Forget Mr Chips, bringin the A-Team

21st October 2005 at 01:00
Images of teachers as lone heroes, like Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society or Mr Chips, are outdated, says the man leading training for school staff.

Ralph Tabberer, chief executive of the Training and Development Agency, said these popular role-models need to be replaced with team-players such as television's The A-Team, who worked together in the 1980s to save the day.

He said the move would reflect the fact that teachers now work closely with classroom assistants and other non-teaching staff.

Mr Tabberer told the agency's annual meeting in London this week: "We are still using Mr Chips and Robin Williams as the model of the heroic teacher.

"I have no problems with teachers who have passion, but there are other people working in schools today. This model of the heroic lone teacher is one we would do away with."

Afterwards, he said: "Let's keep the passion of the heroic teacher, but not the idea they work alone. It's a different message, but a positive one.

Support staff have largely been an invisible army."

Mr Tabberer said potential teachers should know about the support they would receive as part of the new, mixed workforce in schools, with classroom assistants acting almost like their personal assistants.

He said a slogan he liked, but did not intend to use for TDA advertisements, was: "Become a teacher - here's your PA."

The TDA took on responsibility for the training and development of all school staff when it changed its name from the Teacher Training Agency seven weeks ago.

Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, told the meeting she saw it as her department's "modernisation agency" and that it would play a vital role in transforming the school workforce.

A scene from Dead Poets Society was screened at a National Association for Head Teachers' conference to inspire delegates.

Mick Brookes, NAHT general secretary, said: "I think the challenge for modern headteachers is to make the Robin Williams character a part of their team but at the same time to protect and enhance their gifts.

"The teachers that people most remember are those gifted and sometimes eccentric characters."

Leadership 30

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