Opinion: Support teachers’ right to strike, but not the NUT strikes in June

Teacher - License Some rights reserved by ben110It’s no secret to readers of Liberal Democrat Voice that when I write an article, education professionals tend to get it in the neck. At least I’m consistent.

So why should the June strike bother me? Jerry Glazier highlights the issue of teachers’ workload that it is now up to 55 to 60 hours a week on average. This angered me because while youth unemployment stands at just under 1 million a qualified teacher in primary or secondary will start on £21,000 and on average you could eventually hope to earn around £35000 a year. When I left school I started work in a bakery and worked 55 to 60 hours a week earning £3.65 an hour (minimum wage). I’ve great sympathy for teachers who are having their financial security challenged, but I’ve more sympathy for those not so lucky as to start on £21,000 a year. This does beg the question is this illustrative of an underlying class divide within the teaching profession?

The second thing I found unpalatable is the complaint that teachers’ status was not equal to that of other professionals like a GP or a Barrister. From the outside looking in, the ‘teaching profession’ (or those purporting to represent it) has become less concerned with pedagogical innovation and more concerned with professional status and social standing. The NUT seem to forget teachers are not the main focus of the education system, students are and I think those representing the ‘teaching profession’ should fight to evolve it to be more inclusive rather than status driven.

In my view the problem isn’t the teachers in the teaching profession but the inert institution the ‘teaching profession’ has become in this country. If I were at the negotiating table I would be fighting to bring down the workload by introducing a more malleable, even evolutionary, teaching profession. I’d want heads and governing bodies to take more ownership of their academic offer, through their teaching offer, by creating a profession of self-employed teachers similar to Barristers and GPs (it would be interesting to know if this is something Jerry Glazier agrees with?). I’d introduce per pupil and specialist funding for classrooms, so teachers themselves can take ownership of their classroom. I’d also create a homogenous teaching apprenticeship system with the burden on schools to encourage potential teachers to their facility from all backgrounds, building in career mobility for all employees within a school whether degree educated or not.

We need the NUT to show less fear of educations evolution and instead embrace it, take ownership of it and mould it for the future. For as long as 1 million young people struggle to become economically active the NUT’s motivation for striking is on this occasion horribly inconsistent with the values of supporting the development of the next generation.

Photo by ben110

* Patrick McAuley is a councillor in Stockport

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  • Eddie Sammon 25th Apr '14 - 11:12am

    I broadly agree, especially with the line about creating a profession of self-employed teachers like barristers and GPs. However, ultimately I want the teaching profession on board with reforms – we need to reduce their workload and come out strong against Labour’s plans for CPD logs. Yes they are used in other professions, but they are a waste of time.

    As with all reforms, such as market reforms, it should only target the bad minority, not attacking the profession as a whole. When it comes to striking: it should always be legal, but also always be sackable where possible. The amount of teacher strikes has become ridiculous and we need liberal reforms to sort it out.

  • Richard Dean 25th Apr '14 - 11:19am

    I see no indication of “class divide within the teaching profession” in your second paragraph. The NUT is the NU of Teachers, not the NU of Education Systems – its job is to support teachers. As regards status, the following webpage may illuminate. http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/apr/21/teachers-abused-online-parents-pupils. This and the training that is required for teachers, and the disciplined way they must respect pupil’s rights, ought perhaps to mitigate envy somewhat. I suspect the plan to “bring down the workload” may actually increase it! Is self-employment consistent with a “homogeneous” apprenticeship system, whatever that means?

  • 1) If a teacher’s contract gives a specific amount of hours to be worked, do you think they should work more than these?
    If so, why and what impact do you think this would have on recruitment and standards?

    2) What do you think is a fair salary for teachers, and what impact do you think this would have on recruitment and standards?

    3) Do you think teaching should no longer be a regulated profession?
    If so, why and what impact do you think would have on recruitment and standards?

  • Firstly, what relevance does your ‘fact’ about a minimum wage of £3.65 per hour have given it was several years ago? Today’s minimum wage of £6.31 per hour (for over 21s – teachers require degrees which means that they are all over 21) at 60 hours per week for 47 weeks a year gives a salary of £17794 per annum, which is very far off the starting salary of a teacher. Teachers, however, have to put themselves through GCSEs, A-Levels, a three year degree and a year’s post-graduate qualification to achieve that salary, which is well below that average graduate starting salary of between £26500 to £29000 depending on which source you look at. Teacher’s have lost six years of earnings compared to someone that left school without qualifications and started working in a minimum wage job. Furthermore, they will have very large maintenance and tuition loans to repay.

    “not so lucky ”

    Luck has nothing to do with it. They worked hard for their qualifications and invested a huge amount of money in obtaining them and, for that, they receive a salary that is well below the average graduate starting salary.

    “inert institution ”

    What on earth are you talking about? There is nothing in your post that qualifies these sweeping statements. You reference nothing.

    “to be more inclusive ”

    How does paying teachers less make the profession more inclusive? I’ve never heard such nonsense. Teaching is open to all – all you have to do is work hard at achieving some qualifications. The result of obtaining those qualifications and putting in the hard work, i.e. the salary, is not a bar to someone but a reward.

    It disturbs me that you are a councillor and a school governor.

  • Ben, one point to remember. Like others have said, teachers have a 35 hour a week contract in most cases. Of that 35 hours, about 22.5 is taken up with teaching. That is, you’re in front of a class, delivering lessons. So in that 22.5 hours, you can’t prepare next week’s lessons, you can’t mark the homework from other classes, you can’t develop or change courses for pupils – that time is a block where nothing else can be done. That’s why most teachers work over 35 hours – and can get up to 50 or 60 quite easily.

  • Patrick McAuley 25th Apr '14 - 3:14pm

    Hi all some great feedback by you all so far. This is why I love being a liberal democrat everyone has an opinion, if I were still in the Labour Party I would have been shunned by now. I’ll take some of the points in turn.

    I completely agree any reform is unworkable without the agreement of the profession itself, because ultimately teachers are the ones on the front line. I have to disagree with you on two points. On market reform and only targeting bad schools, my view is that targeting strategies such as academisation only serve to increase the disjointed and inequitable nature of the educational offer available to students and parents as I’ve tried to highlight with the comments on teaching apprenticeships I believe a more streamlined national framework/ middle tier is necessary to create greater fairness in the standard setting of schools.

    My view is that unless you deal with the evolutionary nature of the education system and particularly the effectiveness of its functionality you cannot hope to support teachers effectively. I would argue and often do argue that the cause and effect impact of educational reforms is so great that it is the centre of social and economic development, I think in a nutshell England’s stagnating educational outcomes has been reflected in the lack of social mobility the country has experienced.

    1) I would like to see teachers taking ownership of courses and sell the course they run to schools in a similar way to lecturers at university but more a market system the price would not be based on hours worked but the service outcomes. This is slowly happening in a Primary I am a governor of and they are really looking forward to developing their own specialisms within the classrooms so I think standards would go up
    2) again I refer to an annual contract system based on outcomes. For me the whole point of a market system is that the market decides the utility of your offer.
    3) Do I think teaching should be regulated? There are several layers to this question should teachers be qualified? should they exist within ridged pedagogical framework? Should they be accountable for the outcomes they achieve?

    layer 1 and 3 I agree with layer two I have great difficulty with because children are so individual it is necessary to have as much flexibility as possible in communicating with them.

    I’m afraid your comments on ‘working hard to get qualifications’ reflects perfectly the point I was trying to raise about the prejudice and (with respect) ignorance of some ‘professionals’ need for status and a lack of acknowledgement for the efforts of everyone in society. I would argue the hard workers you speak of are equal in number to the unqualified people who work the same amount of hours. I achieved a degree and a masters and I have to say I did not work nearly as hard, mentally, than I did when I got out of bed at 5 in the morning to go to work at the bakery that had some really awful mind numbing things to do.

    Your comparison with other graduate jobs is not a reflection of the social realities. 1 million young people are unemployed in this country including highly qualified young people these peoples income is not taken into account by yourself which I find shocking given they are graduates just the same as those in work.

    I’d also say the average wage in this country is around £26000 my view is this should be the starting point of any Trade Union that aspires to get good professionals from as wide a pool as possible. Your figure of £26500 suggests you are not focusing on the wider economic picture but the value of your pay compared to other professions around you. I’m not saying this is the case with yourself, but, this is what comes across.

    I put it to you is your status among other graduates/professionals more important than the value of teaching in itself. If it is the later why should ‘other graduates’ pay be an issue at all. Jerry Glazier was very explicit about ‘teacher status’ being of great importance to the NUT. I believe this to be wrong, because a basic principle of teaching and education is inclusion meaning the ‘status’ of the teaching profession would logically be irrelevant.

    Completely fair point, its not an article teachers would warm to easily. 🙂

    I think (I hope) I’ve answered your point responding to g

    Thanks again all, all good comments (even steve’s) 😉

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Apr '14 - 3:46pm

    Hi Patrick, sorry by market reforms I meant non-educational reforms, such as banking. I was just relating it to different industries where ministers sometimes seem happy to make enemies amongst the whole profession. I don’t know exactly why, but something seems to have gone wrong because there seems to be genuine hatred for Michael Gove.

  • Patrick McAuley

    Most of the points I would make have been done previously

    I would though ask you to tell us what your current job is seeing that you are quite happy to make sweeping generalisations about someone else’s? Are you a teacher, or some other ‘professional’

    Can you also state what the relevance is of the reference to an outdated minimum wage on a job requiring no specific training when compared to a job requiring progressional and academic qualifications is – the point you made here was so poor that it defies explanation.

    The average wage in the UK is around £26000 pa from what I can see but that includes everyone – I think you will find that when teachers are compared to other graduates they are not that well paid

    Your focus on tis

    ‘I’m afraid your comments on ‘working hard to get qualifications’ reflects perfectly the point I was trying to raise about the prejudice and (with respect) ignorance of some ‘professionals’ need for status and a lack of acknowledgement for the efforts of everyone in society. I would argue the hard workers you speak of are equal in number to the unqualified people who work the same amount of hours. I achieved a degree and a masters and I have to say I did not work nearly as hard, mentally, than I did when I got out of bed at 5 in the morning to go to work at the bakery that had some really awful mind numbing things to do.’

    is the most astonishing at all. We know people do terrible jobs with long hours for low pay….and the way to deal with this is definitely not attacking a group of people who work very hard in trying to teach our children – a skill that is not easy.

