A degree of choice;Talkback;Features and arts

3rd December 1999 at 00:00
Interviewers often fail to value qualifications, says Elizabeth Hinks.

Why is it that educators do not value education? Surely people who are in the business of promoting learning should appreciate the value of educational qualifications? Alas, no.

Many older teachers - even some headteachers - still have no degree. Most school governors who sit on interview panels do not have any formal education past secondary school and have no appreciation of the significance of a BEd or an MEd.

Recently, I have come away from yet another job interview where the best qualified candidate did not get the job. Certainly experience is important but when all things are equal, why is the choice based on a gut feeling about the candidates rather than on who has more relevant qualifications?

Could it be that headteachers don't want to hire a teacher who has more degrees than they do? Could it be that the gut feeling is about whether the headteacher feels threatened by a candidate's superior qualifications?

Many optimistic returners, mostly women - of which I was one - take demanding courses in the mistaken belief that it will land them a job.

Unless they are already doing a similar job, then no one is going to be interested in what they have to offer. Courses make no difference and can even be a liability if they make people more costly or appear to be over-qualified.

Tight budgets mean state schools can often afford only cheap, recently qualified teachers near the bottom of the scale. They aren't even especially keen on newly qualified teachers, now that they need an induction year.

How can educators expect children to participate in education if they, as teachers and managers, do not value learning and educational qualifications? If we want the best education, we must hire the best qualified teachers.

Elizabeth Hinks is a part-time learning support teacher in a Cornwall primary. She is working on an MEd in special educational needs

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