This topic comes round every now and then, usually when brought up by a politician. As ever, there are those who will argue on both sides, but as so often is the case, there is a confusion surrounding what is being argued about – probably not helped by a 140-character limit for those debating on Twitter. So here’s my two-penneth.
Firstly, there is a great lack of clarity at every level, from parents and classroom teachers, right through to Secretary of State: QTS is not training. QTS is not synonymous with PGCE. If there are arguments to be had, then we need to tackle these things separately.
Qualified Teacher Status is awarded to those who are deemed to meet a set of required standards. Over the past ten or so years, there has been a boom in the number of routes available to QTS, all with their proponents and detractors. But the common core is the list of 8 teaching standards:
- Set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils
- Promote good progress and outcomes by pupils
- Demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge
- Plan and teach well structured lessons
- Adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils
- Make accurate and productive use of assessment
- Manage behaviour effectively to ensure a good and safe learning environment
- Fulfil wider professional responsibilities
Surely nobody is suggesting that any of these is superfluous to good quality teaching? Or even detrimental to it? Perhaps those who argue for (or support) the removal of the QTS requirements ought to be asked to identify exactly which of those 8 requirements it is that they are opposed to?
In fact, the appraisals regulations for maintained schools require that those standards be considered for all teachers, not just those qualifying. It seems to me that they are a perfectly reasonable set of requirements for teachers to meet.
With regards to training routes, my view now is that the route you take into teaching is of no interest or significance to me or really to anybody else. However, if you cannot demonstrate that you can meet those standards, then I also wouldn’t want you teaching any child of mine.
There may well be arguments to had about the relative merits of training routes, balance of time in school and at university, links to meaningful research, etc. But those are other issues, not related to whether or not we require QTS in our schools.
I do not believe for a second that there are excellent teachers out there who feel unable to work in schools because of ‘burdensome’ requirements. The QTS requirements are straightforward, reasonable and, in my opinion, appropriate.
If there are problems with training courses and routes, then by all means let’s tackle them – but here is definitely a case where the separation of baby and bathwater is key.