    Reading this I see someone with a big chip on their shoulder and I find your arguments weak and full of management/free market speak. Again, what do you do as a job?

  • Why don’t we pay doctors, barristers, nurses, firefighters, milkmen, police officers, bus drivers all the same as people working in bakeries then? Might as well live in a Stalinist society where everyone earns the same and lives in the same 2 bed flat.

    There is a complete misunderstanding of the experience of being a teacher at the heart of this article.

    I am a teacher and I regularly work these kind of hours. I also went on strike; not out of self interest but in the interests of the children. In the interest of my own children because I don’t feel its fair to them to grow up with an absent father and a dad suffering ill health and stress. More importantly for the sake of other people’s children because they deserve to be taught by people who are energetic and enthused not drained and demoralised. I wouldn’t mind working such long hours if this was because I was on top of all that I had to do but on the contrary I’m forever chasing my tail. It is difficult to be innovative and pupil focused when there is so little time to devote to creativity and professional development. there is nothing more demoralising than starting work at 7am and finishing late at night knowing that you could’ve done more comprehensive marking or more exciting lessons if only there’d been sufficient time. I am seriously thinking about giving up teaching. I honestly feel that if I have to do this until my late 60s I will die of a heart attack and forgive me if that is not a prospect I relish. I am a good/oustanding teacher (as observed by OFSTED and my school) and I have a degree from a Russel group university; exactly the kind of person who is supposed to be desired for the teaching profession. I love my subject and I have a passion for helping children learn and develop. The way teachers are currently flogged is unsustainable.

    The freedom offered to management and governors by academies and free schools is precisely the reason for this greater burden. The current vogue in education is for ‘interventions’ and accountability for progress; both of these are in themselves worthy pursuits but are now emphasised at the expense of marking, planning and building relationships with children.

    “Completely fair point, its not an article teachers would warm to easily. :)”
    To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher -the more they squeal the more it makes us think we are right. Heaven forbid that educated, passionate people with a commitment to public service should actually have anything constructive to say rather than just being blindly self interested!

  • Richard Dean 25th Apr '14 - 4:01pm

    If “education .. is the centre of social and economic development”, then surely it is absolutely correct to support teacher’s in their quest for improved status?

    With status comes respect, and with respect comes improved motivation and improved effectiveness in the task of teaching youngsters, even unruly and or parentally-misguided ones.

  • I would rather move my family abroad than have my children taught by unqualified teachers. You completely failed to address the point I made about teachers taking six years out from earning a wage and taking on massive debts to pay for maintenance and tuition. A newly-qualified teacher is at an immediate financial disadvantage of at least £50,000 compared to someone that entered the workforce aged 16. Why should someone that can’t be bothered investing their time and money to such an extent be given a job ahead of someone that has? Why would anyone want their children taught by such a person? Above all else, why would anyone want their children taught by someone that values education so badly that they didn’t bother with it themselves?

    “your pay ”

    I am not a teacher,

    How completely absurd of me to compare a teacher’s salary to other graduates. According to you, we should be comparing their salary to the unemployed and minimum wage jobs that require two minutes of training. It’s not hard to understand why teacher’s unions try to protect the standing of the profession when it is under attack from people like you who seem to view the job as some kind of child-minding that can be done by anyone that wanders in off the street.

  • I suggest bringing back reform schools. If 25% of class and a school are troublemakers , the teachers are not involved in education , but riot control. The reality is that there are ignorant thuggish pupils who despise education who are often the children of parents with the same attitude. Reform schools would employ teachers specially selected and trained to deal with ignorant thugs. Too much of teachers time is spent making making up for bad parenting. I would suggest there is too much toleration of bad behaviour. There needs to be streams in schools for bad pupils , if this does not work then send them to reform schools. The reality is that many poor performing schools occur because of thuggish pupils who cannot be expelled.

    No pupil should be able to assault, swear or abuse a teacher without being expelled and sent to reform school.
    Many teachers join unions because of false accusations by pupils and a lack of support by senior staff. The Government should provide teachers with insurance to cover accusations of malpractice.
    Many teachers do not agree with union leaders but fear of assault by thugs , lack of support from senior staff and false accusations means they need to join unions for protection.

    The reality is that councilors and MPs are too cowardly to confront bad pupils and bad parents.
    A major reason why C of E and RC schools do well is that they attract aspirational parents who support their children, provide discipline and loving support and they can easily expel thuggish ignorant pupils.

  • Patrick McAuley 25th Apr '14 - 5:31pm

    Hi again Helen

    I completely agree with your suggestion that we need to spice things up rather than keeping the status quo. I hope I’ve put forward suggestions on how to do this equitably and effectively. I also completely agree that Governments put forward idea after idea and it can be demoralising which is why I have suggested creating a self-employment structure, limiting the input from government.

    I’m not suggesting changes to interworking and departmental connections University lecturers do not have the same contractual arrangements as teachers and this does not interfere with their ability to collaborate as far as I’m aware. I’ve explained above I believe Head Teachers and Governing bodies should mould their academic offer through their teaching offer.

    Apologies if you think I’m having a pop a teachers this was not my intention. I thought I’d been clear that I was having a pop at the institutional nature of the teaching profession as part of the educational establishment. I have taught in a voluntary capacity and taught very disengaged youngsters and loved it. I would ask you if you could reciprocate the gesture and do a 12 hour shift in a bakery for a period? I’d be interested in your insights after the experience.

    I recognise the NUT does not represent all teachers which is why I put in brackets (or those who pupport to represent the profession)

    I fully support workers right to strike, talk of Tube workers being categorised as an essential service making it illegal to strike filled me with horror. I am not questioning the right to strike but the motivation in this instance.

    ‘This seems to me to be an argument born of envy with no real substance.’

    This highlights the need to ask the question I asked of whether there was an underlying class divide within the teaching profession. Given the accusation has come up twice in 8 interventions I think its something we should reflect on. I think its unfair to suggest the argument is born out of envy. I’ve tried to highlight the inadequacies of the system while disagreeing with the NUTs motivation for striking In addition, this remark makes it difficult for you to substantiate your argument that it is government who are creating social division, something to think about.

    Apart from that I thought you picked some good holes in my argument particularly the bakery/education comparison given the importance I place on education, its something I had not considered and will reflect on.

  • Patrick McAuley 25th Apr '14 - 5:43pm

    Sorry Richard I missed you off.

    I have to disagree with your understanding of status and respect. I think one of the things that makes teaching so difficult is the straight jacket teacher status you have to convey to those your teaching. I’ve found respect is a very subjective thing that needs to be earned by each individual if it is not to be abused. I also don’t think the idea of giving out a social ‘status’ above others does much to help the argument about government sectioning off society, which I agree with Helen is an issue that needs to be addressed. Interested hear others views on this?

  • The question surely is not whether teachers ‘deserve’ a salary of some given amount, but rather what salary is required in order to attract candidates to apply for teaching jobs rather than the other jobs they may be qualified to do.

    If posts are going unfilled because candidates are not applying, then the salary needs to be raised for those posts.

    Contrariwise, if there are no vacant posts, then it means that the salary is at the correct level.

    I have no idea which of these is the situation, but that’s all that needs to be looked at when determining salary; ‘deserve’ has nothing do to with it.

  • “I have no idea which of these is the situation,”

    50% of teachers leave the profession within 5 years. There are acute shortages of teachers in key areas such as Maths where it is very difficult to recruit graduates who can easily land a better paid job elsewhere. The evidence tends to suggest that teachers are underpaid, whch is hardly surprising given the starting salaries are well below the level of the average graduate job.

  • Patrick McAuley 25th Apr '14 - 6:35pm

    Hi Tim thanks for feedback,

    When I applied for teacher training their were 1000s of applicants for the various subjects with only a few places available. I did listen to the media reports about teacher shortages and it did surprise me given my experience. What I’ve tried to highlight is that if we are experiencing teacher shortages the system has broken down somewhere. This is why I’d like to see teaching apprenticeships run similar to pupilages in Chambers, encouraging people that it is worth applying to teach because there is an obvious career progression within a school and within the system and that you can be your own boss. So the motivation of money would be balanced with job satisfaction through the ability to educate in a way that you want, on subject matter you can deliver, in a class size your comfortable with. The ultimate test for teachers would be the outcomes that they achieve in respect of each students expected progress. This is why I’d like teachers to have more freedom to mould their offer to schools and students and why I’d be in favour of per pupil and specialist funding to help them do that. In essence I’d like to see the liberalisation of teaching and that is what I’d like to see the NUT fight for and moulding rather than pushing against. Particularly on tenuous points such as professional status .

  • Helen, you claim most teachers are not in the NUT. There are roughly 438,000 teachers in the uk, the NUT is the largest teaching union in europe with 300,000 members. As the nut only recruit qualified teachers I would put it to you that most teachers are in fact members of the NUT.

  • Richard Dean 25th Apr '14 - 7:21pm

    This is crazy, Patrick, it really is. I suspect you, yourself and your views, are providing a prime example of what teachers feel is wrong with the management of their profession and of the absence of the support that they need in order to teach more effectively. Not intending to be rude, but in essence, you are the problem. You and the “solutions” you propose.

    You agree that there’s too much government interference, but you want to interfere more – by “spicing it up”? Not only is that more interference, it hasn’t got any plan to it. You want to improve teachers by destroying the residual stability that comes from having an employer, and by destroying the cooperation between teachers that is a necessary part of teaching a full curriculum. You say there is a class divide within the teaching profession but provide no evidence that it exists; instead you want them to have some form of equal status to the pupils that pay least attention and do least well and leave school without qualifications, and you complain that they’re overpaid compared to an unskilled bakery worker. You mention you taught but provide no evidence that you experienced the kind of ongoing assessments, discipline, and insults from all and sundry that professional teachers endure.

    If this this kind of envy-based craziness is what LibDems are about, why be surprised at the loss of respect evidenced in the disastrous results of opinion polls?

