing, I have said that I have a degree result that is the most commonly achieved by graduates today - hardly a boast. I have said that I have been lucky to be in the right place at the right time - hardly blowing my own trumpet.

I haven't even claimed to be an outstanding teacher.

SuffolkNWhat Sun 02-Mar-14 00:41:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Philoslothy Sun 02-Mar-14 00:46:27

Whenever there is a threshold there are people just under that bar who feel unfairly excluded. If a 2:1 is the most commonly achieved degree classification, I do think that is the lowest the bar should be set.

We don't employ teachers with 2:2. Clearly if you have a 2:2 you are not a "thickie" however it is below the threshold for some teacher training programmes and some schools.

The last statement is not from me.

SuffolkNWhat Sun 02-Mar-14 00:49:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SuffolkNWhat Sun 02-Mar-14 00:53:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Philoslothy Sun 02-Mar-14 00:57:21

Mmmm Arisbottle and philoslothy seem like quite similar names.

I don't see myself as a savior for anyone, I just wanted a quick route into teaching, with a fast track to promotion.

SuffolkNWhat Sun 02-Mar-14 01:03:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Philoslothy Sun 02-Mar-14 01:08:09

We are just different, I left a six figure salary to go into teaching. I wanted to do something different, perhaps something that enabled me to pay back for the lucky breaks I had but I didn't want to earn 25k a year. I wanted a large family, the big house , horses , nice clothes ... and I didn't want DH to have to pay for 99% of it. I also wanted more time with my children.

We need good teachers but we also need good heads of department, good senior managers and good head teachers.

SuffolkNWhat Sun 02-Mar-14 01:16:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Philoslothy Sun 02-Mar-14 01:20:29

I am not arguing,we are just very different teachers in very different schools. I admire, sometimes even envy, teachers like you who have a vocation.

I am working for my pupils but to be honest my main motivation is doing what is best for my children. When teaching stops being the job that gives my family a good life and gives me the freedom to be the kind of mother I want to be, I will leave.

SaturdaySuperstore Sun 02-Mar-14 07:42:51

"People used to be proud to have a father/mother/daughter or son who was a teacher. This no longer seems to be the case. When did that happen?"

At the point when all the best jobs started advertising for grads with a minimum of a 2:1, and only those with a 2:2 (from STEM subjects at least) went into teaching.

Me: "By the way, I did a physics degree, and the only people I know from my course who went into teaching got a 2:2
"Suffolk: hmm okay your point being?"

My point being that there is a gulf in perception between those of us who did STEM subjects and others who did arts subjects.

Phil: "We don't employ teachers with 2:2."
Schools that don't employ teachers with a 2:2 will find it even harder to get STEM specialists. There aren't enough of them. They need incentives to go into teaching.

HomeHelpMeGawd Sun 02-Mar-14 08:09:33

noblegiraffe, it is important to remember that TF is not a government scheme but a social enterprise. So TF is not an especially good demonstration of the government's energy for recruitment either, although the government is paying TF to expand its coverage.

Separately, on the topic of TF participants not being all that special: SaturdaySuperstore has it exactly right - the TF bar is not set so high that entrants on other routes cannot possibly go via TF, but the bar is set notably higher and the reputation and momentum of TF ensures it attracts lots of really impressive graduates. By impressive, I mean they have strong academics, the right interpersonal skills to teach, and the potential to be great leaders. They are the sort of people who can and do go on to take the most selective jobs in the country as alternatives - top management consultancies (TF was set up by an ex-McKinsey person, and many McKinsey alumni have participated), top tech firms such as Google, PE houses, the Bank of England, i-banks, etc etc. There are vanishingly few such folks on other routes into teaching. You may think that all those alternative employers are morally dubious or what have you, but they are indisputably tough places to get jobs at, and attract outstanding graduates.

TF graduates are then explicitly sent to tough schools in tough places, with a mandate to teach to a high standard and to act as a role model for high aspirations and ambition. A TF teacher can often talk with personal knowledge about what it takes to get into Oxbridge or Imperial, apply for a job with a top institution, etc.

This definitely represents a particular political philosophy that many people really do not like: elitist, too focused on the top end, etc etc. I personally think it's bloody brilliant.

sassytheFIRST Sun 02-Mar-14 08:16:08

standing ovation for noblegiraffe

That's the thing, isn't it? I tick all the TF boxes, plus 17 years' teaching experience; am damn good at what I do, respected by pupils, parents and colleagues etc.

But no one is trying to retain me. If teaching was not a vocation for me, and/or didn't fit well into my family life, I would have jacked it in during the Gove years.

HomeHelpMeGawd Sun 02-Mar-14 08:18:30

"People used to be proud to have a father/mother/daughter or son who was a teacher. This no longer seems to be the case. When did that happen?"

I bet the decline is correlated with the decline in the relative pay of teachers compared to other jobs (a recent FT study showed how this is the case). And I'll bet the latter is a causative factor in the former. It cuts the pool down to those with weaker qualifications and the self-sacrificing, and means that those who are very capable but also sufficiently materialistic as to want pay comparable to what say a (non-partner) accountant earns are put off. The latter is a pretty large group; it certainly outnumbers those who are motivated solely by public service ideals. So the pay decline was stupid and self-defeating, despite pay costs being an obvious target for the DfE to make savings.

HomeHelpMeGawd Sun 02-Mar-14 08:21:31

sassy, I agree. Gove does have an answer for this, but it's not one you'll like. He'll say this is why he wants more academies - so that they have pay flexibility and can incentivise you to stay while exiting your weaker colleagues, which is difficult to do in ordinary schools because of union power.

SuffolkNWhat Sun 02-Mar-14 08:25:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

chibi Sun 02-Mar-14 08:26:27

how do they have a mandate to teach to a high standard when they may not even have post secondary experience of the subject they are paid to teach?

the tf teacher i know could probably do all that, in the subject she studied in depth. instead, she teaches, maths a subject she stopped studying at 18.

chibi Sun 02-Mar-14 08:27:47

salaries already make up a large proportion of school budgets. schools are unlikely to seek out new ways to pay even more

sassytheFIRST Sun 02-Mar-14 08:29:22

My school is an academy, so theoretically more flexible. But when I went for a promotion - a job I was asked to apply for, that had my name all over it etc - it went to a colleague on the grounds that he was full time and I work 0.65 of the week. The theory doesn't work out, I'm afraid.

SaturdaySuperstore Sun 02-Mar-14 08:39:13

"the reputation and momentum of TF ensures it attracts lots of really impressive graduates"

Yep, agree. Teach First is the equivalent of the Fast Track into the Civil Service, or the future leadership schemes that many major employers use to accelerate their top graduates. They wisely didn't call it "Fast Track" because it sounds like a one-way street. They want it to be perceived a taster for teaching, and one of its most important features is its relationship with major employers, who recruit from it at the end of the two years. Many grads aren't sure what they want to do when they leave uni, and if they make the wrong choice they often don't get a second chance at the all-important Milkround. This way they can try teaching, secure in the knowledge that they can switch out to another high quality employer if it doesn't suit them (and, crucially, switch back in again later, when they're in a different phase of life). Those that do move into other jobs are strongly encouraged to volunteer as ambassadors for the programme, and their experience of working as teachers can only be useful to whatever future career they choose.

For those that stay, they still get a PGCE/QTS, just by a different route that suits them better.

SaturdaySuperstore Sun 02-Mar-14 08:43:57

"how do they have a mandate to teach to a high standard when they may not even have post secondary experience of the subject they are paid to teach? The tf teacher i know could probably do all that, in the subject she studied in depth. instead, she teaches, maths a subject she stopped studying at 18."

That argument is a red herring chibi. You're flogging a dead horse. As I've said multiple times, there aren't enough maths grads in teaching ... that is why your english/drama friend had to teach maths. Instead of being precious about it perhaps she should realise that she has studied for a subject that is not in high demand, and retrain.

Philoslothy Sun 02-Mar-14 08:52:49

It cuts the pool down to those with weaker qualifications and the self-sacrificing,

I think this is why teaching needs to stress the other things that it offers. For me the big draw was the holidays, they are worth the paycut by themselves. I would struggle to find another job that almost allows me to forget that I am employed for 12 weeks of the year. There is also the ability to fit the job around family life. Once a week I walk out of the door at 3:30pm. In secondary teaching it is also relatively easy IME to get promoted, so you need not stay in 25K for that long. The pension is also a big draw.

