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Any A level teachers to clarify something for a primary colleague, please?(9 Posts)
Primary here, looking for help from those of you who teach A levels. My brother is doing teacher training (Computer Science at the equivalent age to A level / 6th form) in our home country and is working on an assignment, comparing education systems and training requirements in different countries.
In order to teach A levels in state schools in England, I presume QTS or equivalent is still a basic requirement? Or can you teach without?
Secondly, (I cringe slightly as I didn't realise the extent of my ignorance in this area until he asked me) how does the National Curriculum inform the A level syllabus for individual subjects -lots of talk of the 'syllabus', and 'teaching to the test' but not quite sure how NC / different exam boards / what is actually taught as an A level course, hang together. How much autonomy do teachers at this level have in terms of what they teach?
Could someone give me a brief outline, please?
For maths, the syllabus is set and the exam boards all set their assessments on the same content. The need for QTS is the same as primary. Academies and free schools don’t have to employ qualified teachers but the majority do.
The only subjects I know of at A level where teachers haven't followed conventional qualification routes are specialised/unusual ones such as law : but these staff usually achieve QTS within their first couple of years of teaching
Technically you don't need QTS for many secondaries and 6th forms now because sp many are academies and free schools these days. However, any post 16 environment I've been in has wanted a QTS.
GCSE and A level courses are set by the board and that's what you have to teach.
I don’t have QTS and teach Alevels. In fact I taught without a PGCE and another teacher is primary trained. For each subject the exam board sets a specification which the teachers follow.
Thank you very much, so helpful. That is interesting about QTS not necessarily being a requirement in all schools.
Just to clarify, the exam board (one exam board for the whole of England, yes? What is it called?) sets the exam, and the course content, based on what exactly ? Is it still the National Curriculum post-16?
No, you have different exam boards and the staff/management choose which to follow. So you could use OCR or WJEC or AQA (or others.)
"National curriculum" doesn't apply in the same way to Key Stage 5 (over 16s). There are subjects offered at A level that are also National Curriculum subjects (Maths, English, Science, History etc) but there are lots of others that aren't (Economics, Philosophy, Sociology, Law, etc).
In my subject, at least, when they went over to linear A levels, the three main exam boards agreed on what the main content would be, so while there are some small differences between their approaches, the students learn very similar material, take the same amount of exams, etc. I don't know if this is the case for all subjects.
Something else to know is that the old modular system of A levels is being phased out as the subjects gradually transfer to two year linear courses with the exams all at the end. The rationale was to give more teaching time and to prevent students endlessly retaking modules to boost their grades. Students can still take A/S levels after a year but many schools are dropping them due to the expense of running two courses.
In order to teach without QTS the school (if state maintained) has only to show that they cannot recruit a qualified candidate (I don't think anyone ever checks on this); academy schools (the majority) can recruit whom they like and so can private schools.
In practice the majority of teachers do have QTS as without it, it could be hard to move jobs and you might get paid less. But it is not really a requirement, although a older colleague told me the government has been saying it will be soon since the 1970s!
Thank you, Phineyj , that is the last piece of the puzzle!
My brother is really grateful for everyone's input, you have answered all his questions.
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