No degree, no training

2nd December 2005 at 00:00
I recently applied unsuccessfully for a job as a teacher of craft, design and technology at a secondary school in West Lothian, an experience which has led me to believe it is a myth that industrial professionals "would be welcomed" into the teaching profession, to quote a Government minister.

For family and financial reasons, I was forced to leave university before the end of my engineering course and seek employment. Although I understood that the job I applied for would probably be given to an experienced teacher with graduate qualifications, I felt I was a person in possession of relevant skills, with a suitably rounded character.

I don't think there should be any special dispensation given to applicants for teacher training or teaching. And I actually think that the PGDE one-year course is surprisingly short in terms of taking young all-night party goers and turning them into teachers who need to be seen as role models in our schools.

But what makes the system of teacher induction offensive is the insistence that an applicant must possess a degree. It amused me recently when, after a conversation with the applications department at Edinburgh University's Moray House School of Education, I was told: "You probably know more about the real stuff than most of the graduates we have today, but sorry, no degree, no training."

There needs to be a course which provides a route of less resistance if more professionals from industry are to be attracted into teaching. Perhaps a two-year advanced 'transitional teacher' course could be constructed.

If not, then management, the teaching profession itself and the Government should realise that appealing directly to industry for mature teaching applicants will be seen as a red herring, particularly because people will discover for themselves that all along they were considered to be of a lower standard.

I was accepted for Mensa when I applied 13 years ago. At one notable meeting of 15 people, whom academics would have been proud to say they had a hand in helping to become more intelligent, there wasn't one graduate. It is truly a great paradox that teachers can teach ordinary individuals to exceed all expectations, only for the same profession to consider them to be academically inadequate later on.

Chris Barron

Ochiltree Crescent

Mid Calder

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