I think teaching needs to stop presenting itself as a self sacrificing form of employment suited to martyrs and idealists and sell the idea that we are on to quite a good deal.

SuffolkNWhat Sun 02-Mar-14 09:03:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Philoslothy Sun 02-Mar-14 09:09:28

I agree that promotion isn't just for TF - who can also work hard.

Queeniethecorgi Sun 02-Mar-14 09:20:42

Name changed.

I have a place on TF. Primarily I think teaching has an image problem. 60% of TFers stay in teaching, many of whom wouldn't have considered it as a career were it not for TF. I think anything to raise the prestige of teaching as a profession is a good thing.

I was had a great conversation recently with a young woman who had had some TeachFirst teachers. She's gone on to do really well- she said that the most valuable part of having a TF teacher for her was the time and effort they put into kids who were doing well in a challenging school but could do better.

I haven't met most of the people doing TF yet, but I know that there are a mix- from people who went to private schools to people who went to TF schools themselves- and a good number of career switchers and people who are parents themselves. There probably are going to be a higher percentage of "posh" people than average but surely that's just the reality if you go to university or have a high falluting career?

It's not perfect and there is definitely room for dialogue around TF but I think it's fantastic that this large cohort of young people is being inspired to do something about social and educational inequality.

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Sun 02-Mar-14 09:30:38

Chibi, you are concerned about somebody with Maths A level teaching maths in a school and you seem to think this is caused by the TeachFirst programme. I don't know why, as my understanding is that this has been a problem in state schools for decades. When we were looking at secondary schools for our son, ten years ago, one of the single things we were most concerned about was ensuring that he would be taught by subject specialists, especially for Maths and Science. Sadly, the only way we could guarantee that at the time in our corner of SE London was to send him to an independent school. There were some state schools in our area where we would have had that confidence, but we couldn't get him a place there.

My mum was a teacher and when she trained in the 50s it was still a highly respected career, especially for women. I think the rot sent in not just as teachers' pay declined in comparison with other professions, but as more and more people in the UK came to value people largely by what they earn and what they spend their money on. In the early 80s a university friends of ours told us that in his first year of teaching his pupils scoffed at the idea of only having a small black and white TV and were already obsessed with brands and labels. I don't think that mindset was anything like as prevalent before the Thatcher years.

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 09:33:45

I guess my issue with it is the implication that TF is somehow the saviour of education and that the idea of well educated people going into state schools is a new one. I have a 2:1 from Warwick and never got anything lower than a B in GCSE/A levels (before the days of A* as well) I started teaching at 22 in a nice MC school but since 2000 have only taught in the kind of schools TF target- first in London, now not. In all the schools I have worked in, there have been highly educated, dedicated teaching staff. Yes, there have also been less impressive staff but you get poor staff everywhere, not just in teaching. One or two TF candidates in a difficult school is no going to turn it around. My problem with it has always been the temporary nature of it - commit for two years. It's like extended work experience.

SaturdaySuperstore Sun 02-Mar-14 09:38:37

"I guess my issue with it is the implication that TF is somehow the saviour of education"

Nobody is implying that. It's just one positive measure to get people into teaching. There are others too.

I find it frustrating that other teachers feel they have to slag of TF, just because they chose a different route themselves.

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Sun 02-Mar-14 09:39:55

Evil, it must be galling to people like you when others seem not to grasp that there are already many excellent teachers and portray TF as coming to the rescue. The trouble is though the dropout rate from teaching is very high, isn't it? One of the TF people on this thread said that at her school staff turnover was so high that having a teacher (any teacher, never mind a good one) who stayed for two years would have been a real bonus. I agree with Noble and others who say that far more should be done to retain the really good teachers.

I also think Philoslothy's point is a good one. There is a lot about teaching that makes it attractive, but so often it's portrayed as a vocation that people go into despite the working conditions, and that's not much of an incentive to give it a try.

chibi Sun 02-Mar-14 09:52:53

i am not worried that it is caused by tf

i am disappointed that a program that purports to send highly qualified, bright well trained teachers into challenging schools sends in people who have not studied their subject post a level

i know i must sound like a total weirdo, but i think kids deserve better than that. i wonder if other posters would want better for their children?

i also think that money invested in improving the teaching skills of teachers who are already in post.

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 10:29:24

The turnover rate isn't quite that dramatic! Teachers who are experienced and established tend to stick around. A scheme which sets out to make teaching a temporary commitment is, I think, wrong. The issue if retention does need to be addressed. I do love my job and at present, can't think of any reason why I would leave it. I'm certainly not a martyr but I do think that most good teachers get involved with their work - emotionally as well as professionally. How can you spend time with these children and not? So to see it as a temporary stop-gap which will look good on your cv when you're applying for "proper" jobs is wrong IMO, on a number of levels. The "at least they had a clever/well educated/aspirational teacher for 2 years" argument is a duff one.

TheBeautifulVisit Sun 02-Mar-14 11:07:15

Yes. We definitely need to pay teachers more. Much more. It 's the sole reason for the ever widening gulf between state and independent education. If the worst schools attracted the best teachers. they would no longer be the worst schools. And perhaps some of excellent teachers languishing in cushy little private schools would be tempted to move to the state sector?

And perhaps we could then going back to the days when teachers commanded respect and the profession conferred a certain status.

And then perhaps people would cease to opt for independent schooling. It's so obvious really.

SaturdaySuperstore Sun 02-Mar-14 11:10:04

"i know i must sound like a total weirdo"

No chibi, you just sound like someone who is conflating two different issues. You need to start a new thread about the lack of non-specialist maths teachers and its consequences. I'll be fully behind you then!

It's just not a reason to slag off Teach First.

SaturdaySuperstore Sun 02-Mar-14 11:11:36

"A scheme which sets out to make teaching a temporary commitment is, I think, wrong"

But it isn't. It sets out to help people decided whether teaching is for them or not. Simples.

SaturdaySuperstore Sun 02-Mar-14 11:12:52

"Yes. We definitely need to pay teachers more. Much more"

Yep, agree. I think performance related pay will help.

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 11:17:54

saturday - no it doesn't. You need to do your research. And also, you need to stop being patronising. Consider whether anyone would support a scheme whereby graduates were offered two years of being a doctor in order for them to decide if medicine was for them. Wouldn't happen would it? People would object on the grounds that irreversible damage could be done during those two years. This is similar. It's a massive risk and IMO, causes damage to children and potentially to the teaching profession. I don't want my kids being taught by someone who sees teaching as an extended gap year. And if graduated are committed to teaching as a career, then they ought to be committed enough to realise it's not just something you can walk into and be instantly good at.

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 11:19:44

Oh dear, Saturday - you are naive. Performance related pay only helps where schools have enough money in the first place <bangs head on nearest wall> If a school has sod all money in the first place, then there simply isn't the money to pay teachers who are doing well.

noblegiraffe Sun 02-Mar-14 11:35:10

My school has had to get rid of teachers and support staff due to massive budget cuts (thanks, Tories). The remaining teachers have had to take on extra teaching commitments. The school is scrabbling for money where it can, selling our sports facilities to the public etc.
I can't see my request for a pay rise due to being a fab maths teacher going down particularly well.

SaturdaySuperstore Sun 02-Mar-14 11:45:15

"Consider whether anyone would support a scheme whereby graduates were offered two years of being a doctor in order for them to decide if medicine was for them"

It's done in other professions, but not in medicine.

If the schools weren't getting good teachers from Teach First they wouldn't use it. Its voluntary.

"It's a massive risk and IMO, causes damage to children and potentially to the teaching profession"

What evidence do you have that it's causing damage? The risk exists, but is mitigated by close supervision and evaluation. Presumably the evidence is in favour of the scheme continuing, or it would stop.

You just don't like the idea of it but clearly know very little about it.

SaturdaySuperstore Sun 02-Mar-14 11:46:52

"Performance related pay only helps where schools have enough money in the first place"

Obviously I agree that schools should be given enough money to do their job properly.

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 11:52:41

Saturday - I suspect I know a hell of a lot more about it than you do, having worked with TF "teachers" (a long time ago, admittedly, but they were both dreadful, and left after one year) and having supported my babysitter through her application (which I did objectively, but was a bit shock at the things she was asked to do in her interview)

Do you work in education Saturday? Do you have first hand knowledge of how the education system works? Do you have first hand knowledge of Teach First?