  • Patrick McAuley 25th Apr '14 - 8:12pm


    My view is that being a self employed profession would give teachers the freedom the to concentrate on developing their craft. What i find wrong with the argument you and Steve are putting forward about attracting the best is that money should be a secondary consideration in ones motivation to be a teacher. I admit that I come from a very humble background so my idea about what is attractive is somewhat different to people of wealthier means this skews my view somewhat. That said, if ones primary motivation for teaching is the carrot of a pay packet then I would suggest that they lack the fundamental edge all teachers need and all good teachers have the overwhelming desire to work with mould and grow learners.

  • Patrick McAuley 25th Apr '14 - 8:24pm

    Richard I think you’ve misunderstood what I am proposing. I am proposing a system that makes it more difficult for government to interfere, by giving schools control of their academic offer through their teaching offer, but I’m repeating myself….

  • Richard Dean 25th Apr '14 - 8:25pm

    Being self-employed is the very opposite of what “would give teachers the freedom the to concentrate on developing their craft”.

  • Patrick McAuley 25th Apr '14 - 8:34pm

    Eddie completely agree with you about Gove. The original draft of this article actually suggested he doesn’t help the case reform at all because he is so adversarial.

  • Jayne Mansfield 25th Apr '14 - 8:49pm

    @ Patrick McAuley,
    I am sorry but I cannot follow what you are saying at all.

    For example, you chose to work as a volunteer teacher for a short period and you want Helen Tadcastle to reciprocate by working in a bakery. Why?

    It seems to me that teachers have become the new scapegoats. A welcome relief to social workers no doubt. Teachers are working in a profession that meddling politicians seem unable to keep their fingers out of. They have to cope with many changes and it seems to me that changes are brought in before the results of previous changes have been properly evaluated. In my opinion , given the different abilities and individuality of each child that enters education, measures on how much value has been added by a teacher or a teaching method can’t be judged by short term tests or league tables. I know from my own personal experience of education, that sometimes a valuable seed is planted that goes into hibernation only to flower many years.

    Teaching is a profession, a very important one. In fact, the doctors and barristers you compare them with have good reason to thank their teachers. Chipping away at the professionalism of teachers is tantamount to chipping away at the authority and respect that is important if they are to maintain classroom discipline and carry out their role successfully.

    I was a parent governor at a primary school many years ago and it is important that poor teachers are weeded out, ( every profession has people within it who are unsuited to the demands made upon them), but in my experience, the vast majority of teachers enter the profession because they have a sense of vocation and they care. If the teachers’ union has called a strike I think we should listen very carefully to their grievances.

  • Patrick McAuley 25th Apr '14 - 8:52pm

    Sorry Steve comments coming think and fast

    ‘You completely failed to address the point I made about teachers taking six years out from earning a wage and taking on massive debts to pay for maintenance and tuition’

    If you read the article again you’ll see I argue that a teaching apprenticeship system should be introduced that schools would have burden of employing apprentices growing the competence of their staff as they would grow the competence of their students.

    I have to say I do resent your presumption about people who ‘can’t be bothered’ to get qualifications. Tell that to a Looked After Child who has had a harrowing home life and has to fight tooth and nail to keep their sanity in their teens nevermind get their GCSEs. But I think we are on different pages in respect of this, again education for me is about inclusion, development and growth for teachers as well as students.

    I have explained I am in favour of qualified teachers, I simply reject the idea you need to go to university to get a degree in Mathes only to become a teacher if you fancy it. Subject knowledge and communication capacity are important in equal measure. This is why an apprenticeship system would be my preferred option.

  • Richard Dean 25th Apr '14 - 9:01pm

    @Jayne Mansfield.
    It’s simple, it’s the 19th century “nasty industrialist” strategy.

    1. Fire all the workers (make them “self-employed”).
    2. Then require them to upgrade their skills before applying for temporary positions without any form of guarantee of next week’s wages.
    3. Determine who shall be self-employed and who shall be self-unemployed on the basis of tests devised and administered by those with little or no experience of teaching, such as school governors and unskilled baker’s assistants.
    4. Pay no more than the minimum wage.

    Thanks God for the NUT !

  • Patrick McAuley 25th Apr '14 - 9:27pm

    Last one for now. A lot of consistency in what has been said, a few points i’d like to address. First my point about being lucky enough to earn £21,000 was not a suggestion that we should move to a communist system. 🙂 I was making the point admittedly (a deeply provocative one) that their are people a lot worse of in the world.

    The other point i was making was that while there are near 1 million unemployed young people who couldn’t get a workload to be stressed about, to raise the issue of workload without putting forward a plan to reduce the workload by getting more ‘teaching professionals’ on board with the resource available was in my view wrong.

    Someone raised the issue of being a Russell Group university graduate and this is exactly the type of person we want to be a teacher. I find this view elitist and not in keeping with the values of the Liberal Demcrats but more experienced members may be able to put me right. I believe we should seek to find greatness in our teachers no matter their background the most important thing to me is getting results.

    I was warned this would cause controversy and so it has proved. Thanks everyone for there input it has been a great debate.

  • “Someone raised the issue of being a Russell Group university graduate and this is exactly the type of person we want to be a teacher. I find this view elitist and not in keeping with the values of the Liberal Demcrats but more experienced members may be able to put me right.”

    I think people will find it difficult to put you right unless you can explain how you come to hold such a peculiar view in the first place.

  • @Patrick McAuley
    You are the most anti-meritocratic person I’ve come across on this site. Russell group universities do not give places to undergraduates and award degrees on the basis of a student’s ‘background’ as you put it – they award degrees on the basis of merit – i.e. to those with ability and a work ethic. You would prefer it if we didn’t select our teachers on the basis of ability, commitment and a work ethic.

  • “I achieved a degree and a masters and I have to say I did not work nearly as hard, mentally, than I did when I got out of bed at 5 in the morning to go to work at the bakery that had some really awful mind numbing things to do.”

    Surely “mind numbing” means precisely the opposite of mental hard work?

  • I was the one who mentioned being from a Russell Group university. I mentor student teachers and do not see always see correlation between the prestige of the university and an ability to teach. Having said that i do believe that the calibre of those applying to teach is increasing and is testament to the commitment to public service that teaching requires; new teachers are not those without options and neither are they people not up to job, whingers or those without a willingness to embrase innovation. The reason I mention Russell Group is that these are the people Gove and his like consider to be necessary to attract in order to challenge the ‘blob’ and elevate the professionalism of teaching. Being that I am one of these people I wanted to disabuse the notion that such people are immune from the concerns expressed by the NUT. My experience is that stress is not resultant from individual inadequacy but rather inadequacy in the system which is continually at the mercy of idealogues with little experience of that about which they pontificate.

  • Apols for iphone typos. Must try harder. I will consult with my head of department about necessary interventions to ensure I make the expected progress as identified by the Fisher Family Trust.

  • @Helen Tadcastle
    “The idea that teachers should only come from this mission group because it’s the only way”

    I said nothing of the sort. I was countering the assertion put forward by Patrick McAuley who used the word ‘background’ in reference to Russell Group graduates as if it signified that they are from a certain social class because they went to a Russell Group university. Russell Group graduates don’t get to be Russell Group graduates because of their social class but because of merit. Yes, there are plenty of graduates from universities that are perceived to have lower academic entrance standards who make better teachers than those from the Russell Group, but that was not the point I was discussing (and, anecdotally, I went to a university that wasn’t a member of the Russell Group until a couple of years ago – Durham).

    Just because I disagree with the idea that a qualification from a Russell Group university isn’t meaningless because it only signifies ‘background’ rather than merit doesn’t mean that I don’t think graduates from other universities can’t be equal or better teachers. However, a minimum academic qualification of a degree is essential to upholding standards in education.

  • Peter Watson 26th Apr '14 - 12:17am

    @Vincet “There are roughly 438,000 teachers in the uk, the NUT is the largest teaching union in europe with 300,000 members. As the nut only recruit qualified teachers I would put it to you that most teachers are in fact members of the NUT.”
    I think your calculation is incorrect. I’m sure that the NUT would love to make that claim though NASUWT (who optimistically claim to be “the largest teachers’ union in the UK”) and the other unions might have something to say about it. A DfE survey (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/219648/DFE-RR268.pdf) suggests 37% of teachers are in the NUT, and a Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teachers'_trade_unions_in_the_United_Kingdom) collates some of the figures. I suspect that the disparity between these data and your calculation is because the union membership figures are for individuals (including students and retirees) whilst the figure you quote for the total number of teachers is actually on a full-time equivalent basis so the total number of people who are teachers is greater than this. Part-timers will each count as a fraction of a teacher but a whole union member!

  • Patrick McAuley 26th Apr '14 - 12:23am

    Go on last go

    Helen I profoundly disagree with the idea we have difficulty attracting graduates into the teaching profession. I would agree that there may be an issue with retaining them. I couldn’t comment as to why this is, but I have had experience of it in school. This is one of the reasons I’d like to see teaching apprenticeships so there is always someone coming through the system.

    Steve 🙂 I couldn’t be further from being anti meritocratic but I don’t subscribe to, what in my opinion, is your narrow view of merit that again seems based predominantly on social status.

    Chris if you have never done a ‘mind numbing’ job with no ideas for how you might push onto something better you’ll have little grasp of the mental strength required in getting out of bed in the morning. Anxiety and stress coupled with a failed educational offer from schools is in my experience a big part of why some young people become NEET, This is why i would like to see a more diverse educational offer that is more responsive to the social as well as educational needs of the student. This is why I have tried to encourage the expansion of our PRUs role in assisting as well as collaborating with schools working with Pupils at risk of exclusion.

  • Helen Tadcastle
    For certain engineering and science careers the first choice by many employers are Imperial College/Cambridge . If one wants pupils from poor backgrounds not only to enter IC/Cambridge but do well , then one often needs teachers from similar backgrounds.

    In general when it comes to science and engineering , employers look at the quality of a department. An example Is Southampton University which has very good electronic and mechanical engineering departments. If we want to reduce inequality then we need advise pupils which departments and universities are preferred by employers , which is not necessary Oxbridge/Russell. Oxford’s Engineering Science was not considered sufficiently practical by some employers who suggested potential employees take a masters at Imperial or Cranfield.

