Primary teachers need broad training

7th March 2003 at 00:00
I am a third-year initial teacher-training student at Canterbury Christ Church University College. There are many incentives now to train as a new teacher: bursaries, golden hellos and so on.

This is all well and good because we desperately need more teachers. But all these awards are aimed at Postgraduate Certificate in Education students. Leaving secondary teaching aside, as I believe that for them a PGCE is the best way to go, I'm more concerned about primary teachers.

You need such a broad knowledge base to become a primary teacher, you need to be confident in every area so the children get the best teaching and learning experiences. Surely then, the best way into primary teaching is an undergraduate training course? These courses prepare students for every possible scenario that comes up. How can this possibly be done in one year?

When I qualify I will have had courses in every subject taught in primary schools and pedagogy. I will hopefully have specialist status in English, science, and music. Surely this broad knowledge base is better than degree-level knowledge in one subject with dribs and drabs of the rest of the curriculum here and there? So why don't undergraduates get awards too?

Many people have never wanted to do anything else but teach. We are dedicated and in for the long haul. We're not just trying it out to see how we like it. PGCE students (not all, but many) don't have this dedication.

It gives them another career option. Since the bursaries have been introduced students like me are choosing to go through the PGCE route because there are more incentives even though the education isn't as thorough. It seems mad that the only people who don't get rewarded are those who are dedicated to the profession and who always will be. We don't complain because whether we get money or not it is what we want to do and will strive to do it and become the best teachers we can. Why shouldn't we be rewarded for that?

Jennifer Salt

12 St Martins Road



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