Parent power moves into class
Are you a classroom Yosser, collecting your children from school or helping their teacher out, all the time thinking 'I could do that'? Like the hopeful boy from the blackstuff, perhaps you could. If only you knew how. And if only you had the right training.
Schools today are far more open to parents. Parents come in to help with special projects, drama productions, reading and craftwork. Some become playground and classroom assistants.
Many of them - above all mothers who have hit the no-preschoolers-at-home watershed - believe they could make a go of teaching.
There's a recruitment crisis in teaching and mature applicants are especially welcome. It doesn't mean schools will take just anyone, but it does mean some effort has gone into making the profession more accessible, including the school-centred initial teacher-training (SCITT) programme, which allows successful schools to offer their own teacher training.
All in all, it's worth looking at today's alternatives to the traditional two ways into teaching: degree followed by one year's full-time PGCE training or a four-year BEd course.
If you are a graduate and at least 24, it's worth considering the Graduate Teacher Programme. Its hours are more family-friendly than the PGCE and it's more pocket-friendly. You train in school, on the job, on a salary of around pound;12,000.
First you have to find a GTP post. They're increasing in number, especially in London. If you can offer a shortage subject, you stand a better chance. Many schools specify in the advertisement that they are looking for a trainee. (You can find out more from the Teacher Information Line and from the TTA website.) If you never actually took your degree, but you completed two years of higher education and you're at least 24, there's the Registered Teacher Programme. This takes two years and is a combination of academic and professional training. You cmplete your degree - worked out by your school and a higher education provider - and you train on the job. It doesn't carry a salary, though in some cases there may be funding for those offering a shortage subject in secondary schools.
With both categories, once you've found a post, the school will develop a training plan for you. At the end of this you face independent assessment, as well as tests in literacy, numeracy and ICT, before being awarded Qualified Teacher Status.
Some teacher training providers offer flexibility - based on training by modules - which will let you fit your training in around existing work; will take into account experience; will let you switch from full-time to part-time study; will offer distance learning; or will let you switch to a more intensive training programme.
For all teacher training you need at least a Grade C in GCSE English and mathematics (or equivalent). If you want to teach primary or middle school pupils and were born on or after September 1 1979, you'll also need at least a Grade C in a GCSE science subject (or equivalent).
Relevant experience with young children will always help you get a training place.
Tracy McKenna, 30, now taking the GTP route at The Purbeck School in Dorset, where she teaches design and technology, had always been interested in being a teacher. But life didn't work out that way at first.
With a City and Guilds qualification, her first career was in catering.
After her son Seamus was born, she took an access course, gained a degree in 3D design and worked as a freelance designer.
Several years later she became a learning support assistant. The school adapted her timetable to its need for her specialised knowledge and later offered to support her on the GTP.
"The employment-based route helps me balance family life and training," she says. "It's perfect as I already have classroom experience and am confident enough to teach straight away."
Teacher Information Line on0845 6000 991TTA website - www.teach-tta.gov.uk