My years of experience count for nothing

5th November 2004 at 00:00
I read with interest of the plight of Tristram Jones-Parry, the head of one of our top private schools, and David Wolfe, a physics professor, who were barred from teaching in state secondary schools ("Too posh for the state?", TES, October, 15); Mr Jones-Parry because he does not have qualified teaching status and Mr Wolfe because he does not have GCSE maths (and because of this, presumably does not have QTS either).

For many years I taught information and communications technology and maths in further and higher education, and to sixth-formers from local schools.I have a 2:1 honours degree, postgraduate diploma, Cert Ed (PCET), but not QTS.

I tried to take up secondary school teaching but, of course, I was barred (despite the fact that schools were keen to employ me). The Teacher Training Agency advised me to join the Graduate Teaching Programme for a year, followed by another year as a newly-qualified teacher.

I am 55, and the thought of retraining for two years to do something I have been doing quite successfully for nearly 20 years was soul-destroying.

Also, the training salary of up to pound;13,000 per annum is less than I could live on, besides being a misuse of public money in my case.

In my research to find ways into teaching, I came across teachers who did not have QTS, despite the fact that they had been working as teachers for more than 10 years and were being paid at the top of the main pay scale.

Is there really no way we can use accreditation of prior learning and experience, as we do with students, to ascertain current knowledge and skills? The assessment-only route is not well publicised, and it is not clear who is eligible or what is involved.

Also, how does this square with the Tomlinson report? There has been much talk of students as young as 14 "moving freely between schools, FE colleges and learning providers". Surely, qualified FE teachers, without QTS, are only permitted to teach post-16 students?

It is in no one's interest to lower the standards for entry into teaching - the job is far too demanding to be inflicted on the unprepared. But there needs to be a fairer, and better defined, system of conferring QTS that neither "qualifies" those unsuited, nor forces more training on those who are clearly already "qualified".

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