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 11:53:59

Obviously I agree that schools should be given enough money to do their job properly

This is what it all comes down to really. If the government put more money into education, then schools would be able to pay teaching staff more in order to retain good and outstanding teachers, and much of these issues would be solved.

SaturdaySuperstore Sun 02-Mar-14 12:01:04

"Do you work in education Saturday?"

As I said upthread, I'm in Governance. I have no direct experience of Teach First, and no particular interest in it. I'm defending it simply because people are using poor arguments to criticise it.

The fact that you once knew 2 poor TF teachers, and use that as a measure for the whole programme, is a case in point.

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 12:14:04

I guess that's two more than you know though....

The fact that I worked with two TF teachers some time ago is not my only basis for objecting - I think I've made that fairly clear throughout.

I don't think that TF warrants the praise it gets. Throwing recent graduates in to tough schools with hardly any training on the grounds that they are "top" graduates is ridiculous. The fact is that there are a great many well educated teachers in education, who work very hard and do not have the entitled-to-promotion attitude that TF seems to display (read their website - it's all about fast-track to management)

The "answer" is to make teaching a compelling career choice for well-educated graduates, not to sell it as a gimmick/extended gap year for 21 year olds who aren't quite sure what they want to do when they grow up.

TF is not the answer. I find it personally insulting, yes, that there is a suggestion that getting clever, well-educated people from good universities into teaching is a new thing, thought up by the TF people, and that selling it as a two-year commitment is the only way to do it. No - I did my PGCE at Warwick, along with other graduates from Warwick and some others (including Oxbridge graduates, one of whom (maths) had a Masters from Oxford) in 1997.

The retention rates speak for themselves

SaturdaySuperstore Sun 02-Mar-14 12:22:06

"I guess that's two more than you know though...."
I got an insight into the experience of 6 of them from watching the TV series. I also know people in the teaching profession who rate them highly.

It's not a competition Evil. You don't do your argument any favours by stooping that sort of level.

"not to sell it as a gimmick/extended gap year for 21 year olds who aren't quite sure what they want to do when they grow up"

That's a pretty patronising attitutude. Sounds like you've got a big chip on your shoulder. Everyone on this thread has agreed that the PGCE route produces great teachers too. The two schemes aren't mutually exclusive.

TheBeautifulVisit Sun 02-Mar-14 12:23:54

Teach First didn't ever intend for all of its participants to stick with teaching though. The way I read that chart is that the teaching profession has inherited a body of very well qualified teachers and it's a double bonus that some of them stick with teaching beyond their two year commitment.

Some people seem very bitter about the status of Teach First teachers.

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Sun 02-Mar-14 12:28:43

But they aren't well qualified are they? They aren't experienced so don't have the wealth of experience another teacher might bring. They're just as academically qualified as many current teachers.

It's exactly the arrogance or perception that a tf teacher is any better that is the problem.

SaturdaySuperstore Sun 02-Mar-14 12:33:15

"They aren't experienced"

Neither are PGCE students, until they gain QTS. Both are training. The TF training is more "on the job" and the PGCE training has more of a classroom element.

"It's exactly the arrogance or perception that a tf teacher is any better that is the problem"

They're not necessarily better. They've just come in from a different route. Horses for courses.

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Sun 02-Mar-14 12:40:41

I agree they should be treated like pgce students. We're not expected to be "grateful" for them, we train them, make allowances for them etc as they them go on to develop their career. It's not a bonus that we get them for 2 years!!

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 12:42:30

Totally agree goodness It's the assumption that the teaching profession should be thankful that suddenly there are decent graduates coming in to show us how to do it.

I wouldn't say I've a chip on my shoulder but yes, I do resent it somewhat. I am just as, if not better, qualified, than your average TF candidate (and was at point of entry to the profession) but I don't see anyone hailing me as the savious of the system. And in my very honest opinion, it is arrogant in the extreme to assume that 2 years in any profession makes you eligible for promotion in the way that TF suggests it is. I am a HOD (which is as high as I want to go) with 17 years of teaching experience. I became HOD after 6 years, having worked in two schools. Two years in in school does not make anyone an expert.

noblegiraffe Sun 02-Mar-14 12:44:44

That's an important point about teaching, experience is incredibly important. I look back on my first couple of years of teaching, and despite being well-qualified in my subject, enthusiastic and hard-working, I was nowhere near as good as I am a few years down the line.

Teaching isn't just about planning an interesting lesson and creating exciting resources, it's about dealing with children over the course of several years of their life.

An experienced teacher can look at a child in Y9 and advise them on the options knowing how similar children in Y9 have actually done, because they taught them in Y10 and 11. They can try different strategies with different children knowing what has worked for similar children in the past. They have experience of dealing with a wide range of children, a wide range of abilities and a wide range of SEN. They have taught the older siblings of a child and know the family.

Two years doesn't give you that. Two years is merely dabbling in teaching. Encouraging prospective teachers to see it as a short-term thing is doing a disservice to children.

One thing that struck me about the Tough Young Teachers programme was the maths teacher who left after a year. He had been encouraged to bond with his students, took that young lad on a shooting trip, got him to open up about his family, then fucked off. Just like all the other male role-models in that boy's life.

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 12:45:37

The difference saturday is that PGCE stupents are treated as trainees. TF teachers are treated as teachers. They have control of their own classes and are paid a salary. PGCE students work with a qualified teacher and the qualified teacher retains overall responsibility for the class.

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 12:46:04

Excuse the typos. Am making Yorkshire puds.

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Sun 02-Mar-14 12:46:53

Exactly evil twins. I'm ex oxbridge, many colleagues were. Lots of Russell group graduates. Some very good very experienced teachers with years of experience behind them. I'd go to them for inspiration and advice. Not a trainee!

TheBeautifulVisit Sun 02-Mar-14 12:49:56

Evil twins - What subjects and grades did you get at A level? Which university, what degree course and what class of degree did you come out with? And what do you now teach?

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Sun 02-Mar-14 12:54:30

As and oxbridge in my initial degree. A first in my second.

I'm a good teacher but not the world's best. Lots of very experienced teachers are less qualified than me but far better, more inspirational etc.

Experience really counts in teaching.

Similarly I agree re: disappearing after a year. Bring able to go through school without all your teachers choppimg and changing is a good thing.

tf teachers are essentially trainee students and should be seen as such!

TheBeautifulVisit Sun 02-Mar-14 12:55:12

I'd be happy for my children to be taught by any of those TF graduates on the TYT programme.

TheBeautifulVisit Sun 02-Mar-14 12:57:02

Goodness - what class was your Irish degree and from where and in what subject?

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 12:57:41

A levels in English Lit (A), Classics (A) & History (B) Went to Warwick and got a 2:1 in English & Theatre Studies (joint honour) then PGCE in English & Drama. Am now Head of Performing Arts at a school which fits right into the TF category (they're starting in my area in Sept 2014) having previously taught at one on the list in Central London.

TheBeautifulVisit Sun 02-Mar-14 12:57:49

Either answer or don't answer. Answering selectively is utterly pointless.

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 12:58:33

Why do you want to know? I have no issues sharing my qualifications.

AnaisB Sun 02-Mar-14 13:03:12

TF teachers are not paid a teacher's salary until year 2. (No-one said they were, but wanted to clarify anyway.)

The introduction of Teach First teachers into a school is associated with a boost in results. Presumably that's why schools continue to use them.

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 13:04:03

Can you point to evidence for that boost in results?

Philoslothy Sun 02-Mar-14 13:05:18

I have never been hailed as a saviour of education . I have never claimed to get better than a PGCE student, although apparantly I must be crap.

It is quite common IME for an NQT to move schools after two years and PGCE students almost always move on despite forging relationships with children. Are they ham

AnaisB Sun 02-Mar-14 13:05:38

There are a lot of very experienced teachers who are rubbish. Experience is important, but it isn't everything. (Of course neither are grades.)

AnaisB Sun 02-Mar-14 13:06:53
Philoslothy Sun 02-Mar-14 13:10:00

Are they harming children?

I never saw teaching as a gimmick.

I would be interested to see how different TF retention rates compare to the retention rates for PGCE students with 1st or 2:1 from top universities. Those candidates may have more options, more contacts and therefore may be more likely to leave regardless of their route.

I was never left in a room to fail children, I was under constant scrutiny and was intensively trained . I do recognise that the level of training depends on the school , however this is the same with PGCE students.