    Teachers cannot be expected to have the same expertise as employers but schools could ask for advice.
    I would suggest that taking arts degrees from many low ranking universities may be a waste of time and money.Pupils who gain good GSCEs and decide to accept advance apprenticeships with utility companies or a retailer such as John Lewis may have better lives.

  • Patrick McAuley 26th Apr '14 - 12:39am


    Read back you first comment and was going to disagree with your comment about Councillors and MPs being to cowardly to deal with bad pupils/parents but if I think about it I would probably agree with most of that statement. What I would say is that as a councillor I do come up against some officers with very entrenched views about how to deal with this issue.

  • Peter Watson 26th Apr '14 - 12:54am

    @Patrick McAuley
    I am a little confused by your article.
    You appear to believe that teacher’s should be satisfied with (or even grateful for) their salaries because they have a better income than bakers and unemployed young people. You also appear to believe that it is “unpalatable” for teachers to want their profession to be considered of equal status to barristers or GPs. (As a chartered engineer I am more than familiar with my own profession’s unfair lack of perceived status).
    I shudder to think what sort of people you would like to attract in to teaching; presumably those with low aspirations and expectations. Personally, I would hate it if my children were taught by anybody like that and am grateful for the personal qualities and professionalism shown by all of their teachers so far (from reception through to year 13). I certainly have the same respect for those teachers as I have for GPs, if not more.
    I also have to wonder where those GPs and barristers (and engineers) would come from without good quality teachers. From overseas I suppose.
    I believe that your article would have been much better if you left out what seems to be an unnecessary and unfounded attack on teachers and instead simply expanded upon the fourth paragraph with your suggestions for changing the structure of the teaching profession.

  • Catherine King 26th Apr '14 - 12:59am

    The point people seem to be missing is that it does not matter whether you work as a baker or a teacher, have a degree or just life experience, we can all teach children something that will enable them to go through life with hopes and dreams, integrity and ability to achieve. Teachers do a valuable job, but no more so than the lollipop lady who sees the children across the street in the morning. As for the comment about social workers, I find it rather offensive.
    Everyone who is fortunate enough to be employed or who is retired, or unemployed or a volunteer contributes something valuable to society including the children who live in that society. So if we all just get over ourselves and recognise that we are interdependent and start valuing the contribution that every person makes to a child’s life then we might just move towards a society where every child, no matter their background or difficulty, is given an equal chance to be educated in an environment that is condusive to their learning. Regarding targets and paperwork etc.that is all they are, inanimate objects that contribute very little to people’s lives. You can choose to prioritise the things that are important.
    I also have a degree and worked very hard to get it and coped with student debt but I also appreciated the work I did as a volunteer just as much.
    Traditional schools only provide appropriate learning environments for a proportion of children and we need to start creating differing learning environment with a range of people/teachers/mentors/guides so that every child has an opportunity for structured learning.

  • Patrick McAuley 26th Apr '14 - 1:20am

    It’s fair criticism Peter. I have to reiterate it was not my intention to have a pop at teachers but the institution the teaching profession has become. I did go through serveral drafts before publishing. the final draft is a somewhat simplified point to the one I was originally trying to make which was about the real issue of what to do about structural change in education. The fundamntal issue I have with the strikes is that I have not heard anything from the NUT about moulding change within the education system, which although some disagree, I believe is a responsibility of the NUT and other Teaching Unions.

  • Peter Watson 26th Apr '14 - 1:41am

    @Patrick McAuley “This is one of the reasons I’d like to see teaching apprenticeships so there is always someone coming through the system.”
    This is a topic that you could have expanded upon in your article instead of unnecessary comments about salaries and status.
    What do you mean by a “teaching apprentice”? What is a “homogeneous teaching apprenticeship system”? What does it mean for a teacher to have “ownership” of an “offer”? How does any of this deliver a better academic and vocational education for children?
    I might be misunderstanding your article, but at the heart of it seems to be a call for more working class teachers. I am sure that this is a good idea, but your solution seems to be a dumbing-down of the teaching profession, and that just seems wrong.
    In order to produce GPs, barristers, engineers, scientists, and many other graduate careers, then I would suggest we need teachers who have been to university and studied alongside them. In order to teach subjects at A-level (and GCSE) then I would suggest that a teacher should have studied that subject at degree level. And in order to educate younger children or less academic pupils, then I would suggest that we need teachers who have been exposed to and understood a variety of teaching theories, methods and practices, quite probably at university level. Surely what we need is an education system that encourages and enables children from all social backgrounds to achieve these sorts of qualifications rather than one which produces teachers who cannot. Teaching should be a career which attracts the brightest and the best; salary and status are not the only factors, but they are important.

  • Peter Watson 26th Apr '14 - 1:53am

    @Patrick McAuley “I have not heard anything from the NUT about moulding change within the education system, which although some disagree, I believe is a responsibility of the NUT and other Teaching Unions.”
    It might be worth looking at the websites of the various unions. It looks like the NUT, NASUWT, ATL commission research, run campaigns, conferences, seminars, training events, etc. I was quite surprised at how much stuff they do. Based on the media coverage (and your article) I would have assumed all they did was call for strikes.

  • Peter Watson 26th Apr '14 - 1:55am

    @Patrick McAuley “I have to reiterate it was not my intention to have a pop at teachers but the institution the teaching profession has become.”
    This does sound a bit disingenuous when you introduced your article by saying, ” when I write an article, education professionals tend to get it in the neck”

  • @Helen Tadcastle
    “Hence the comment of one earlier respondent who claims that the ‘best’ teachers should be drawn from only RG universities.”

    Again, I said nothing of the sort. Please read my earlier reply.

  • Patrick McAuley 26th Apr '14 - 11:35am

    Hi again Peter

    Not all Barristers and Engineers go to university many come through the system within the profession. I actually had a solicitor department head at Pannone tell me that the those coming through the ranks were often more compitent than those coming straight out of university. Teaching Apprenticship would look like any other apprenticeship, with the caveat it would likely replace teaching assitants. It could be a 4 year programme or my preference would be a continual programme developing teaching skills and subject knowledge on the job. They could support a teacher in a class with a particular specialism say history or Mathes and they would work on knowledge as well as pedagogical competences progressing through the school but as it would be a national system it would allow apprentices to find opportunities in other schools to progress.

    The open remarks about educational professionals were admittedly provocative as are some of the other parts of it, but its purpose was to stimulate debate and as an opinion piece I was interested in peoples strongly held views and attititudes. Anger can often act like alcohol it brings out people’s real feelings. I thought the title would provide sufficient balance to my views on strikes. I don’t think all the NUT do is call for strikes my issue is their motivation for strikes on this occasion. If you read my previous article it should provide some context on my views about protest


  • Patrick McAuley 26th Apr '14 - 11:42am

    Cathrine King

    I think i should have spoken to you before writing my article, I couldn’t have put the point you make any better myself.

    Thank you

  • I am finding this thread increasingly bewildering and an example of the British dislike for people who have qualifications

    Firstly, I work with a lot of engineers – every single one of them has a degree in engineering. What engineers do not have an academic qualification for what they do? Some may have done work-place sponsored degrees but all have degree-level qualifications. I find it difficult to see how someone can do the complex job of an engineer without having studied it?

    As work-place funded degrees are much less common now, I am skeptical of the idea that an employer would take on someone and be able to train them internally up to be capable of becoming a chartered engineer without that academic background

    You also mention solicitors – I have a look at the requirements and it seems that you have to have fulfilled the academic requirements of a degree – there doesn’t seem to be a route to becoming a solicitor without having completed these studies.

    Your proposed 4 year ‘apprenticeship’ sounds in fact similar to the existing BEd degree which many primary teachers used to follow – if you are proposing a way into primary school teacher where you follow and on-the-job qualification and after 4 years have the equivalent of a BEd then that would have some merit but I think that is already feasible. If you are suggesting that the ‘apprenticeship’ has no academic part to it then I think you are wrong

    This may work in primary but not secondary, as it doesn’t allow for the knowledge of the subject required to teach to GCSE or A Level. I presume you are not suggesting that a degree or equivalent is not required to teach a subject at A Level’

    This continued comparison of the teachers with bakery assistants and lollipop people is both bizarre and offensive. Of course all people should be valued for what they do but there is a massive difference and if you cannot see it then I despair.

    As I said previously this is symptomatic of the British loving the trier and the amateur rather than those who have qualifications to back up their assertions. As a scientist, I see this every day with people taking the tiny knowledge they have and extrapolating it into areas where it doesn’t belong. If you then call them out you are called ‘arrogant’ etc.

    My wife is a teacher and I find this view of the profession as being completely different from what I see – in fact the difficulties she experiences are due to amateurs in Government thinking they know best, based on their ‘opinion’ and ‘experience’ coupled with the increasingly poor behaviour of parents.

    I would again like to ask the author a few questions.

    i. What does he do for a living and if he is so interested in education why not become a teacher?
    ii. Where have these ideas been put into practice in another educational system in Europe – surely he has some indications where it has been tried?
    iii. How does someone teaching A Level Chemistry, for example, learn the subject if they have no degree – if they have no formal qualification how do they prove competence?
    iv. Do you honestly believe that we should get paid based on your definition of ‘hard work’ i.e. that those in low-skilled/repetitive but physically demanding jobs be paid more than those that have to react to complex situations and have legal responsibilities ?

  • “Not all Barristers and Engineers go to university …”

    The Bar Council thinks differently. It says that the requirement for training as a barrister is either an undergraduate degree or the Graduate Diploma in Law – which is a conversion course for graduates in other subjects:

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Apr '14 - 1:00pm

    @ Catherine King,
    I am sorry but I find your argument as difficult to follow as much as Patricks. I accept that the fault may well lie with my level of understanding.

    I may be out of date, but when I was a school governor in a primary school many years ago, I used to go into school spend my days listening to children read . I and other parents were also encouraged to help taking children on school trips. The school welcomed people with outside experience. My husband,(CRB checked), still goes into a majority non English speaking school to listen to children read, giving time to children who are struggling.

    I have yet to read a post on here that devalues the contribution to society made by all members of society from all walks of life.

    I have yet to read a post that suggests that everyone whatever their background has something to teach children, to foster their hopes and dreams.

