Quality, not route, is focus

2nd January 2009 at 00:00

I was rather dismayed, but not surprised, to read the letter written by "A concerned primary teacher" in your issue of December 5. There has always been a lingering doubt in the minds of many who have chosen to take the BEd route, that those who take the PGDE route simply don't have enough experience to be effective in the classroom.

In my experience as a "PGDEr", this is complete rubbish. What someone who chooses the PGDE route may lack in placement experience can be more than made up for in enthusiasm and other life experiences that they bring to the job.

The simple fact of the matter is that in 2007, the latest year for which data is available, there were around three times as many PGDE probationers in primary schools as there were graduates of the BEd route (1,420 versus 570).

While you could argue about the sanity of training so many teachers, it is likely that, without PGDE probationers, Scotland would be suffering a shortage of new, enthusiastic teachers as retirals grow. Also, the choice of following a four-year BEd degree is a luxury few mature students - especially those with mortgages or families - can afford, myself included.

Without people choosing the PGDE route, Scottish education would be a much poorer and less diverse environment in which to educate our young people. Let's focus on the quality of trainee teachers, no matter what route brings them there, and put to bed, once and for all, the idea that a one-size-fits-all approach is desirable or even sensible.

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