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Lack of teaching qualifications in staff at Free Schools

(55 Posts)
gingeroots Mon 11-Mar-13 10:36:38

One in ten teachers working in Free Schools lack a formal teaching qualification .

Does this concern people ? Is it not unusual in private sector ?

Idea of a 27 year old with no teaching qualification ,no experience of teaching being the headteacher at a primary school certainly worries me .

As does this quote from Observer article
She has already said that she will ignore the national curriculum and teach lessons "inspired by the tried and tested methods of ED Hirsch Jr", the controversial American academic behind what he calls "content-rich" learning

gingeroots Mon 11-Mar-13 10:47:52

And if you'd like a glimpse at what a "content rich " curriculum might be like have a look at this from Caroline Nash .

^In September Pimlico Primary will open its doors to sixty reception-age pupils. As sponsor and chair of governors, what is my educational vision? I think, really, it is quite simple. I would like our pupils to know things: things that they won’t necessarily discover for themselves.

If you were to give a young child a paint box, a brush, water and paper and ask them to paint a picture, what would they discover? That water makes the paint wet, that the brush can only hold so much paint and that you need to keep dipping it back into the paint box, that the paint box soon gets in a mess and that the paper is soon filled up with a muddy puddle. Compare and contrast this with teaching a child about primary and secondary colours and how to mix them, explaining the colour wheel and showing how the use of complementary colours can enliven a painting. How much more a child would discover and how much more harmonious the painting would be.^

Caroline is the wife of John Nash ,sponsor of Pimlico Academy and now Lord Nash having been made an education minister .

prh47bridge Mon 11-Mar-13 10:59:21

It is not unusual in the private sector. Many independent schools employ teachers who do not have a formal teaching qualification.

It is also more common than you might think in the state sector. In 2009 there were 20,000 unqualified teachers at state schools, up from 3,000 in 1997. At least some of these are teachers trained overseas whose qualifications are not recognised in the UK but who are allowed to work for up to 4 years before gaining qualified teacher status. They are often able to become qualified teachers without further training.

Whether or not this is a good thing is an interesting question for which I don't have a simple answer, but I certainly have concerns about someone with no teaching experience becoming head of a primary school.

MsInterpret Mon 11-Mar-13 11:28:44

I think having Heads that are unqualified as teachers is not necessarily a bad thing as long as they are paired in the role with an experienced-in-teaching Head.

National shortage of Heads is in part because the job/remit of a Head is too huge now for one person. S/he has to wear too many hats and have In-depth knowledge of, amongst many other things, finance, legal issues, health & safety...the list goes on... In addition to being a visionary leader for the staff, pupils and wider school community. Looking at ways to address this, I think a teaching and non-teaching Headship partnership could be one possible solution.

muminlondon Mon 11-Mar-13 14:15:44

Firstly, this is a highly politicised appointment.

John Nash is an appointed board director of the DfE, Tory donor, founder and now non-Executive partner of Sovereign Capital, which until recently invested in a group of private prep schools among other interests. This firm also profited from £73 million in government contracts. He donated money to Andrew Lansley personally when the businessman was chairman of the private healthcare firm Care UK. He's obviously got a lot closer to government now (i.e. heading the DfE and trying to force through 1,000 redundancies without actually paying redundancy money or carrying out a proper consultation with the unions.

But aside from the political agenda of privatisation and asset stripping of the state, the cronyism and conflict of interests...

... who would choose to send their children to a school run by a Tory think tank director with no educational qualifications?

muminlondon Mon 11-Mar-13 16:11:36

Some interesting insight into the links between the Curriculum Centre, right wing think tanks and the DfE is here - from one of the comments on the article the OP refers to:

(He also points out that this new head advised Michael Gove on the new primary curriculum but is now going to ignore it - that is weird isn't it?

Bonsoir Mon 11-Mar-13 16:15:17

I think that teaching qualifications are overrated, personally. Brains and experience are a lot more valuable than a teaching qualification.

scaevola Mon 11-Mar-13 16:19:26

I am surprised that the figure is so high.

Is there a more detailed breakdown of what qualifications the staff have? For example - music teachers with a licentiate, games teachers with coaching qualifications, teachers with overseas qualifications, teachers with subject expertise and experience/qualification in FE (or military?) rather than schools, those with subject expertise and some other quality/experience that made them suitable for the classroom, and others?

Some of these I would have no problem whatsoever with them teaching my DCs. But not all.

gingeroots Mon 11-Mar-13 16:23:58

Good points scaevola and I agree with you - a formal teaching qualification is not the be and end all .

But a 27 year old head of a new primary with no teaching experience at all ?

Not ok in my book .

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 11-Mar-13 16:46:18

Every individual should be assessed separately - my two most inspirational teachers at school did not have a formal teaching qualification. They were both excellent teachers whose students achieved higher than expected grades due to their inspirational nature.

Bonsoir Mon 11-Mar-13 18:24:06

gingeroots - look at it another way - a 27 year old with no teaching qualification or experience will be entirely fresh and free of the malpractice, reflex and prejudice of someone who has been in the profession since university.

My DD's class teacher, who is in her late 30s, is new to the profession - she was an actress in a previous life. Since she is French and new to the profession, she hasn't had any teaching training so to speak of, though she passed an exam to test her knowledge of the primary curriculum. She is a a far, far better teacher than any DD has had so far, 6 years into school.

gingeroots Mon 11-Mar-13 19:38:27

But to be a head teacher ?

