Pupils On Parade!

Pupils-On-ParadeQuestion: How many ex-servicemen have qualified as teachers since the start of the government’s ‘Troops to Teachers’ scheme in 2014?

Answer: 28 – 551 people applied, 41 began training in the first year, 29 finished the course and 28 qualified

It’s well known that British schools are facing a shortage of qualified teachers.  Just this week the official spending watchdog said that the government had failed to recruit enough teachers for the fourth year in a row. The actual number of teachers has risen but the quality has not.  This is especially a problem in poorer areas where more than half of heads find keeping hold of good teachers difficult – in more affluent areas only one third of heads report the same problem.  All this means that 28% of physics lessons in secondary schools are taught by teachers with only an A-level in the subject.  So why aren’t there enough quality teachers?

Perhaps it is the pay that is to blame.  Teachers outside of London earn a salary of between £21,588 and £31,552 depending on their experience. Of course, those in private schools may earn considerably more and this can lure talent away from the public sector. So, if an improvement in teachers’ pay and conditions is not an option in these austere times, how can we attract more people to train for a career in education?

The government’s answer is ‘Troops to Teachers’, a UK version of an American scheme which kills two birds with one stone – it helps ex-servicemen to get back into civilian life and, at the same time, increases the number of teachers in state-funded schools. Supporters of the programme say that it brings military values like motivation, leadership, teamwork and much needed discipline back into the classroom.  There is however one problem – unlike all other teachers, applicants for ‘Troops to Teachers’ need not possess a degree of any kind.

Those leaving the military who wish to become teachers need only have GCSEs in English, Maths and (for primary schools) Science.  They are paid between £12,000 and £16,000 per year and are given training which consists of 4 days a week in a school and 1 day of study. Towards the end of the 2 year course trainees spend 2 terms in a school observing – after which they are considered fully qualified teachers.

Teaching unions have criticised the scheme, saying that the entry requirements are too low.  At risk of sounding biased, I must say that I agree with them.  I’d much rather have my daughter taught by someone with a degree in the subject than someone without. Will that mean having to get her schooled privately? I certainly hope not!

Ex-servicemen are not the only ones being encouraged to become teachers. Gas and oil workers whose jobs are at risk are also being given the opportunity to retrain thanks to a £12 million fund granted by the Scottish government.  Whether or not they will require degrees is not certain yet…

For further reading you’ll find answers to your education questions in our Knowledge Bank. Want to know how much it costs to go to university? Look no further! How about the learning style which best suits you? We’ve got all the info on that too. So, if there’s anything you’ve ever wondered about education but never got round to finding out, you know exactly where to go!

Now, back to the topic in hand, I give my full respect to those who have served in the armed forces.  Every one of them is much braver than I could ever be – but does courage make for good teachers? We here at Education Quizzes know the value of teachers.  To become one applicants must have (in addition to the qualifications ex-servicemen require) either a bachelor of education, a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree. Why should we drop our standards for former servicemen and women?

Who do you want to teach your children – a fully qualified graduate or a fast-tracked ex-military man?  Do you think what servicemen bring to the classroom makes up for their lack of university education or is this a ‘dumbing-down’ of the teaching profession?  Let us know what you think – we’d love to hear from you!

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