    As for the comment on social workers being offensive, my nearest and dearest social worker just thinks that some politicians and the right wing press have an agenda for demoralising teachers in the same way that they have for demoralising social workers.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Apr '14 - 1:05pm

    Sorry, I meant to say that everyone whatever their background does not have something to teach children., to foster hopes and dreams.

  • John Broggio 26th Apr '14 - 1:14pm

    So now, teachers do nothing more valuable than help someone across the road?


  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Apr '14 - 1:40pm

    @ Patrick,
    I think that you may be factually incorrect. All barristers undertake a degree ( not necessarily in law, those who do not have a degree in law can undertake a conversion course. ). They must undertake an expensive Bar Vocational training course. They then seek a pupilage and I am afraid that many do not succeed in obtaining a pupillage and have to give up their hope and dreams of becoming a barrister. The class of their original degree often rules them out as far as some chambers are concerned.

  • Patrick McAuley 26th Apr '14 - 1:50pm

    Jayne, Helen and others

    I’ve slept on it and I think some of the misunderstanding about what I’m saying lies in my lack of explanation of what I mean by the teaching profession.

    The ‘teaching profession’ is not a reference to teachers and their value etc. it is a reference to a social construt i.e. the social norms, values, understandings and practices that produce the institution that is the teaching profession. The NUT (or more accurately their motivation for striking) is symptomatic of the tensions and prejudices within that institution. My view is these are propagated by the mechanism for training teachers, which is why I advocate change in this area.

    In addition I’m not questioning the inherent value of teaching but the value of ‘the hierarchy of professional status’ particularly as measured by money. I think this is intensely divisive and it is this that creates sections in society in contrast to Helen’s second post yesterday.

    I’ve thought about the baker/teaching comparison and the point I was getting at originally was that as pay goes when teachers reach 35000 they are in something like the top 25% of earners in this country. which in my view is a privileged position to be in. But then as a former NEET the likelyhood of me achieving this wage is statistically remote.

    The request to go and experience working in a bakery was to highlight that all of us hold a particular view about things and to reinforce or change that view it needs to be challenged. I’ve put myself In a position to do that by teaching as a volunteer and found the experience very reinforcing for my values. My challenge to Helen was to do the same to get a real flavour for the profession she argued was of less intrinsic value to society.

    I’m first and foremost a Dad and a councillor so my view is very much as I said in the article from the outside looking in. I only ask that others challenge their own worldview as I aim to do in life and as I have done by writing this article.

  • Patrick McAuley 26th Apr '14 - 2:02pm


    I did the GDL (conversion course) and was excepted onto the BVC and was awarded a grant from the Lincolns Inn to undertake the course. One of my lecturers at university was a barrister she did not have a degree but did the conversion course because she had worked as a legal secretary for over a decade. My proposal for Apprenticships is that a system of teachers working in schools from the start of their education will produce functionally better teachers because their training will last longer than a year and they can focus and develop their love of a subject as they develop and grow their love of teaching. In addition my view is such a system would mean a more manageable financial situation for apprentice teachers because they would be earning and learning.

  • Patrick McAuley 26th Apr '14 - 2:11pm

    Jayne on the school governor issue. This is indeed my experience where I am a governor currently in a primary. however this is not my experience of being a school governor in high school. The 2 that I have been a governor at have been very insular places that do not like outside interference their is a hierarchy that you can it penetrate and some if the comments made by governors made on exclusion panels that I have been on have beggared belief about how out of touch they are with reality. I should say to help provide some context to my comments I think their should be a separation of primary and secondary education as they are quite different.

  • Helen Tadcastle. The best science and engineering departments work closely with industry and therefore employers know the good, average and indifferent. The reason why IC/Cambridge are preferred is that the breadth and depth of the degrees are usually greater than most other universities. Also many academics are former senior from industry( often head of R and D).

    Patrick Mcauley. I have had a friend punched by a pupil and sworn at by a pupil, neither were punished. Good organisation have leaving interviews: I suggest you ask why teachers are leaving the profession and what would keep them.

    If we wish pupils from poor backgrounds to flourish at IC/Cambridge , then they need teachers from similar backgrounds. The work rate at IC/Imperial on science and engineering degrees is higher than other universities, thats why employers actively recruit from these universities. A pupil who only manages to scrape into IC/Cambridge is likely to struggle and may have their confidence shattered

  • Patrick McAuley 26th Apr '14 - 7:51pm

    although i have not asked or looked into it I think it’s a perfectly reasonable assertion that teachers mainly leave the profession because of abuse. I think what you describe is symptomatic of this straight jacket the teaching profession seems to be. Again another reason I would argue for the type of reform I am.

    On the A level question you raise, i see an apprentice teacher in the initial stages much like a teaching assistant. Again in making qualified teachers self-employed delivering courses they have tailor made according to there own knowledge or skill set, they would be doing the major deliver of the course, the apprentice would merely assist but then grow into this role throughout their apprenticeship.

    I don’t think your argument about two tier teaching stacks up. In the article i argued for a homogeneous system of teaching apprenticeship someone earlier asked what this meant it meant equality at the point of entry. If you became a teaching aolrentice degree educated or not you would have to go through the same pedagogical competencies as someone without a degree and lets face it degree or not that is the acid test. that said, I would like to think teaching apprentices would have as much aspiration to become degree educated as those who got a degree and then entered the profession.

    From your last e-mail I think I understand a little better what your saying, what I would say is that according to the definition of a profession and a trade both require specialist training over a long period of time. Again my concern is that the word profession is being used by the NUT as a status symbol to single out teachers from other forms of employment.

    I quite agree my ideas for reform are certainly on the ‘right’ of the party in this instance. What I would say is that Gove’s reforms when you look at the history of educational reforms over the last 20 years are not unique or totally out of left field. they are consistant with Labours liberalisation. Blair didn’t touch performance related pay not because it wasn’t on the table but he new the Tories or other party would a) do it for him and b) Absorb the political fall out from it.

    What concerns me now and why I felt the need to write the article (which was in the original draft of this article) is that education is in the midst of a critical juncture in its modern history if Gove’s structural reforms go in challenged (and I don’t mean in the sense of forming resistance against them but path dependent, positive and canny challenge) then English education will become two tier and propogate an even deeper socio-economic divide in the future then currently exists. Again this is why I asked the question about a class divide in the teaching profession.

    I do have to say again thanks for the feedback I’ve really learned a lot, although it might not seem that way.

  • Catherine King 26th Apr '14 - 8:56pm

    It seems to me that the debate has moved away from the core of the topic (the children and the educational establishment) to debate about profession versus trade. In my view many professionals would not survive in the world of trade because it is too cut throat and arbitrary. That however, does not mean that good and honourable teaching cannot happen. I wonder what Richard Brandon would say about the debate. He is someone who is trying to change and shape aspects of the world for the benefit of the underprivileged and disadvantaged, with only a degree in life experience. Teachers are lucky they have not had performance related pay imposed on them before now. Whether you agree or not it is a fact of life – look at policemen, doctors, nurses, social workers. If you really don’t want these changes then get out at the next election and vote for the party you think will give you something better. And bring your friends, family and neighbours along. And just as an aside – look at the children across the world who are taught in mud huts by people who are passionate about relaying knowledge and information but without degrees or fancy universities. Many go on to do wonderful things in the world that teach other human beings how to live. Is that not what we would all strive for???

  • Patrick McAuley 26th Apr '14 - 9:11pm

    Hi again Helen

    I would never use the phrase the blob, but I do subscribe to the notion of ‘groupings’ having certain characteristics, making them unique and tangible in their own right. I don’t think they are amorphous if you are familiar with the theoretical framework that underpins their existence.

    you’ve hit the nail on the head via ‘why should Lib Dems embrace a set of policies like this’ although i could say your not just speaking for lib dems but all groups sceptical of Gove’s reforms. Again this was in the original draft but was cut due to its complexity.

    I’d recommend reading this article


    The theoretical framework I use for my research into historical instiutionalism is based on the theory of path dependency. in a nutshell the idea is that historical pathways condition future policy reforms and deviation from those pathways once engendered in policy, especially violent change in policy direction could be destablising and dangerous.

    This is why I’m so firm in my aspiration for the NUT to take the bull by the horns and mould change rather than push against it. I want them to drop in their own pebbles of in the evolutionary pond and cause the ripples that will have some long-term influence on standards in education. Again as an outsider looking in I don’t feel as though they are doing that.

  • Patrick McAuley 26th Apr '14 - 9:16pm

    By the way I must also be clear this article is an opinion piece and in no way is endorsed by the Party leadership as far as I’m aware. There are many in the lib dems who I know personally how find my views daft 🙂

  • Passing through 26th Apr '14 - 10:09pm

    “And just as an aside – look at the children across the world who are taught in mud huts by people who are passionate about relaying knowledge and information but without degrees or fancy universities. Many go on to do wonderful things in the world that teach other human beings how to live. Is that not what we would all strive for???”

    This article and the comments are really getting beyond parody. So not only do we have the suggestion that teachers are somehow the equivalent of lolly-pop people but now we the exhortation that the British education system should emulate the likes of Somalia and the other sorts of places which are universally accepted as having the worst education systems in the world.

    The reality is the majority of the kids taught in “mud huts” by enthusiastic amateurs finish their education illiterate and innumerate with no more skills than that required to be a subsistence farmer in some of the poorest countries in the world trapped into that cycle of poverty, how many of the world’s leading scientists or engineers do you think those systems have turned out? That’s some ambition we’ve got there for the UK heading into the 21st Century.

    Add to which across much of the globe the only thing a lot those “enthusiastic amateurs” instil in the children is the importance of martyring yourself in some terrorist attack, as anyone familiar with the madrassa education system is aware.

  • Catherine King 26th Apr '14 - 10:53pm

    I suggest ‘passing through’ keeps on going’………. they obviously have no respect for equality or individuality and the influence and impact that global teachings have on every one of us. This is typical of some of the entrenched thoughts put forward by some of the responders to this opinion piece. England is only a very small fish in a very large pond and it’s time they got their head out of the sand!!

  • Passing through 26th Apr '14 - 11:37pm

    “I suggest ‘passing through’ keeps on going’”

    And it is attitudes like that that convinced me LDV is no place I’d like to remain for any length of time and hence my username.