Manage other staff ?

I think you're very naïve Bonsoir .

HorribleMother Mon 11-Mar-13 19:58:12

I will file away the fact that Bonsoir had such a low opinion of her DD's teachers all this time.

Briggs wants qualified staff, though. I wonder why? Interesting that she's an American style Principal, too, not an HT. Why the language change?

Trivial fact, in about 1962 my uncle became the youngest school Principal in the state of California (age 26).

Bonsoir Mon 11-Mar-13 20:09:18

My DP was CEO of a chain of restaurants when he was 27... he cannot cook... (still a CEO - different company, lots more £££ - 20 years later).

gingeroots Mon 11-Mar-13 20:19:47

Yes ,that's the way forward .

Education is no different from business and what we should be looking for is managers who have the skills to maximise profit .

Bonsoir Mon 11-Mar-13 20:29:35

I don't think that is true and I don't support for profit chains of schools. That was not my point and you know it.

The teaching profession is unique and dangerous in that many people within it never leave the education system. That is a huge problem.

TheFallenMadonna Mon 11-Mar-13 20:36:16

Unqualified teachers can teach in state schools. We have a number and they are excellent. We are judged on results, and if you get them, then whether or not you have QTS is secondary. You do get paid more with QTS though.

I think I would want a Headteacher to have had at least some experience in schools though, because I would want to know that they had the know-how to ensure my child's success within the education system. A rapid rise for a talented person, regardless of age - I have no problem with that at all. But to lead a school with no experience of education is not desirable IMO.

Xenia Mon 11-Mar-13 20:50:43

I would never be keen on a new school for my children. I want one that has been one of the best for at least 30 years.

Also free schools are state schools so I would not want a child of mine at one of those on principle.

muminlondon Mon 11-Mar-13 23:07:20

Xenia, I think most other parents are of the same opinion as a quarter of free schools were significantly undersubscribed this year. Some free school applications have been initiated by parents frustrated by lack of school choice, but they still expect a mainstream curriculum, strong experienced head, well qualified staff and good facilities.

Yet thinktanks (who advocate profit-making) have repeatedly suggested relaxing planning permission, which could mean no outside space for infants or children taught in corridors, employing young/unqualified (cheaper) staff, and even having less rigorous inspection regime at the same time as trying out an untested curriculum. I don't believe for a second these thinktank directors or politicians would send their own children to such a school, and I don't know any parent who wants to have their children experimented upon in this way.

teachertrainer80 Tue 12-Mar-13 09:26:47

The question I have is how does a new graduate become deputy director of a think tank straight out of uni when many bright young graduates are struggling to even get entry level jobs and voluntary work? Who does she know/ who is she related to? This kind of thing happened when I worked in the charity sector. Desirable campaigns/ policy jobs just handed to the (straight out of uni) children of senior managers while those of us from working class backgrounds struggled in dull admin jobs with no prospects.

That's one of the reasons why I moved into to teaching as progress is based on merit and qualifications or so I thought. I find a lack of qualifications de-professionalises the teaching profession and means that people can just employ friends and family so it will become as unregulated as the private/ charity sector where it's not what you know, it's who you know...

gingeroots Tue 12-Mar-13 10:18:56

Good points teachertrainer and muminlondon.

I can hardly believe we've come to this .

muminlondon Wed 13-Mar-13 15:08:36

There's a Rupert Murdoch connection here too. The Sun sponsored a Saturday school in Wapping run by 'teacher' Anneliese Briggs's think tank where she patronised tutored children with her content-rich flip charts. Rupert Murdoch tried to set up an academy in Wapping then was in negotiation with his ex-employee Michael Gove over free schools. Michael Gove's former adviser and free school broker Rachel Wolf has joined Murdoch's US company Amplify which is aiming to sell IT and tablets to schools.

There's a critique of 'altruistic billionaires' and a picture of Murdoch (who owns the Wall Street Journal which encorages a saintly view) in a US magazine here:

creamteas Wed 13-Mar-13 22:30:54

Good teaching is a skill and like other skills some have a natural aptitude with can be honed through qualifications and some can gain the skill through being taught how to teach.

The idea that just anyone can turn up and deliver is nonsensical.

I also think it is ironic that just as universities are finally recognising they need to train people how to teach and insisting that all new lecturing staff gain qualifications that schools are being encouraged to go in the opposite direction....

lalalonglegs Wed 13-Mar-13 23:07:19

Are we sure she is only 27 - I've just googled her and she seems to have fitted an awful lot into the past six years since she presumably graduated. Also, her photo makes her look much closer to her husband's age (not meant bitchily) and apparently she co-founded a charity with her husband in 2006...

I think non-teachers can bring a lot to the role of head and I wouldn't be bothered about someone following/not following the curriculum necessarily (although I would want to know what they were planning to do instead) but her appointment reeks of cronyism.

muminlondon Wed 13-Mar-13 23:41:53

Graduated July 2008 according to this YouTube video. Co-edited a primary school textbook by Ed Hirsch for the UK market, full of facts to be memorised - published nearly two years ago. That apparently qualified her to advise Gove on the primary curriculum. My googling didn't get beyond that and the link to Murdoch!

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