The Big Question: How long should it take to train as a teacher?

Each week, we speak to the people who count, people like you, and post their opinions on the big issues in the education world. Read it and comment to make it a lively and insightful debate.

A scheme to enable high calibre professionals to retrain as teachers in just six months has been proposed by the Government.

Under the new scheme, outstanding candidates from other sectors, such as banking, will be able to qualify as teachers within six months instead of one year.

There are also plans to plans to fast-track future headteachers into leadership roles within four years.

The government feels that the scheme will heighten the status of the teaching profession by attracting bright, skilled professionals from other industries.

Others feel that it is a gimmick and amounts to no more than an employment scheme for redundant city workers.

The Big Question: How long should it take to train as a teacher?

Here are some thoughts from the education community:

“I qualified to teach via a one year PGCE course as a mature student. Three years later I realise how much I still had to learn at the end of that course. I now mentor PGCE students and not one of those I have encountered would be ready to teach completely solo after just six months. We are struggling to keep up with Japan and China with regard to education and the idea of teachers needing a Masters qualification is being floated. So how can the government intend to undermine this profession by allowing people to teach after what could only be termed as a crash course? The students we are educating now will determine our status within the world in the very near future. We cannot afford to jeopardise this.”
Linda Walmesley
Teacher of Art and Design
St Edmunds

“My view is that the Government has lost the plot. Yes they might be able to deliver the theory in six months but they will not be able to deliver the practice in that time. Is this not undermining the profession as well as making it easier for new trainees? What about all the current students who are doing the intensive one year course followed by one year NQT? Ridiculous idea. It is discriminatory as they are talking about bankers and people from the financial area, i.e. the middle class, coming into teaching. What about the rest of society then? What message is the government sending?”
Pauline Spider
PGCE citizenship student

“Blimey, a teacher in six months! Maybe they would be high calibre material; but the truth is that being a successful teacher isn’t down to subject knowledge only. I would quite like to see the criteria for being assessed as highest calibre. Passion and interest, beyond the call of duty, are necessary and teaching is about learning to form relationships with those that you teach. Longer than six months is needed for this and I found it hard to do in a year. Six months with an extended NQT year might work but I still think you need a longer chunk of time to train to be a teacher. The Accelerated Headship (initiative?) is the only way that they will solve the headship succession problem, it is just a ploy. These bright sparks would burn out very quickly, move onto something else and the gaps would still be there!”
Susan M Coles
Creative Ways
Arts, Creativity and Educational Consultant

Please share your views below.

Previous big questions:
What’s the alternative to snap inspections?
Why are teachers shunning citizenship training?
Should trainee teachers spend more time with special needs children?
Does teacher training need to change?
Is £10,000 the answer to teacher retention?