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To ask if you think secondary teachers should have achieved top grades in their subject area

(272 Posts)
Teachersshouldbeclever Thu 19-Nov-15 17:56:46

I genuinely wonder how, if a secondary teacher was unable to achieve the top grades when they sat their subject, if they are able to teach their students the skills needed.

Or is it a case of the cleverest students actually surpassing their teachers' knowledge and expertise?

HighwayDragon1 Thu 19-Nov-15 17:59:43

You know to be a teacher you need a degree AND post graduate studies, right?!

OublietteBravo Thu 19-Nov-15 18:01:54

My biology teacher readily admitted he'd got a better grade in art than biology when he was at school. He was a great teacher - about half my class got As at A-level.

BoboChic Thu 19-Nov-15 18:03:29

If only...

Witchend Thu 19-Nov-15 18:08:30

My DF took A level maths at the sane time as his teacher. He got a B. His teacher got a D.

To be fair to the teacher, df was the first 6th former ever as he refused to change to the grammar to do them so did A-levels at his secondary modern which thought a few CSEs were brilliant.

bluebolt Thu 19-Nov-15 18:08:47

More interested on degree, I know many who didn't really engage until post 16. I also know a few people where a lower grade in not a good school took more effort than those people with a higher grade in a better school.

PlaymobilPirate Thu 19-Nov-15 18:09:17

I've worked with trainee teachers who have a Masters in their subject who were completely incapable of coming down to the level of secondary school students

For example - I'd asked a final placement student to teach an 'introduction to algebra' lesson. She dished out quadratic equations as her starter - asked them to solve them independently and line up in order of answers. To her that was an intro to basic algebra.

I've also seen excellent lessons taught be teachers who got a third in their subject.

catfordbetty Thu 19-Nov-15 18:09:39

I think you're right OP - teachers' subject knowledge can often be less good than one would wish. However, the best graduates from the best universities generally don't want to be teachers. The teaching 'profession' takes what it can get and, in some subjects at least, there isn't much, or indeed anything, to choose from.

Teachersshouldbeclever Thu 19-Nov-15 18:10:29

So teachers should actually have poor qualifications Pirate?

Namechangenell Thu 19-Nov-15 18:10:22

My old A level English teacher happily told us she'd got a grade E in her own English language A level. I don't know how she got her job as she was absolutely appalling. What was even more worrying was the fact that when a few of us complained to the head of English, he gave us permission not to attend her classes! I still got an A but it wasn't thanks to either of them...

cricketballs Thu 19-Nov-15 18:11:09

when I was at school I was the ultimate rebel; I traunted, had regular fights etc and just somehow scrapped 4 GCSEs at C; then I undertook an apprenticeship and grew up! Since then I have undertaken more vocational qualifications, A Levels and a degree.

To be honest, I think that as I didn't get top marks in school I have more to give than if I had been a straight A student

OneMoreCasualty Thu 19-Nov-15 18:12:37

Nobody said that, OP, but you asked for teachers to have top grades; many people with top grades use them to get high paying jobs.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Thu 19-Nov-15 18:12:47

There is a theory that kids education has suffered more than anything else from feminism. 90 years ago the only real career option for a bright girl was teaching so all the brightest girls wanted to be teachers and the colleges had the pick.

Now the brightest are off being doctors, lawyers, nuclear physicists etc. teaching is not seen as a "top career".

Teachersshouldbeclever Thu 19-Nov-15 18:13:02

That's what I'm interested in namechanger; it seems teachers help the middle of the road children and high fliers just achieve regardless.

NewLife4Me Thu 19-Nov-15 18:13:36

Tbh I think you are lucky if your school does have a specialist teaching the subject.
I know of several schools where they aren't.

I also believe that many parents expect too much from a state education that is there to teach the masses.
They are there to give a general education, that's all.

PlaymobilPirate Thu 19-Nov-15 18:14:20

Um - no, I didn't say, or mean, should

But excellent degrees does not equal excellent teacher.

Teachersshouldbeclever Thu 19-Nov-15 18:16:05

Absolutely it doesn't, but surely it should at least be part of the criteria for recruitment.

NewLife4Me Thu 19-Nov-15 18:16:01

Oh, and I took a level 2 Maths with my students who had also left school with nothing.
I have a PgCE.

ZedWoman Thu 19-Nov-15 18:16:08

In addition to all that's been said, budget cuts now mean that some teachers are timetabled to teach subjects way outside their specialism. My nieces A level biology teacher was a chemistry teacher with no biology qualification beyond A level.

High timetable loads and a slashed CPD budget mean that schools can't even send teachers on 'refresher' courses outside their specialism and teachers feel less and less inclined to spend all their weekends swotting up on a subject they may only teach for one year. In our school we have a science teacher teaching geography, several PE teachers teaching Engish, and an ICT teacher teaching history.

This situation is only going to worsen.

OneMoreCasualty Thu 19-Nov-15 18:19:30

Also - a levels could be different content anyway (eg different period of history) - I'm sure teachers make an effort to learn the relevant syllabus first!

rollonthesummer Thu 19-Nov-15 18:19:30


It may have passed you by, op-but there is huge recruitment and retention crisis in teaching at the moment. Schools can't get or keep teachers and the good ones are fleeing in droves because of the pointless workload.

Good graduates are and will be off getting well paid jobs in other careers- how would you entice them to be teachers?

backinthebox Thu 19-Nov-15 18:20:42

One of the cleverest mathematical brains I have ever met scored an E at A-level. It was established that it was down to not having been taught more than a few fragments of the syllabus thanks to atrocious school organisation and us having a new maths teacher every couple of months. He went on to do a maths degree and is by all accounts a brilliant maths teacher. (I was in the same class as him for maths and only managed an N - shhh! Don't tell my boss! Apparently I'm supposed to be brilliant at maths for my job.)

While top marks in exams are a good indication of someone's understanding of a subject, they are not the be all and end all.

OublietteBravo Thu 19-Nov-15 18:21:17

I got top grades at school. I also have enough self awareness to realise I'd be a terrible teacher.

IsItMeOr Thu 19-Nov-15 18:21:34

I think you are confusing "cleverness" and achievement of exam results. Personally I think you need teachers who are clever at teaching, which won't necessarily be reflected in any of the subjects examined at school-level.

I think it is also often the case that people who have had more of a struggle to learn concepts themselves are more aware of the steps that go into learning a thing, rather than super-bright people who just pick it up without really thinking about it. So what matters is how good they are at understanding the subject now, rather than years ago when they took their own school exams.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Thu 19-Nov-15 18:22:46

No. Someone at 16 might mess about in French and get a B, then do it a-level and do ok......carry on at degree level and do well. Even if they didn't do great in their degree it's still a higher level of knowledge than is needed for school.

Teaching ability is more important IMHO.

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