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 13:10:41

Philo course you haven't, but the TF website really does hail itself as the way to save state education. That's my objection. Individual teachers are just that - individuals. I worked with two PGCE students last year - one brilliant, one crap. If they were TF teachers, though, the kids being taught by the brilliant one would be fine, the kids being taught by the crap one would have had a shit year, and now a new bunch would be having a shit year. And she'd have been getting paid for it.

AnaisB Sun 02-Mar-14 13:11:05

I appreciate that although the research was carried out at Manchester University it was commissioned by Teach First so not ideal.

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 13:12:52

philo - there is nowhere in the TF literature that says they take grads from only good universities. In fact, I know that they don't. The only requirement is a 2:1. Doesn't matter if that's from Oxbridge or an ex-poly.

Philoslothy Sun 02-Mar-14 13:15:55

In my experience poor TF candidates quit or are forced out. I have seen schools be far more ruthless with TF candidates than PGCE students.

In fact I was warned about being too tough with PGCE students because I was informed by my own training experiences.

Anecdotal of course , but that is my experience.

AnaisB Sun 02-Mar-14 13:16:06

DH was a Teach First teacher. In his first year there was a small drop in grades, from his second year onwards grades were consistently better than previously. I admit that I am somewhat on the fence. Individual strengths and weaknesses are critical (as has been said upthread). Also, there are some very experienced teachers who have consistently bad results.

Philoslothy Sun 02-Mar-14 13:18:17

The TF candidates I worked with were all from top universities. I know they don't have to be, but I thought that would happen through the selection process. I was one of the early ones though, so it may have become less selective as it grew.

One4TheRd Sun 02-Mar-14 13:25:32

I have 'scanned' over this thread and I still feel the same way I did after watching the first episode of Tough Young Teachers! I would not want my daughter to be taught by any first time TF teacher. There were some children in the programme who had more then one of them as a teacher. A whole year of education in English and Maths, with a teacher who has had no classroom experience, and may turn out to be a bit crap, isn't something that sits well with me... more like an experiment.

TheBeautifulVisit Sun 02-Mar-14 13:26:13

Irish first. Damn you iPad.

Evil - I'd just be interested to know if your qualifications match the requirements for Teach First? Most teachers' qualifications certainly wold not. The deputy head at a local Primary school not far from me got DEU at A level in pretty hopeless subjects.

I gather the 300 points at A level, not including Gen Studies, and a 2:1 or better degree are the minimum level for application to TF. It is very very competitive (but less competitive for maths, sciences, comp for obvious reasons). The high status of the TF programme and their detailed selection process means they really can choose the people most likely to succeed on an accelerated teacher-training programme, from a very big, well-qualified field.. There are of course many truly excellent, well-qualified, dedicated and talented teachers who've come to teacher via non TF avenues, but the majority of teachers I've come across in state secondary schools aren't very impressive at all.

The fact that some teachers are bitter about TF ers having some status says it all really.

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Sun 02-Mar-14 13:30:19

Grove... is that you?

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 13:31:10

I'm interested in how you know that most teachers' qualifications aren't as high as TF requires.

Philoslothy Sun 02-Mar-14 13:31:13

I am sorry One4therd that you think I am not good enough to teach your children. I actually have some of the best results in my school, I seem to be good be good enough for them.

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 13:31:39

Anyway, I already said that mine did. Did you assume I was lying?

chibi Sun 02-Mar-14 13:32:03

is it so difficult to believe that anyone might have valid objections and concerns re:teach first?

apparently so- this is at least the second time someone has said posters with objections are bitter. now it is suggested that the bitterness stems from general incompetency and jealousy


Philoslothy Sun 02-Mar-14 13:32:16

At my school most teachers , if not all, have the same qualifications as a TF teacher, if a 2:1 is all they need.

noblegiraffe Sun 02-Mar-14 13:33:01

Anais, from your BBC link

"They found a significant correlation between participation in Teach First and improved pupil achievement, one to two years after the teachers start at the school."

As a maths teacher I feel compelled to point out that correlation does not equal causation. What else happened in these schools alongside hiring new teachers? Could it be that other measures to improve achievement were introduced at the same time? A school doesn't suddenly decide to sign up to a new recruitment programme in isolation, I suspect.

"Researchers used a complicated points system to measure this and concluded the average improvement equated to a third of a GCSE per pupil per subject."

But what about improvement in the subjects which the Teach First candidates were teaching? It sounds like they could be ascribing an improvement in maths results to a Teach First candidate teaching geography.

Perhaps the original research clears up these questions, or maybe, if it was commissioned by Teach First, not?

One4TheRd Sun 02-Mar-14 13:38:19

Well, I didn't think the English teacher, in particular, came across as a teacher that anyone would want for their child. She was put onto 'cause for concern' before the first term was finished! For someone's child that meant a whole term of, I think, Y8 English wasted. I would prefer to have a teacher who has had experience controlling and inspiring a group of teenagers over someone that has had none. Maybe if you had been filmed in your first term/year, I would have a different view.

noblegiraffe Sun 02-Mar-14 13:52:23

I've had bad PGCE students in my department. The difference between them and from what I saw of Meryl on the program was that the PGCE student had far fewer classes, for a far shorter period of time, therefore their impact was substantially lessened. When the relationship between a PGCE student and a class broke down, as Meryl's did with her bottom set Y10, the class was removed from them and the normal class teacher restored. There are more options and back-ups with a PGCE student.

Tbh, I'm a bit hmm about a teacher with no experience being given a bottom set GCSE group to deal with on their own. Even an experienced teacher would have found that class tricky, I'm surprised that Teach First would allow it.

Philoslothy Sun 02-Mar-14 13:56:10

I thought that school was pretty shoddy all round to be honest . When I was on my TF placement if I struggled with a class I was supported. Just as any teacher would be supported when they are struggling.

I thought it spoke volumes that the children didn't behave when the head was in the room. Poor TFTC candidates seemed to be the least of their problems.

One4TheRd Sun 02-Mar-14 13:57:42

You put it far better then me noble... I didn't enjoy watching it at all. As a parent of a13yr old, it made me worry slightly. I found myself asking her if she had heard of TF or if she had any TF teachers! She has a science NQT who seems very very good.

AnaisB Sun 02-Mar-14 14:09:27

noble of course you are right. We'd need to read the research in more detail to see what extra variables were controlled for.

Givemeabreakimtryingmybest Sun 02-Mar-14 14:13:42

This thread is making me laugh! IME, even the worst TF candidate can outshine a run of the mill PGCE student. The requirements for TF go far beyond a 2:1 from Oxbridge or Russell Group universities. The selection process is ruthless and only those who are resilient enough to cope succeed to the programme.

The BBC documentary - as will any such documentary - does not give the full picture. The 6 weeks' training given is far more valuable and effective than anything the regular PGCE route can offer. That is not to say that traditional route teachers are less able - but the results are certainly mixed: in my school there were 5 NQTs (i.e. fully trained and qualified) and 2 TF (6 weeks's training and never taught before): who struggled and failed to deliver on targets, who never contributed to the wider school life, who struggled to produce any lesson plans let alone effective ones despite being on lighter timetables and not having any of the academic learning to cope with on top of the full time day? Not TF. They are not unsupported as you might have gathered from the documentary.

And OP - no, I can agree that having your child taught by someone who is deemed cause for concern is not ideal - but the same can occur for regular NQT's - in fact probably more regularly. The difference being that calibre of the TF teacher means that they will go that extra mile to succeed and to make sure that the students do not suffer. Everyone has to learn, and therefore there will always be glitches in the quality of education at any given point in the process. But at least with a TF teacher you know that the quality will shine through in the end. In my school there are 3 teachers in my department who are "highly experienced" - and highly useless. (They have been there for years and offer nothing of any value to their students. If you thought the English teacher in the documentary was inadequate, you would have rather your children be taught by her than by any of these ones - at least she had an intelligent brain). And there is 1 TF teacher who has been graded outstanding. In his first year.

IMHO it is a fantastic programme that delivers - the kids that are taught by these young people are phenomenally lucky. Elitist? Unashamedly, yes. And long may that continue. Because the children are benefitting massively. Not because of the educational background - there are plenty of highly qualified teachers from other programs - but the commitment to addressing educational disadvantage permeates all that they do. I totally understand the fear that has been aroused but the documentary did not do the programme justice. Sorry for the ramble.

cricketballs Sun 02-Mar-14 14:16:07

read through this thread with interest as I entered through a different route as my degree included QTS and I spent 2 years of my degree gathering school experience whilst also gaining my subject knowledge.

