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.