    The suggestion that the best education system we should strive for is “lolly-pop people enthusiastically passing on whatever they happen to have picked up to kids in mud huts” has nothing to do with “respect for equality or individuality” it is simply the worst form of anti-intellectualism.

    It is the belief that you can simply disregard scientists, engineers, medics, even professional teachers ; that their years of training and experience count for nothing and their opinions carry no more weight than the most ill-informed person’s with only the most casual and badly-flawed awareness of the situation.

    You see it with the anti-vaccination and climate change denial campaigns who attempt to claim the opinions of glamour models and right-wing journalists are more valid than the evidence-based arguments of tens of thousands of scientists and we see it again with Gove’s attempts to claim his half-baked educational theories outweigh the collective opinion of the entire teaching profession backed up by a politically-motivated campaign to publicly undermine teachers if they happen to object.

    The big shame is we now have Patrick McAuley pitching in on Gove’s side with his belief that the best of way of delivering high quality education to the nation’s children is to pay the teachers even less while publicly denigrating their professionalism and worsening their working conditions, I imagine that’ll have high-calibre candidates literally falling over themselves to become teachers rather than any of the other career avenues they could chose to pursue. He then expresses surprise that the NUT et al. aren’t rushing to support him.

  • Patrick McAuley 26th Apr '14 - 11:59pm

    Sorry…. ‘passing through’… Not sure you’ve read the article at all by that response, have to agree with Cathrine you should perhaps just keep passing through. 🙂

  • From the later posts by Patrick McAuley it appears he would like us to ignore the first two paragraphs of his article. However if the teaching profession was not attacked so much then maybe its status would be higher. In other countries it is. Status has nothing really to do with pay. As someone said the pay rate should be set to encourage people to join the profession and to retain those in it. If it fails to do this then it needs revising.

    To have self-employed teachers would increase costs. If a company employs self-employed people they pay more to them than if they offered a package with benefits to permanent staff. Barristers and GPs are paid more than teachers!

    I agree that schools should control their own curriculum and this is why I would like to see the national curriculum become optional on a pick and mix basis. This would give teachers more freedom and I expect more satisfaction.

    When I was at school and maybe even in the 1990s there were teachers who didn’t have a degree. I recall my computer studies teacher had learnt his subject while teaching another subject (I think it was art). However would an apprenticeship for teachers provide better teachers than a B.Ed? If there is any evidence I would like to see it. When I tried to train to become a teacher via the PGCE route I found that my BA knowledge was not very useful with regard to what was being taught in schools. It was the struggle to gain the knowledge before I could teach it that made me give up trying to become a teacher. Maybe if I could have had an apprenticeship for a couple of years that included the PGCE I might have succeeded.

  • Peter Watson 27th Apr '14 - 12:39am

    @Patrick McAuley
    I think the fact that you come back to LDV to discuss your position is great, and I commend you for that.
    A teaching apprenticeship seems to be a progression from classroom assistant to teacher. Are there not already schemes and qualifications to support that?
    I don’t think that subject knowledge can easily be picked up on the job while also learning how to teach, manage children, etc. That is enough of a challenge in itself. Obviously teaching children of different ages and abilities requires a different balance between knowledge of the subject and pedagogy, but even at primary school children ask challenging questions on a range of topics that need a good level of knowledge to answer. And this is not just about teaching academic subjects. I would also expect somebody teaching practical skills, sports, and vocational qualifications to have a few years relevant experience practising what they teach. Certainly at high school I want my children’s teachers to be more than a few pages ahead of my children. Perhaps there is a place for teaching apprenticeships as part of the mix in a primary school (and perhaps it is not too dissimilar to existing schemes).

    I would add that Passing through’s last paragraph does pretty much sum up the way your position comes across even if that is not what you intend. You certainly give the impression that you believe teachers’ salaries are undeservedly high and that what they do is not a profession with much status.

  • Patrick McAuley 27th Apr '14 - 12:58am

    Amalric, thanks for your feedback and welcome to the thread 🙂

    The issue of salary and status i think has become conflated as the thread has grown the two began as separate issues. The point I was making in the article is that teachers working 55 to 60 hours for £21000 to £35000 a year was not unreasonable I gave my own example but could just as quickly have used other examples. My mother working as a care assistant for another. In fact come to think of it I worked as a care assistant in a nursing home with elderly people with dementia doing 16 hour shifts. This is certainly a comparable environment in terms of pressure.

    I believe your incorrect about Barristers being paid more than teachers. from memory if you get a pupilege it is less than £15000 per year to start, the case for training contracts for solicitors dependent on where you train is around £16000 – £22000. Equally criminal Barristers I’ve been told average around £18000 a year which due to cuts in legal aid this could in fact be even less, which only goes to illustrate my point about others in society being hit just as hard if not harder in some areas.

    Thank you for agreeing with the apprenticeship idea. I think your the first. 🙂

  • Peter Watson 27th Apr '14 - 1:04am

    @Patrick McAuley “This is why I’m so firm in my aspiration for the NUT to take the bull by the horns and mould change rather than push against it.”
    Looking at the NUT website, I came across their ‘Education statement’, “Valuing teachers, Valuing education” (http://www.teachers.org.uk/files/valuing-teachers–8487-.pdf) which seems to be an attempt to keep the union at the centre of a debate about education. There appears to be quite a lot of other stuff which is over and above what might be expected of a trade union. (NASUWT appear to have a similarly broad range of interests.) Perhaps teacher’s unions give the impression that they push against change because politicians of every hue continually pop up and attempt to interfere or impose change for change’s sake without giving teachers a chance to be part of the debate and the decision-making.

  • Peter Watson 27th Apr '14 - 1:07am

    @Patrick McAuley ” believe your incorrect about Barristers being paid more than teachers.”
    Google is your friend. It took 30 seconds to find http://www.prospects.ac.uk/barrister_salary.htm

    Salaries for those undertaking pupillage (final stage of qualification for the Bar) must be no less than £12,000 per annum, set by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) . However, some chambers offer substantially more than the minimum and salaries can be up to £65,000 depending on the area of practice.
    Qualified barristers can be paid anything from £25,000 to £300,000.
    Salaries for those with over ten years’ experience can rise to £1,000,000.
    Typical salaries for barristers in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) or the Government Legal Service (GLS) : £30,000-£90,000.

  • Patrick McAuley 27th Apr '14 - 1:15am

    Hi again Peter

    Welcome back, 🙂 if I’ve given any indication I think salaries are unduly high I’ve clearly made an error in the article in writing. The point I was trying to convey is that if I were in receipt of £21000 to £35000 I would be very pleased indeed. But as a alluded to in the thread I would fall in the NEET bracket, ie those who would, because of a failed education, find it hard to reach that level of earnings. my recognition of this this as a good wage i tried to address by questioning whether this anomaly reflected a class divide in the teaching profession, but the point was perhaps to Subtle.

    The overarching point was about the workload and how to make it more manageable. Again this is why I believe self-employed teachers who tailor their own course that the school then buys back in return for certain outcomes while supporting and being supported by an apprentice would be the most equitable means of service delivery for all concerned. I have just finished a scrutiny review on exclusions and buy back was one of the topics under discussion, my preference is for PRUs to deliver services within schools creating an umbrella for those pupils at risk of exclusion. It had been done previously with great success but as ever politics get in the way.

  • Patrick McAuley 27th Apr '14 - 1:19am

    Peter this web page is grossly inaccurate. I too viewed similar graduate pages when I graduated this page takes no account of the area of law you are looking at or individual chambers etc. My belief is it is designed to entice graduates to enrol on post-graduate courses. If it was that easy do you really think we would have near 1 million young people unemployed?

  • @ Patrick McAuley – Thank you for your response.

    I didn’t agree with you that apprenticeships were a good idea. What I said was – is there any evidence that apprentice teachers are better than B.Ed teachers? I also said that I would have liked to have done a two-year post grad. apprenticeship linked with a PGCE, which is not what you are suggesting.

    I think GPs earn between £54,000 and £82,000 pa if employed, those in partnerships I would expect to earn more.
    According to Prospects the UKs official graduate careers website (http://www.prospects.ac.uk/barrister_salary.htm) some undertaking pupillage can earn up to £65,000 and this is still while they are training. Qualified barristers can earn between £25,000 and £300,000 pa and those with over 10 years’ experience can earn £1,000,000. How many teachers earn that?

  • Passing through 27th Apr '14 - 1:21am



    From those websites, trainee barristers get between £12k-65k, in comparison most trainee teachers have to get by on maintenance loans and bursaries in the range of £0(zero)-20k (with a handful of scholarships at £25k).

    Qualified barristers earn typically in the £30-90k range, and while some can earn as low as £25k (at least initially) others can expect £300k-1m which is well in excess of even the best paid head-teachers.

    I think by any comparison it is clear barristers are better paid, and given the WTD limits most working weeks to a maximum of 48hrs, a standard 55-60 hr working week is exceptionally long.

    As it happens as a research scientist I tended to work those sorts of hours but I was much better paid than a teacher plus I was doing that in my own interest and to further my own career.

  • Passing through 27th Apr '14 - 1:27am

    I see I’ve been beaten to it … twice 🙂

    Patrick, I’m failing to see the relevance of your repeated point about “1m unemployed young people” to whether teachers are being over-paid or are over-qualified or the starting salaries of barristers.

    It appears a complete non-sequitur.

  • Having just seen Patrick McAuley response to Peter Watson I would like point out that the point I was making is that those who are self-employed when working for an organisation cost that organisation more than if they were employed directly and therefore to have self-employed teachers would increase the amount they are paid and how much the schools spends to employ them.

  • Patrick McAuley 27th Apr '14 - 1:31am

    Amalric/passing through

    I refer to to my above comment re actual salary values. Again the fundamental point that is not being addressed is that GPs and Barristers are self employed. I do not know enough about GPs to comment further but barristers out themselves on the open market for their expertise to be bought. This is exactly what I am proposing for teachers, but so far no takers. So the question is how do you square that circle?

  • daft ha'p'orth 27th Apr '14 - 1:34am

    Much of this article can be summarised as an examplar of the When I Was Your Age trope. “I started work in a bakery and worked 55 to 60 hours a week earning £3.65 an hour (minimum wage)”… no doubt this involved a daily trek uphill, in the snow, both ways?