I think my route is one that should be adopted more. As I had several placements with increasing amounts of lessons to teach I was able to observe far more, learn far more in the practical environment that I have ever witnessed a PGCE student.

I was very concerned watching the programme (I do realise it was heavily edited) that these young people were basically thrown in the deep end, with huge responsibility with such little training. I can't comment on reality as we have not had any TF in the schools I have worked in.

And I would qualify with my qualifications to join TF!

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 14:18:14

Sorry, Givemeabreak but that's absolute bollocks. My fantastic PGCE student last year was worth 10 Meryls.

And get your facts right - nowhere in the TF literature does it say that it takes only Oxbridge/RG grads.

As with everything, it comes down to individuals.

cricketballs Sun 02-Mar-14 14:19:05

NQTs are not fully qualified as your have to pass your NQT year in order to continue to teach. NQTs are given lots of support and additional CPD to an experienced teacher as well as a mentor and reduced timetables

Frusso Sun 02-Mar-14 14:27:01

Plenty of NQTs get eaten alive Op. Having a pgce under their belt doesn't protect them.
Good support and classroom management skills can, and alot of this is learnt on the job.
I've seen a few fully qualified teachers loose control of/struggle to control a class.

TheBeautifulVisit Sun 02-Mar-14 14:30:54

I'd be very happy for my children to be taught by Meryl. I wish I could say that about all teachers I've encountered during my years as both a parent and a student.

SaturdaySuperstore Sun 02-Mar-14 14:35:29

Meryl was taken off "cause for concern" in the end. She made a big improvement through the intensive support she was given.

She was still batty though :-)

Curioushorse Sun 02-Mar-14 14:42:06

I work in a school which has a lot of tf students. I hate the programme:

1. it masks the problem that we can't get proper teachers in to inner london.
2. they're not more qualified than other teachers.....but have been led to believe they are. This does cause divisions.
3. They're as bad as you'd expect somebody with very little training to be, but are in charge of somebody's education. Very unfair on the kids.

The statistics are interesting. Of our many tf students, I reckon about half stay in teaching at the end of the two years (about a quarter never make it past thefirst year), but a very very large proprtion of those go into the private sector. The ones that remain are generally brilliant......but it's a tiny proprortion. Loads seem to go on to work for tf.

AnaisB Sun 02-Mar-14 14:43:44

I think schools tend to use TF when they are struggling to recruit - i.e. the alternative might be a string of supply teachers. (This is based on 5 year old knowledge so practises may well have changed now.)

I'm not totally convinced that Oxbridge education is important, so I'm not sure why it has been so emphasised. For what its worth proportion of Oxbridge candidates in DH's year was about 25%.

TheBeautifulVisit Sun 02-Mar-14 14:46:53

Curious - your points 1 and 2 are at odds. Either you can attract well qualified/proper teachers or you can't, no? Presumably if the teachers you're getting aren't proper then TFers are more qualified?

TheBeautifulVisit Sun 02-Mar-14 14:48:59

I think it's probably a good thing that so many teachers dislike/hate the TF programme. We need the current lazy arse system to be disrupted.

noblegiraffe Sun 02-Mar-14 14:56:51

I'd be very happy for my children to be taught by Meryl.

confused You mean the cause for concern Meryl with the utterly chaotic classroom and no control over the students? Seriously??

Or do you mean Meryl a year down the line when she hasn't just been dropped in the deep end with very little training and not very good support?

People here have mentioned the 6 weeks intensive training at the start as being very good. The issue I have there is that it is all theoretical. You can learn your Piaget and whatnot over the summer holiday, but you can't really learn how to plan an effective lesson when you aren't actually immediately teaching those lessons and reflecting on how they went. You can't learn to manage behaviour effectively until you are having to manage behaviour. On my PGCE we had a lot of lectures before we were put into schools, but once we were in schools we at least had the time to learn how to plan, mark, assess alongside teaching classes because we started off fairly gently. I can't imagine having been put straight onto an 80% timetable. There just aren't enough hours in the day on that timetable for the teaching and the learning how to teach which requires you to be on the job.

One4TheRd Sun 02-Mar-14 15:00:59

I'm not sure I would be happy with Meryl 10 years down the line!

What current lazy arse system is that then? Have you been reading The Daily Wail?

You would not believe how hard most of the teachers I know work, both TF and non-TF. Many of the staff at my school are in by 7.30 everyday and many don't leave until 6.00 (I must admit, I am always out by 5 but am often in before 7.30).

noblegiraffe Sun 02-Mar-14 15:06:45

The lazyarse system where according to DfE figures, primary school teachers work on average 59 hours a week and secondary teachers work 56.

So very lazy.

thecatfromjapan Sun 02-Mar-14 15:09:11

I have to throw this in ...

I agree that it is crazy to pitch people in front of a class with no experience.

So why is it that this really does happen, already, on a routine basis? I'm not talking about Teach First, or the truly alarming Schools Direct (which worries me a lot more than TF). I mean the fact that graduates, still in the midst of their degrees, are paying for their courses by working as temps and covering secondary school classes. Yes, I know that they are supposed to pitch up and follow the careful plan left by the real teacher. But we know that doesn't happen all the time.

I think that situation is worse than TF.

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 15:20:52

cat - I don't have any experience of that, but if you mean that they're doing that as cover supervisors, then that's a different kettle of fish entirely. For a start, they have no direct responsibility for the class - planning, marking etc is done by the actual class teacher.

It's not ideal, but not in the same league as actually handing over responsibility for the progress of students to someone with no experience/training.

TheBeautifulVisit Sun 02-Mar-14 15:28:33

"National and international evidence tells us that teachers’ level of prior education is directly linked to standards of attainment of their pupils [Wossman (2003)]. The more knowledgeable the teacher, the better able the pupil is to learn. Degree class is also a good predictor of whether a trainee will complete their course and achieve QTS."

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 15:36:54

Not arguing with that, beautiful but I don't know what it has to do with this thread, given that it's already been mentioned a number of times that there is no reason to believe that TF teachers are automatically better educated than other teachers

TheBeautifulVisit Sun 02-Mar-14 15:50:25

Evil twins - no one said they were automatically better educated than other teachers, but I think we can agree that TF are educated to a standard well above the mean of the entire teaching profession. Give me a well-educated teacher over a teacher who is passionate about pedagogy any day of the week.

ChocolateSnowflakes Sun 02-Mar-14 15:52:10

Beautiful what use is it being well-educated if you're not "passionate" enough about pedagogy to understand the most effective way to pass that education on to children?

I know some allegedly excellent teachers whose subject knowledge is shockingly poor but who get away with it by meticulous planning and by avoiding top sets. I know a couple of others with first class degrees in their subject but who really, really struggle in the classroom.

The best teachers will have good subject knowledge and be able to apply what they've learned about pedagogy and have presence too. If just one of those is missing, pupils will be short-changed.

chibi Sun 02-Mar-14 15:58:00

it is disheartening that this is presented as a battle of subject knowledge vs pedagogy. both matter. too many teachers (yes, even TF) are teaching subjects that they themselves have not studied post a level.

it isn't good enough.

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 16:01:08

TheBeautiful No, I don't agree. I don't think that TF are better educated. Just because TF are the first to say that candidates have to have a 2:1 does not mean that previously PGCE courses were not selective.

This is part of the problem- the assumption that TF teachers are bound to be better educated. Rubbish.

manicinsomniac Sun 02-Mar-14 16:25:58

I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with TF. If it didn't work then it would have been pulled by now.

The Tough Young Teachers programme made me cringe but only as I looked back with horror on my own PGCE/NQT time and thanked God nobody was filming my incompetency to air on national television.

Everyone learns. I don't think the classroom fiascos we witnessed were related to them being TF, they were related to them being young and inexperienced. Which all new teachers are. A PGCE doesn't suddenly make you wonder-teacher.

I qualified as a teacher 8 years ago. I have 5 As at A Level (in English Literature, History, Theatre Studies, Psychology and Dance if it matters) and a 2:1 from Durham University. I was required to have a 2:1 to stay on at Durham for PGCE so it isn't just TF that needs 2:1s.

