Day 104 – Teacher Training & Recruitment

This blog has pondered on teacher training and recruitment before and wonders how much weight our councillors will put on this entirely spurious argument.

To clarify and reiterate, a good middle school is a vibrant melting pot of ideas from primary and secondary practice which allows those practitioners to learn from each other and apply the best of both worlds.

Teacher training is often disjointed, with secondary courses concentrating on KS3 and KS4 without much consideration of what goes before (or after in some cases). Primary courses, on the other hand have many skills and competencies to teach and, whilst specialisms exist, they are very much a minority component.

When primary-trained and secondary-trained teachers come together there is a dynamic and creative mix with an age-range of pupils that is ready to learn without a great deal of the emotional baggage that comes later in their school careers.

That is precisely why independent prep schools all over the country are so popular, and why middle years education exists in so many countries in the world, albeit in so many varied forms.

There is also the myth that teachers are more difficult to recruit in Bedford that other places owing to our “antiquated” school system. Well, apart from there being no evidence for this apart from the assertions of the same old tiny band of vocal and influential two-tier supporters, teachers rarely move huge distances geographically unless promotions are in the offing.

Most teachers teach in areas in which they were brought up, or were trained, or where their partners jobs took them. Once they live in an area, they look for an appropriate job. In Bedfordshire, primary specialists therefore make a decision whether to teach early years in a small lower school or try something different at a larger middle school. Secondary specialists essentially choose between educating children or training adolescents for the outside world.

Leadership opportunites abound in middle schools and are suitable for a wider range of candidates than lower or upper schools. Prep school headmasters for instance are often taken from the ranks of “housemasters” from senior independent schools. Middle school heads could quite easily have been heads of KS3 at large secondary schools.

These issues are red herrings which councillors should be aware of before they vote on this issue. The educational arguments just do not add up. Rather like the finances in fact.

7 Responses to Day 104 – Teacher Training & Recruitment

  1. River Song says:

    I totally agree with this. One of the arguments I heard in the non-consultation meetings was that applications to the middle school teacher training courses wers down. Well of course they are, with the axe swinging above the head of middle school tachers’ careers, what do we expect? That is a shame.

    I think that I would be correct in saying that most teachers in a middle school were trained on secondary or primary courses and subsequetly have chosen to work in the middle years. If they trained in Bedfordshire, then during their training they experienced teaching in middle and upper schools or lower and middle schools. When they applied for jobs, they have chosen to specialise in this area and develop teaching in upper ks2 and ks3.

    If this change goes ahead, there is a danger that we will loose teachers who have developed knowledge, skills and expertise in this area. We have imagined that retraining will be needed for the middle school teachers who will have to choose whether to apply for jobs in the new primary schools or enormous secondary schools. That is true, but in order for the expertise we have in this system, for these ages, to survive, other teachers will also need to expect to develop their understanding of this age range.

    With everyting else that will be going on during this chaotic change, I fear that will not happen.

  2. JamesD says:

    But just think off all the savings you can make by geeting rid of all of those expensive experienced teachers from Middle Schools. Remember only one post will be sellected for each of them by the Council Officrs and refusal = resignation. No redundancy to pay then. The same for all of the supporting staff TAs, cleaners etc. 600 redundancies/ forced resignations will go some way to meeting the borrowing costs of the Primary schools. However, forget education attainment and life chances for a generation of our children.

  3. Stavros says:

    I think James D is too cynical. However to use government money to save long term costs is not. Two heads not three. 2 Site supervisors not three. Two buildings to maintain not three. Etc

  4. River Song says:

    Absolutely – and all the savings you can make by having just one head of department, compared to a head of department in an upper and middle school. Of course, many primary teachers don’t get paid responsibility points at all!

    As I’ve said before, is this better than what our children get now?

  5. River Song says:

    Maybe I should explain, I don’t think it is good for our children to make savings in this way. The job of a head of department would be twice the size as it is now. Too big. Like the size of the secondary schools themselves. Yes, there may be less money in staffing costs in the long term, but this will be refelected by a drop in standards.

  6. JamesD says:

    Stavros -I prefer the term “healthy scepticism” of any one who is being paid to push a change through at any cost to the education of the children.

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