    My family lost a family member to an illness that started from baker’s lung. Bakers have a hard life. And the relevance of this to the teaching profession is absolutely none. Almost everybody who did not have the privilege of independent wealth has had to accept and work through some comically awful jobs. Sucks when you are exploited, don’t it?

    Here’s a suggestion with no less supporting evidence than your article: this ‘teachers don’t deserve squat when people in completely unrelated professions also have a hard life’ stuff comes directly from the same stable as ‘all librarians should be volunteers’. Both are female-dominated professions, especially in primary school teaching. I have noticed that some people have a problem with the idea that either should attract a salary even slightly beyond minimum wage; indeed, in some cases, it seems to be offensive that such jobs should attract a salary at all. It is sometimes suggested that such roles should be handled through zero hour contracts, perhaps through volunteer effort, and that people in such professions should enjoy the insecurity of self-employment, that, in fact, they do not deserve even the minimal level of financial security offered by comically awful jobs elsewhere. Such suggestions should be treated with the disgust that they deserve, because, drawing on our shared life experiences of comically awful jobs, we understand just how much it sucks to be exploited and therefore should not wish it on anybody… right??

    Also, what does ‘more malleable, even evolutionary teaching’ even mean? And what is a ‘teaching offer’? And as for ‘homogenous teaching apprenticeship system’ that appeals to diverse backgrounds, sorry, but are you sure you don’t mean ‘heterogeneous’? If you want to appeal to a diversity of backgrounds, isn’t it necessary to provide something that can adapt to the varying circumstances and backgrounds of recruits?

    “We need the NUT to show less fear of educations evolution”
    Tell you what… Let’s start by introducing a commitment to keeping empty buzzwords out of education policy.

  • Peter Watson 27th Apr '14 - 1:36am

    @Patrick McAuley
    Finland and education around the globe have been mentioned in this thread so I had a look at Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Finland) – which I’ll quote in case someone in Whitehall hacks it 😉 –

    The Education Index, published with the UN’s Human Development Index in 2008, based on data from 2006, lists Finland as 0.993, amongst the highest in the world, tied for first with Denmark, Australia and New Zealand. The Finnish Ministry of Education attributes its success to “the education system (uniform basic education for the whole age group), highly competent teachers, and the autonomy given to schools.”

    Both primary and secondary teachers must have a Master’s degree to qualify. Teaching is a respected profession and entrance to university programs is highly competitive. A prospective teacher must have very good grades and must combat fierce opposition in order to become a teacher. Only about 10% of applicants to certain programs are successful. The respect accorded to the profession and the higher salaries than the OECD average lead to higher performing and larger numbers applying for the positions, and this is reflected in the quality of teachers in Finland.

    These statements stand in stark contrast to your own, and the educational success of Finland appears to show the importance of valuing teachers.

  • Patrick McAuley 27th Apr '14 - 1:42am

    a service is only worth what schools are willing to pay but yes if an exceptional service was being provided and demand for it was high the cost would naturally go up but that is what teachers and some on this thread would like, i welcome this, we simply disagree on the mechanism through which to achieve higher pay for teachers. Again I would refer you to the fact that Barristers are self employed.

    Passing through I think your mp up to mischief so with respect I’ll let you answer your own questions. 🙂

  • Peter Watson 27th Apr '14 - 1:44am

    P.S. In case somebody wants to point out that countries like Singapore have displaced Finland at the top of international school league tables then from http://www.ncee.org/programs-affiliates/center-on-international-education-benchmarking/top-performing-countries/singapore-overview/singapore-teacher-and-principal-quality/

    Singapore recruits its teachers from the top third of high school graduates. Only one out of eight applicants for admission to their teacher education programs is accepted, and that only after a grueling application process. … Teaching is a highly-respected profession in Singapore, not simply because it is part of the Confucian culture to value teachers, but because everyone knows how hard it is to become a teacher and everyone also knows that Singapore’s teachers have year in and year out produced students who are among the world’s highest achievers. While teachers’ base salaries are not particularly high compared to many other top-performing countries, they are high enough to make compensation an unimportant consideration for students weighing teaching against other professions as they make their career choices.

  • Peter Watson 27th Apr '14 - 2:01am

    @Patrick McAuley ” Again I would refer you to the fact that Barristers are self employed.”
    So are many people. Some earn more than teachers, some earn less. Some GPs are self-employed and have the extra hassle of running a business, other GPs are employed by them with lower incomes but more employment rights. On average, both types earn a lot more than teachers. Some self-employed people work within large organisations as “contractors” but are indistinguishable from the “permanent” employees who sit beside them.
    In terms of salary, status, efficiency, effectiveness, etc., being self-employed does not mean anything in and of itself.

  • Patrick McAuley 27th Apr '14 - 2:04am

    Peter, Any good lecturer will tell you never reference Wikipedia it is not a reliable or recognised source of information. 😉 the difficulty with the analogy is that it is tied with 3 other countries Australia has a very different set up to Finland but maintains good standards. I think the acid test for me is the PISA tables which has shown stagnation that is to say progress has been roughly equal to that of any other country over the last 17 years. There is a government policy document showing 6 national professional teaching structures from around the globe and pick bits from each to use in this country. Again the question for me is recognising the direction of travel in terms of where the profession is likely to be in the future?

  • @ Patrick McAuley
    When I was in salaried employment I earned a lot less than when I was doing the same thing for a different part of the public sector but was paid a great deal more money. This is how the employment market works. It has nothing do with how good my work was. The point is that by making a teacher self-employed you decrease the job security of the teacher and this has to be paid for, but you don’t get a better service; it just costs the government more. Allowing teachers to set their own curriculum would be a cheaper option and I think would achieve a lot more.

  • Passing through 27th Apr '14 - 2:12am

    “Passing through I think your mp up to mischief so with respect I’ll let you answer your own questions.”

    That sentence doesn’t make any sense. It certainly doesn’t my answer my request for you to clarify a central point of your argument, again what relevance has the level of youth unemployment got to do with the relative pay and conditions of barristers and teachers? It is obvious from the comments that whatever points you were trying to make in your original article you have failed to clearly express them to most of the readers, the correct course of action is to clarify them not to tell the reader to go away.

    As for the your suggestion about teachers becoming “self-employed” without further details of how it would work it is hard to assess the merits of it.

    The parallel isn’t obvious between a GP setting up a surgery and a teacher setting up a classroom as part of a wider school with its own unique ethos in partnership with a dozen or more other “self-employed” teachers with their own different subjects and syllabuses from different examination boards.

    Similarly it is hard to see the parallel between temporarily employing a barrister for the length of a court-case with a clearly defined end-point and result and employing a teacher full-time to teach hundreds of kids, with different abilities, over a number of years where the comparative success or failure of the teacher is hard to accurately assess in the short term.

    Without further details we are just left with unanswered questions and obvious problem and certainly no way of judging whether and how it will deliver a better education system or a better deal for the tax-payer, the pupil, the school or the teacher.

  • Patrick McAuley 27th Apr '14 - 2:14am

    I think we have to agree to disagree on the point that being self employed means nothing in this case. The issues that have come from the article and the thread are teachers being recognised as professionals on a par with GPs and barristers both can (but do not always earn more ) the facility that allows this to happen is being self employed there is no getting away from that.

    What I don’t like about Gove’s reforms is that performance related pay will be a prescriptive process and not open to market valuations. head teachers determine unilaterally what a teacher is worth. Which does not sit easily with me. But again I agree with the principle of performance related remuneration.

  • Patrick McAuley 27th Apr '14 - 2:18am

    Apologies I’m afraid your analogy is a bit vague to me, could you indicate the jobs your referring to it my help me develop a context to your argument.

  • Peter Watson 27th Apr '14 - 2:30am

    Patrick, are you suggesting that those quotes on Wikipedia were wrong? One good thing about Wikipedia is that you can click on the external links to dig deeper into the original references but that didn’t seem necessary here. (I suspect that your apprentice teachers would get a lot of use out of Wikipedia to stay ahead of the kids)
    It looks like Australia values high standards and qualifications for its teachers, from the graduate stage upwards (http://www.teacherstandards.aitsl.edu.au/Home), and I tried to pre-empt a reference to PISA by showing (not on Wikipedia!) how teachers are valued in Singapore. I would also suggest that stagnation in one of the best education systems is not necessarily a bad thing.
    Perhaps you can point to evidence of a country – whether on Wikipedia or not – which performs at levels we should aspire to, which treats teaching and teachers in the ways that you recommend.

  • Peter Watson 27th Apr '14 - 2:50am

    @Patrick McAuley “the facility that allows this to happen is being self employed there is no getting away from that”
    Again, I have to disagree.
    If all barristers are self-employed with no employed ones for comparison, then you cannot prove that their high incomes arise because of their employment status.
    Self-employed GPs do a different job than the GPs they employ, so their higher salaries could be considered to arise from their management role rather than their employment status. Furthermore, GPs employed to provide out-of-hours cover can earn more.
    When self-employed people and employees carry out similar roles, often (usually? always?) the higher salary of the self-employed person is offset by the value of the employment rights of the employee (including paid holiday, sick pay, maternity leave, redundancy pay, pension contributions, etc.).

    Anyway, I would suggest that the point you are making has nothing to do with whether or not a teacher is self-employed. You appear to be advocating that teaching should be a service bought in by schools from suppliers in a competitive market. The providers of that teaching product could be individual self-employed freelancers or employees of a multinational teaching company. Whether or not that sort of market is a good idea though is probably best left for another day!

  • Jayne Mansfield 27th Apr '14 - 3:15am

    @ Patrick,
    Perhaps it would help us to understand your argument if you gave your definition of a profession.

    I agree with Peter Watson and I don’t get my information from Wikipedia. I have a close family member who was called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn. One who is a lecturer in Law employed by a University, One who is a GP ( independent Contractor and therefore in effect a self employed businessman as well as a doctor), and one who is a Salaried Hospital Consultant who does no private work.

    Are you suggesting that the salaried Consultant is less of a professional that the GP?

    As I say, please define you terms because I think that you and I might not even speak the same language, so it is hardly surprising that there is confusion and I am failing to follow your argument.

    More importantly, what evidence do you have that what you are suggesting will raise the standard of education for children? I really don’t think children should be guinea pigs when education is so important for improving their life chances.