My high qualifications counted for precisely nothing. I was shit, quite frankly. A class of 7 and 8 year olds ran rings round me. I dragged myself through PGCE and went on to teach Music, Drama and Dance in an inner city school where I continued to be spectacularly shit. I cried myself to sleep most nights and became more and more mentally unstable (that wasn't due to teaching, but it did make it worse). I had no class control at all. Children swore at me, shouted over me, left my lessons whenever they fancied, laughed at me and generally did as they pleased. As soon as a member of SMT walked into the room they transformed into angel children. My self esteem was in shreds. I failed my first term of NQT and then got more support to improve.

8 years on I am a good teacher. I'm not going to kid myself that I'm the best classroom practitioner in the world but I do well. The thought of having my first two terms filmed, aired and immortalised as my teaching ability forevermore makes my blood run cold.

TheBeautifulVisit Sun 02-Mar-14 16:51:48

manicinsomniac - nice post.

As a matter of interest, when teachers apply for a first teaching post, is it evident where they studied their first degree and PGCE or is it like medicine where first Foundation Years doctors apply med-school blind?

SaturdaySuperstore Sun 02-Mar-14 16:56:19

manic - all credit to you for sticking with it.

I admire all (good) teachers ... for their teaching ability, not their qualifications. I've got a degree in physics, and would love to be able to teach, but I just don't have the personality or resilience for it. That's why I'm in governance instead :-)

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 17:01:42

TheBeautiful - it's obvious because it goes on the application form along with other qualifications. Schools are fully aware of degree classification and when and where someone trained.

manic - great post thanks

TheBeautifulVisit Sun 02-Mar-14 17:50:39

EvilTwins - do you think it happens that decision makers (I'm unusure who makes the decision as to whether to hire someone) are arse-guarding? So that a well-educated candidate (someone with a 2:1 from Durham and then a Durham PGCE for example) gets rejected in favour of someone from the interviewer's ex-poly (or equivalent) and a less impressive educational profile?

TheBeautifulVisit Sun 02-Mar-14 17:52:07

I think teacher recruitment should be centralised. Perhaps it is though.

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Sun 02-Mar-14 17:57:02

I mean this in the nicest possible way, BeautifulVisit, but what do you actually know about state schools? My knowledge is from being a parent of a child at one and formerly a school governor, so nothing like as in depth as a teacher's. From this, however, I believe that it's the governing body that makes appointments.

60 years ago when my mum finished her training as a primary school teacher in Scotland, she simply wrote to the local school board or whatever it was called to tell them she was about to qualify and from what I can make out they wrote back and said 'Report to School X on such and such a date'. Baby boom years.

EvilTwins Sun 02-Mar-14 17:57:51

I think it's more complex than that. In a teaching interview, a candidate has to teach as well as do the face to face interviews. At the application stage, I would imagine that a HT would go for the candidate with a) the best educational credentials and b) the most relevant experience. If the candidate is an NQT, then education would be important, plus the personal statement and the way in which the candidate addresses the job spec. At interview, the teaching is important, as is the way the candidate performs in the various interviews.

I have never applied for a job and not been invited to interview - perhaps my A Level results and degree can account for that. Since my first teaching job (which was my 4th interview I think) I have never applied for a job and not got it.

TheBeautifulVisit Sun 02-Mar-14 18:12:35

AllMimsy - I mean this in the nicest possible way, but why are you asking me what I actually know about state schools?

TheBeautifulVisit Sun 02-Mar-14 18:13:59

EvilTwins - I'm pleased to hear it. smile But who is the arbiter of who gets the job? Is it the head?

noblegiraffe Sun 02-Mar-14 18:18:43

On the panel that interviewed me was the head, a member of slt, a governor and the head of maths. Also involved in selection was the maths teacher who observed the lesson I taught. In other schools, a student panel may be involved as well.

I think it's inconceivable in those circumstances that the decision could be based purely on where the HT went to uni. They aren't even involved in who gets shortlisted at my school.

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Sun 02-Mar-14 18:31:09

Because you said you didn't know who appointed teachers and wondered if it was already centralised. I was surprised by that, frankly, and also by the idea that really bright people might be passed over because of defensiveness from the interviewers. All the schools I have had anything to do with have been falling over themselves to get the best candidates. Maybe you meant who decides who gets onto initial teacher training, but even then several people on this thread have described how they were selected for that.

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Sun 02-Mar-14 22:39:21

We Rejected a Cambridge candidate in favour of quite frankly a better teacher from a different uni.

beautiful - what is your involvement with schools....?

noblegiraffe Sun 02-Mar-14 22:48:15

I'm not sure Beautiful should be taken seriously since she said she'd be happy for her children to be taught by Meryl.

One4TheRd Mon 03-Mar-14 06:29:02

Thanks for that Monday morning giggle Noble...Amen!

TheBeautifulVisit Mon 03-Mar-14 07:58:54

Noble giraffe - There was nothing wrong with Meryl's teaching. The fault was entirely with the ill disciplined children she was attempting to teach. My children are bright and well-disciplined and would have no difficulty appreciating Meryl's teaching. She just had to learn crowd control sadly.

Thymeout Mon 03-Mar-14 11:01:17

Merryl - not just crowd control.

I thought her behaviour with the gymnast she was mentoring was a bit off. Far too informal and wanting to please.

I thought the Science teacher at Crown Woods probably had the best classroom manner. A pity she alienated the Queen Bee pupil at the start, but easily done and she did manage to turn it around.

Re interviews and who gets to decide. In my area, governors choose the HT but, speaking as a gov, we would sit in on interviews for staff and advise but it's the HT who makes the final decision. The views of the HoD probably carry most weight.

noblegiraffe Mon 03-Mar-14 11:04:21

Astonishing that you have judged there was nothing wrong with Meryl's teaching despite the series showing very little. Those that did see her teach judged her cause for concern.'
I expect you thought there was nothing wrong with Claudenia's teaching either, and that her group were just ill-disciplined too. Yet when she was observed it was apparent that a major problem was the class didn't understand what they were supposed to be doing. Despite her being a 'top graduate' wink

TheBeautifulVisit Mon 03-Mar-14 11:18:02

Noble giraffe - perhaps it was her crowd control that gave cause for concern. It seems to be a big part of teaching in some schools.

TheBeautifulVisit Mon 03-Mar-14 11:21:12

Who was the science teacher at Crown Woods? Wasn't that Claudenia. I thought Claudenia was rather shouty. And of the TF teachers on the program I would have least liked her to be my children's subject teacher.

I thought Nicholas was the best and he left after just one year. Shame.

TheBeautifulVisit Mon 03-Mar-14 11:34:33

Interesting reading.

noblegiraffe Mon 03-Mar-14 13:58:10

Beautiful, you are speculating that if her behaviour management wasn't all over the shop, her teaching would be fine. We never really saw her teach so I've no idea what you are basing that upon, apart from maybe blind support for Teach First. She might be fine, she might be like Claudenia, or the lad who taught business BTEC who struggled to break their instructions down so that the kids could understand them. That doesn't mean they won't eventually be good, it means they need support with planning and teaching. Support that a PGCE student would find it easier to access. FGS Claudenia had to ask another trainee to observe her to figure out her issues.

TheBeautifulVisit Mon 03-Mar-14 14:51:11

Noble - you need to read the link from the TES above.

TheBeautifulVisit Mon 03-Mar-14 14:56:42

And is it correct then that different state schools have different recruitment policies? Wouldn't it be more sensible for all teachers to be recruited by a County panel? They could then be registered as approved and then free to apply to schools in that County. Much less scope for peculiarities and abuse of power.

noblegiraffe Mon 03-Mar-14 15:03:02

I did read the link from the TES, it was all about how Meryl should have been supported in her behaviour management. I entirely agree that the support she received was inadequate and have commented on that elsewhere on MN.

But we still didn't see Meryl teach. We didn't really see any of them teach. We saw them interacting with problem pupils etc, but we didn't really see them explaining a tricky topic to a class, questioning the pupils, or bringing along their understanding. I'd have liked to have seen the maths teacher teaching, out of professional curiosity smile

TheBeautifulVisit Mon 03-Mar-14 17:20:31

Noble giraffe - ah OK. So you're not saying Meryl's a crap teacher then. I didn't see anything on that prog that made her a crap teacher.

