Please Sir, let me teach the basics

19th September 2003 at 01:00
I concur heartily with your letter-writer ("Give experience its rightful place", FE Focus, August 15).

As well as two degrees with distinction in languages plus seven years'

doctoral research experience, I have taught German and English on a private basis and am now teaching basic skills (literacy) on a voluntary basis to adults with drugalcohol issues and those with dyslexia. I receive ongoing training in the specific field.

I spent two years attempting to ascertain which option would best qualify me to teach basic skills. I have spent many years in formal and vocational training and would prefer to learn productively while teaching, rather than passively in yet another classroom.

By 2002 I felt utterly frustrated at being told that the "changes" were underway but were not yet ratified, yet colleges were still offering the old City amp; Guilds qualifications knowing that they would very soon be redundant. Most did not know if andor when they would be able to offer the new course or when it would be ratified. I ended up doing the 9281 certificate more out of desperation than conviction and it is now not worth the paper it is printed on.

I attempted to enrol on the PGCE commencing this September with a view to committing another two years of part-time college to this, plus the level 4 basic skills modules, at present only offered by one college (Bolton) in the whole Greater Manchester area. The last straw was to be told that small groupsone-to-one teaching (surely typical of many basic skills sessions) was not "appropriate" teaching and would not be acceptable as the "teaching practice" element of the course. This is because I would need to "prove" my aptitude at "class control".

I would also need to produce proof of police security clearance even though I am not at present employed in an area that warrants this. I therefore understand that in order to qualify for a course that will qualify me to teach, I must already be a practising teacher (illegal surely?) with full experience of class control and teaching methodology. If this is the case, would there be anything left to teach me?

What is additionally irksome is the obvious need in Manchester for basic skills teachers. I have no trouble obtaining such posts on a voluntary basis, but when the issue of payment arises my skills are suddenly deemed insufficient, my formal qualifications inadequate and it would be illegal to employ me ? Funny that.

Anne Hill Fernie

Flat 4

16 Wellington Road


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