Mix and match skills and resources

31st July 2009 at 01:00

Unsurprisingly, higher salaries appear to attract better-qualified graduates into teaching. There also appears to be a positive correlation between the test scores of school pupils and how well qualified their teachers are. For example, South Korean pupils top the league in international comparisons while the starting pay of their teachers is 141 per cent of average per capita GDP.

But instead of offering the better salaries that would lead to improved performance in international comparisons, Britain is toying with several options. First, we could dish out masters degrees in teaching and learning in recognition of the in-service training that would have been undertaken anyway, making our profession appear better qualified than it really is.

Second, Michael Gove, shadow schools secretary, suggests barring the profession to those with entry qualifications deemed too low. Simple economics suggests that a higher price would need to be paid for what would be a smaller supply of teachers so this is a non-starter.

Third, the Government is considering the introduction of a personality test to filter out unsuitable applicants.

But perhaps there is a more intelligent way of deploying resources. After all, different subjects and schools require teachers with a mix of traits and skills.

Perhaps we would retain more teachers and reduce the need and associated cost of training if we invested a little in matching teachers to schools that would better suit their temperament, perhaps putting that personality test to better use.

Just as there are horses for courses, different teachers thrive in different schools. I suspect many teachers abandon the profession before discovering the right school. Where there are shortages, the Government can make ring-fenced money available to attract those prepared to teach outside their comfort zone.

Dr Mike Follows, Willenhall, West Midlands.

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