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Apr '14 - 7:22am

    I agree with some market based reforms, but they shouldn’t be forced onto teachers against their will. This is about efficiency, not vote winning.

    When it comes to cuts, yes we have a deficit and I think teachers can understand some cuts, but the problem is why are we spending money in other areas like we haven’t got a deficit? There’s new middle class and business freebies being offered one minute and the next telling teachers they must accept more cuts – Help to Buy, export credit, elderly care caps, childcare taxbreaks, free school meals, it all needs to go.

    If Manchester United offered their players £1,000 per week they would fill all the vacancies, but not get good results in the top tier of football. It is the same with teaching. We don’t need to go crazy on pay, but can’t be skint flints.

    So there’s my two pence – I’m very interested in market reforms, but we need a less adversarial approach. I know this article is becoming a bit of a head-ache for Patrick, I just wanted to make my position clearer to the teachers and make a few more points. 🙂

  • Patrick McAuley 27th Apr '14 - 11:27am

    Morning all
    Jayne my definition of a profession is the dictionary definition. I’m not commenting on the teaching or other professions function value, my issue is with the NUT’s motivation for strike action and is laced in your question.

    Are you suggesting that the salaried Consultant is less of a professional that the GP?

    … The obsession with professional status.

    I would say students are guinia pigs/subject to innovation everyday in the classroom otherwise how is progress made in teaching in the first place. Further education is the closest example to the self employed model I’m advocating. we shouldn’t forget substitute teachers are in effect working in a self employed capacity. Under the system I advocate at least a substitute would be supported by an apprentice with some knowledge and background in the inner workings of a particular class rather than left to their own divises.

    I think an important point has been missed in the thread so far. evidence based reforms that have been implemented in the education system over the last 20 years have still led to comparatively stagnating educational outcomes. Like any change to the system it would need to be trialled to gain a better understand of whether it worked.

    Again I quite agree with you. Teachers need to be on board with any reform. My view is that actually when teachers look at the reforms they broadly agree with them. The main issue is the visceral haterd of Michael Gove.

  • Patrick McAuley 27th Apr '14 - 11:34am

    Well I reached over 100 comments so a worthwhile endeavour.

    In conclusion my concern is and was in the original draft the future of education in this country, the Strike in June does little to suppress that concern. My strongly held view is that rather than falling into a market driven system as some politicians would have them do the teaching profession needs to find a way of moulding the marketisation of the education system, because unless they do educational outcomes will continue to be asymmetric having huge consequences for social mobility in this country.

    Thanks to all contributors look forward to my next article….. If LDV give me another go.

  • Jayne Mansfield 27th Apr '14 - 12:03pm

    @ Patrick,
    I am sorry but the fixation with status and seems to come from, the posters on here are simply responding to it.

    I am not opposed to innovation, but I believe that it should be based on up to date research evidence. For example if there are changes in teaching methods they should be grounded in a understanding of how children learn etc.

    If there are stagnating outcomes couldn’t that be grounded in social factors, for example the disadvantage that some children face if they come from a non aspirational family, a home where their early curiosity and learning through play is not adequately fostered, as home without books etc. Could it be due to class size etc.

    You have made assertions that in my opinion you have not backed up with evidence. You have made references to different groups in relation to teachers that I find quite bizarre and on some points , I have doubts that some of your assertions are factually correct. But as you say, this has been a long discussion that as far as I am concerned has not been particularly enlightening so there is no point in continuing in circles.

  • Helen Tadcastle.
    I am not saying that all teachers need to be from IC/Cambridge in order for pupils to enter these universities. However, these universities have very intensive degrees and if teachers have B.Ed degrees from Colleges of Higher Education , they are unlikely to be able to to reach to high enough standard. When there are pupils with A * A levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry plus having represented their country at u18/u19 level at rugby or rowing going up to IC/Cambridge then it shows the calibre of some of the undergraduates. Only about 60% of comprehensives teach Further Maths A Level: there is also Additional Further Maths A Level.
    How many comprehensives can ensure teaching to Additional Further Maths A Level standard?

    The IC/Cambridge science and engineering degrees are very mathematical and the pace they set is fast. There are people who enter IC/Cambridge without Further Maths A level but they often struggle. Certain formulae at degree level need Further Maths A Level, an example would be hyperbolic functions.

    Teachers from good Russell Group/Durham Universities with degrees in maths, biology, physics and chemistry can teach to IC/Cambridge entry level. However , at many comprehensives there are insufficient teachers of such ability across the board: the physics and biology teachers may be adequate, but the chemistry teacher has a degree in environmental science and the maths teacher has B.Ed , both from ex-polys. The consequence the pupils do not achieve A* in maths, A* in A level most relevant to degree( chemistry for chemistry degree) , As in other two A Levels.
    Consequently, the admissions tutors at IC/Cambridge rightly conclude they would find it very hard to cope. What can happen, is that people go to other universities, make up for the poor teaching at their schools and then take a masters at IC/Cambridge.

    Where there are insufficient quality teachers at a comprehensive then pupils should be allowed to attend other schools. I also think there is good case for specialist 6th forms which are large enough and have sufficient quality teachers to match the best grammar and public schools. I think top comprehensive children should be allowed to attend public /grammar schools as day pupils which is more or less what happened at direct grammar schools such as Manchester.

  • Yes, came across B.Ed teachers at my comprehensive I attended . It is not just about dedication, it is about knowledge of subject. Look at the syllabus of someone with a B.Ed degree and that covered in an IC/Cambridge degree. It is also about preparing a pupil so they do well at IC/Cambridge , not just struggle through. I want undergraduates to be able to thrive at IC/Cambridge , take part in sports m music, drama , etc, etc not spend first year catching up subjects covered in Further Maths A level.

    Pre 1988, there were S Levels. The reality was that it was desirable to have an S Levels in the subject one going to study at IC/Cambridge . I doubt many B.Ed qualified teachers could teach S Level Further Maths . The reality in many top grammar and public schools, the top stream of upper 6th was taught to first year degree standards. My old text book on Calculus says ” Covers all calculus covered by A level syllabuses and most first year students students in colleges of higher education and polytechnics”. Historically many people leaving polytechnics wishing to progress academically then went to atop university entering in the second year.

    If we wish for poor pupils to enter IC/Cambridge; thrive at these universities;, obtain top degrees;, be able to play sport
    for them in the first the team and obtain employment in The World’s top organisation; then yes I am concerned about the top 5%.

    The reality in science and engineering many companies only employ from elite universities. Those in the UK are competing with those from MIT, Caltceh, Stanford, Max Planck, Grand Ecoles , etc, etc.

    The danger in the UK is that the likes of IC/Cambridge will become dominated by those from public and grammar schools in the UK and elite schools in India, Hong Kong, Singapore, S China, and S Korea.

    In a military analogy , recruits in the Royal Marines are not selected and trained by NCOs and officers from the Royal Logistic Corp but those in the Royal Marines, as they know what is required.

    A B.Ed teacher may be perfectly qualified to teach up to GSCEs. At my comprehensive the best teacher for teaching English to the bottom set had a Cert.Ed and produced literate school leavers . Would someone with a Double First in English have done a better job ; unlikely. Would the Cert.Ed teacher been able to teach to Oxbridge Scholarship level; unlikely. What is needed is” horses for courses”.

  • The issue of which industry I worked in and what job I did is not relevant to the point I am making. The job was an IT Technician. The point is that where any organisation employs someone who is self-employed they have to pay more than if that person was paid a salary and was entitled to the usual employment benefits. So far Patrick McAuley has failed to produce any examples where everyone who is self-employed are paid the same as those who receive salaries.

    The purpose of raising the increased costs was to try to move the discussion to alternative ways of freeing up teachers to produce curricula that are innovative without this increase in cost.

    @ Patrick McAuley – “I think we have to agree to disagree on the point that being self employed {sic} means nothing in this case. The issues that have come from the article and the thread are teachers being recognised as professionals on a par with GPs and barristers both can (but do not always earn more ) the facility that allows this to happen is being self employed {sic} there is no getting away from that.”

    If the only reason for wanting teachers to be self-employed is to increase their status then the status of other self-employed people should be compared. When I was employed and I did the same job as people who were self-employed I didn’t think my status was reduced, nor was it raised when I was self-employed. Does the self-employed builder, electrician or plumber have a status equal to a barrister or GP? I don’t think so.

    Patrick needs to be clear what he is trying to achieve by having teachers as self-employed and then needs to provide evidence that the outcome he desires will be achieved by this and that it is the most effective way of achieving that outcome. I feel he has failed to do so here.

  • HelenTadcastle. I am not just interested in the top 5%. In same cases , teachers who have a double first in maths from Cambridge are not best to teach the very bottom ability, as they have problems comprehending why a pupil has difficulty with the subject.

    I have never said that only teachers from IC/Cambridge can teach to standards good enough for entry. I would be surprised if someone with a B.Ed could teach to high enough standard for a pupil to win a Top Open Scholarship at Trinity , Cambridge or a Royal Scholarship to IC.

    I would suggest that in reality it is very difficult for a school to teach all subjects to pupils of all abilities for a catchment. What is ignored is that for schools such as Manchester Grammar, the catchment is Greater Manchester: for Winchester, it is the UK and the whole World.

    In reality there is a hierarchy of teachers with differing academic abilities: from those with B.Eds to those with First and a Distinction in their masters from IC/Cambridge . This is why certain companies first preference is IC/Cambridge.
    If you doubt me I suggest you talk to those responsible for recruiting scientific and engineering graduates at top companies. If one doubts the difference in academic ability , I suggest you study the number of Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals won by universities and where the top companies spend their research money.

    There is the Royal Ballet School because not every school has the ability to offer training to high enough standard to become a professional ballet dancer.

  • I remember the time when a teacher told a friend that he would never fit into Cambridge because he was working class. The school was hopeless but coaching from a retired diplomat enabled to pass the exams. My friend had a fantastic time at Cambridge, played for the university at two sports, had friends from major public schools. In my experience too many teachers have chips on their shoulders about Oxbridge, are exteremely resentful and not only do not encourage applications but actively discourage applications. The reality is that some teachers are not good enough to teach pupils for IC/Oxbridge and are not prepared to admit the unpalatable truth.

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