I went to a state school and our history teacher was a really shit teacher though kept good control of the class (he was also a god friend of my father) and as a consequence I know no history. It's a gaping hole in my basic knowledge. Versus geography where the teacher was superb although sometimes lost control of the class. In spite of not having studied geography since O level, I could still sketch a good diagram of an ox-bow lake, describe the Triassic, Jurassic & Cretaceous cliffs on the Jurassic coast. I remember his lessons almost verbatim. Good teaching does make such a big difference.

I'd be a shit teacher. grin

TheBeautifulVisit Mon 03-Mar-14 17:23:01

Good friend.

noblegiraffe Mon 03-Mar-14 18:16:16

Meryl wasn't an effective teacher as she didn't have enough control of the class to teach them.

Claudenia wasn't an effective teacher because her lessons were confusing so the kids couldn't learn effectively.

The business guy was rated outstanding, yet his results were terrible - unclear what went wrong there.

Maths teacher appeared to be good (apart from wanting to foist his religious views on the kids) but quit.

Who else was there? The RE teacher and the blonde one. The RE teacher was clearly slumming it for a bit, I couldn't see him sticking with teaching. The blonde one seemed good, but she was in her second year.

Hardly a roaring endorsement of the scheme, given that their classes were stuck with them for the whole year, potentially a GCSE year.

EvilTwins Mon 03-Mar-14 18:40:04

The blonde one was too obsessed with C grades though. Progress is far more important. That whole "look at me - you got a C!" thing when she was giving out mock results annoyed me. Fine, unless he should have been achieving a B or an A. I also found her entitled attitude irritating - she felt that after 2 years, she deserved promotion if they wanted her to stay.

TheBeautifulVisit Mon 03-Mar-14 19:39:48

I'm sure lots of excellent teachers make similar mistakes in their first year of teaching, no matter what route they've come to teaching. Judging by those comments on the TES board, a PGCE teacher can have similar problems asserting authority in the classroom and suffer a lack of peer support.

Teaching is a very hard job, for very little money. Is it really any wonder it doesn't usually attract the best graduates? So getting those excellent graduates in huge swathes (TF cohort is growing) is an excellent idea. I don't think it matters if they only stay a year, two or three. Loads of women teachers take maternity leave and disrupt children's education, the will then take another maternity leave. And some never go back. And the staff retention rates probably aren't great in those tough schools in any case.

EvilTwins - I think Chloe was pleased for the students who'd exceeded expectations. That seems entirely reasonable to me.

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Mon 03-Mar-14 19:50:51

It may be very little money by City standards, but teaching salaries are, I believe, on a par with what's paid in other professions such as social work, nursing and various other healthcare disciplines (not medicine, which requires far longer training). When you then take into account the annual leave, it's an attractive option for arts and humanities graduates in particular. It is a hard job, though. I wouldn't last five minutes in the classroom.

TheBeautifulVisit Mon 03-Mar-14 19:57:28

Teaching pays insufficient money to afford a London lifestyle of any kind. Unless you bought your house in 1984. Teachers used to be able to live in London.

The biggest problem is that TF trainees are an enormous responsibility to their mentors, who are often HoD, or another role too. If the TF person only stays for two years, that's massively wasteful of the mentor's already stretched time. Better to have an NQT and nurture them to stay 4/5 years, rather than a TFer who's using it as a step up to the City (many don't but some do).

As I said before though, it CAN work with the right TFer in the right place!

EvilTwins Mon 03-Mar-14 20:16:07

TheBeautiful you are showing your lack of understanding yet again. The grades are less important than the amount of progress, and the obsession with C grades is, at best, outdated.

The other point you miss spectacularly (again) is that whilst PGCE students make mistakes, they are seen as students and are not being paid a salary. They do not have responsibility for the class. A TF teacher does get a salary and does have responsibility for the class. This is one of the problems, IMO. TF is saying that these inexperienced teachers are capable of instantly taking full control. At least with PGCE there is an expectation that the trainee is there to learn, not that they can already do it.

noblegiraffe Mon 03-Mar-14 20:18:01

Yes a PGCE student may well make those mistakes. They are very common. The difference is that a PGCE student will not be taking the class for a full year, and also, crucially, the PGCE student will have the normal class teacher working alongside them the whole time. The class teacher will be in lessons with them at the start, checking their planning, stepping in with behaviour management. They can do this effectively because they are 'free' when the PGCE student is taking their class. As the Teach First trainees were in charge of their own classes, support would depend on the teaching commitments of the other teachers.

I was astonished that it apparently took till after Christmas (if the show timings were accurate) for Meryl to implement a seating plan that split up the naughty kids. Claudenia didn't seem to get the feedback that her explanations were confusing for even longer. A PGCE student would have not just been left to it like they were.

TheBeautifulVisit Mon 03-Mar-14 20:26:17

Evil So are you saying a PGCE teacher won't teach a class on their own? That their lessons are always supervised?

A PGCE teacher may be left alone for a while, but the class remain the responsibility of the class teacher, therefore it is in the class teacher's interest to keep a close eye on things. I used to nip out and leave PGCE students for twenty minutes, but the students always knew I'd be back!

TheBeautifulVisit Mon 03-Mar-14 20:45:16

Remus - when you nipped out for 20 minutes, what were you doing then? Didn't you have your own classes to teach?

PGCE students work with current teachers and their existing classes - so the PGCE student would be teaching my class. I didn't really go anywhere in particular - sometimes just a walk down the corridor - to give them chance to establish themselves with a class without me staring at them all the time! But I was always near enough to support/pick things up again as needed.

TF are pretty much on their own for most, if not all, of their lessons, from the word go.

EvilTwins Mon 03-Mar-14 21:16:36

Beautiful please READ the posts.

TheBeautifulVisit Mon 03-Mar-14 21:17:25

Remus - Ah thanks. I didn't realise PGCE teachers job-shared in effect. Thanks for explaining.

They don't job share. They go on school placements, like work experience. The class teacher is in charge, and helping the PGCE student. The class are the teacher's responsibility and if the PGCE student struggles, it's the class teacher's role to support/liaise with the uni etc.

EvilTwins Mon 03-Mar-14 21:22:00

A PGCE student doesn't job share. Whilst on placement (for a few months) a PGCE student will teach lessons which would normally be taught by the usual class teacher. The normal class teacher supports, team-teaches, oversees assessment etc In secondary, this might mean a PGCE student working with several different teachers, depending on how the timetable has been organised. At the end of the placement, the class reverts to the original teacher, who has retained overall responsibility throughout.

With TF, the TF teacher has his/her own timetable, with overall responsibility for those classes.

Philoslothy Mon 03-Mar-14 21:22:07

I do think that the BBC programme was a poor representation of TF.

I was constantly monitored and held to account. I could never have had chaotic lessons for weeks on end.

I was a shockingly shit teacher when I started and I am now a good enough teacher. I have a string of outstanding observations , both internal and from OFSTED. I have fantastic results and have been nominated for national awards as well as rising to senior leadership. That is not down to any kind of innate talent or a sense of vocation. it is down to the training I received.

If the TF programme was a poor one, I would have been one of its casualties.

noblegiraffe Mon 03-Mar-14 21:40:10

Philoslothy, I'm intrigued, could you give a bit more detail about any aspect of your TF training in particular that lead to you being nominated for awards etc?

Philoslothy Mon 03-Mar-14 21:45:54

I was never allowed to be crap or even mediocre. I was constantly pushed to be better and better. I observed some amazing teachers and stole lots from them. I was made to work insane hours to keep up with the workload and being quite lazy I thought about quitting endlessly but it built up my work ethic and energy levels.

noblegiraffe Mon 03-Mar-14 22:24:22

Doesn't everyone work insane hours on teacher training?

Not much evidence of the rest on that programme.

I'm surprised that you think it was your training that has made you so successful, surely the ruthless entry criteria/interviews etc that people have mentioned were designed to spot your 'innate talent'? Weren't you supposed to be special?

Philoslothy Mon 03-Mar-14 23:17:41

I never said that other trainees don't work insane hours. I am trying to recall events from almost a decade ago and that is my main memory, working every hour from waking until going to sleep. I think the fact that I agreed to work those hours when I became a teacher looking for an easy life speaks volumes for the people I was working with.

I benefitted from the feeling that I was doing the job rather than being a student. I felt like I had to get it right every quickly because I was being paid to do the job. I was also very aware that if I did not get it right, I would be sacked.

I am quite a tough cookie and my TF experience was at times brutal and tough and would not be for everyone. I was shouted at I did have books thrown back at me and told to mark them again. I was at times thrown in at the deep end , but was never left to drown. Although I felt a pressure to get it right because I was being paid, looking back I was treated like a trainee. I did spend time with my mentor every day. Every week my marking was thoroughly checked, staff were in and out of my lessons all of the time. I had to hand in lesson plans in advance and received feedback on that before teaching my lessons.

I think I said above that when I was training PGCE students I was told that I was too tough but is only sought to replicate my own training experience. I have seen some departments work with PGCE students and because they move on in a few months they have not been as tough as they should, thinking they will be moving on soon anyway. I was at my school for 2 years and therefore was not going anywhere quickly, it was in there interest for me to be as good as possible as quickly as possible. I could not be moved on in a few months. Although training experiences vary according to the school or even the department within the school.

I was constantly watched and monitored - and that may reflect that fact that I needed a very steep learning curve. By the end of the first year I was transformed and by the end of the second year I was the kind if teacher that I would want for my own children.

As for me not being special - there is not much I can say to that. I am not special but I am quite good at interviews. I managed to get into a "special " university despite being quite ordinary. I have also been quite lucky in my time. However the fact that I have stayed in teaching for almost ten years and done well suggests they made the right choice.

noblegiraffe Mon 03-Mar-14 23:41:51

I think you do yourself a disservice with your claims of being nothing special.

I've also seen you claim that anyone of reasonable intelligence can teach - having seen quite a few people attempt and fail, I'm not sure I agree.

Was it Teach First shouting at you and throwing books back at you, or was it the school you were in?

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Tue 04-Mar-14 07:10:45

Beautiful, you say Teaching pays insufficient money to afford a London lifestyle of any kind. Unless you bought your house in 1984. Teachers used to be able to live in London. This is not a problem unique to the teaching profession.

TheRoadLessTravelled Tue 04-Mar-14 07:21:43

The thing is, Harefield Academy is a fantastic school. I know loads of pupils and their parents and I've never heard a bad word said about it.

I think the only mistake they made was letting camera into the school.

The TF teachers my DCs have had have been good. Whereas I hate them (in primary) loosing oodles of teaching time being taught be trainee teachers who really don't have a clue. The fact they're supervised etc does not make up for the bad teaching my DC receives during their teaching.

We saw Meryl seriously struggle with a bottom set. Life is like that on bottom sets up and down the country. Her other sets weren't like that. Which is why they didn't show them.

My very wise DS thinks teachers get better once they've forgotten what they've been taught on their PGCE smile.

Certainly his TF English teacher was better than his current one.

Meryl takes the debating club at Harefield. Which is amazing because my DSs school can't get enough kids together for a debating club. So Meryl must be doing a lot right to have a debating club to run.

TheBeautifulVisit Tue 04-Mar-14 09:12:42

Really? Harefield is a fantastic school?

TheRoadLessTravelled Tue 04-Mar-14 09:38:10

Yes. Really.

They accept 15 students each year who are G &T in sport.
The competition for these places is so high that the majority of them represent the UK in sport. So you have 10% of the cohort who are extremely dedicated and hardworking in their sport. And generally they're like that in class too.

That HT on the program, who has now retired, took the school from about 9% passing GCSEs to about 60%. It is now a fantastic and inspiring school.

noblegiraffe Tue 04-Mar-14 10:15:26

I've just had a look at the DfE page for Harefield Academy. Ofsted said it was good in 2011. Their latest results are reasonable, although it stood out that only 4% of their high attainers achieved the ebacc and were only entered on average for 7 GCSEs. In contrast, high attainers at my school are entered for 9.

Also, I have taught my fair share of poorly behaved bottom sets. But if SLT were in the room they'd be as good as gold. I don't know many teachers who weren't utterly shocked at the behaviour while the head was in the room

rollonthesummer Tue 04-Mar-14 13:04:29

I don't know many teachers who weren't utterly shocked at the behaviour while the head was in the room

I completely agree. That says far more about the management of the school than it does about the student. I would have hated to do my training in that school!

Philoslothy Tue 04-Mar-14 18:49:05

I've also seen you claim that anyone of reasonable intelligence can teach - having seen quite a few people attempt and fail, I'm not sure I agree.
Having worked with PGCE students and NQTs the ones that fail tend to fall into the following camps.
1) They don't take advice
2) They don't work hard enough.
I really do think if you are willing to work hard and follow advice a reasonably intelligent person can teach and do a good job.

As I said I am not a teacher driven by a sense of vocation, I am not that talented and I am driven by a sense of wanting to get the job done as quickly as possible so I can indulge my real passions. I can't remember an observation recently which was not graded outstanding, it is just a case of reading the judgement criteria and putting it into action. I think to be a truly outstanding teacher is a different issue and they are much rarer.

Was it Teach First shouting at you and throwing books back at you, or was it the school you were in?
It was my school although from what I remember of my teach first mentor they were not full of the milk of human kindness either, you were just expected to get it right.

Philoslothy Tue 04-Mar-14 18:51:04

But if SLT were in the room they'd be as good as gold. I don't know many teachers who weren't utterly shocked at the behaviour while the head was in the room

I totally agree, when I walk in a classroom it falls silent , nothing to do with my abiity as a classroom manager but just because I am a senior teacher and in most schools that carries a level of respect with a touch of fear. I was very shocked that the children had so little respect for the headteacher.

TheBeautifulVisit Tue 04-Mar-14 21:18:08

Harefield don't even offer Further Maths A level. And their A level results show an average A level entry at grade D. And only 4% of its pupils get AAB including 2 core subjects. With above national average absence and above national average persistent absence. Blimey. If that's a good school I'm a Dutchman.

Thymeout Wed 05-Mar-14 08:43:53

No disrespect, Philoslothy, but I'm sure we're both aware that there isn't necessarily a correlation between getting an outstanding grade on an observation and being a good teacher. As you said, it's just a question of following the judgement criteria.

I know someone, rated as outstanding by Ofsted, who had actually got a 'cause for concern' from the HT over underperformance, aka skiving. She'd managed to get through 2 term's syllabus in 1 by doing most of the work orally to cut down on her marking. Not great, given she was an English teacher.

Philoslothy Wed 05-Mar-14 20:27:44

No disrespect, Philoslothy, but I'm sure we're both aware that there isn't necessarily a correlation between getting an outstanding grade on an observation and being a good teacher. As you said, it's just a question of following the judgement criteria.

That is exactly what I was saying, in my next sentence I then said that a truly outstanding teacher is a much rarer commodity and I have never claimed to be an outstanding teacher in reality. I am a good enough teacher, good enough is my speciality - I am a good enough wife and mother too. As I said intelligent people could be a good enough teacher. Being a good enough teacher is about just meeting the judgement criteria.

scott07 Fri 13-Jun-14 00:29:35

Reading through this thread I am shocked at the contempt held towards fellow teachers.

I am a TF teacher and teach secondary science. Addressing the claim that TF teachers are unqualified in their subject I have A Levels in Biology Chemistry and Physics, a first class degree in Genetics and a Masters in Biochemistry. From experience, the majority of TF teachers that I have came across have studied to a similar level as myself in their subject. Those who have not are addressing a shortage of teachers in their subject.

I am not denying that TF teachers are thrown in at the deep end. My first few months were an uphill struggle. This forced me to learn extremely quickly. Surely though every new teacher is in a similar position. They have no experience with that level of responsibility. The difference being that TF teachers are thrown in and teachers choosing other routes are more gradually eased in.

I disagree with the opinion being conveyed by some that TF teachers are 'posh' and 'arrogant'. I myself would definitely not be described as being from a privileged background. I have also never been arrogant in my role. At times I felt like a burden to fellow teachers. I was extremely aware that I was nowhere near as qualified as my colleagues. Despite this I have achieved excellent results in my role and hope to continue this in the future.

The skills needed to be an excellent teacher come with experience. TF offers this opportunity, the same as other routes into the profession. Everyone is working towards the same aim of excellent education. Different routes are chosen by different people. I think that people should have a more open mind towards TF teachers and treat them the same as any other person trying their best to teach.

lljkk Fri 13-Jun-14 09:07:53

ZOMBIE thread.
I think you're cherry picking the bits you most dislike, Scott07.

Luggagecarousel Fri 13-Jun-14 23:21:13

Not read the whole thread, but teach first is no different to a PGCE in the level of support and training,the only difference is they are paid!

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