Teaching seen as a second-rate profession

20th February 1998 at 00:00
MP condemns the low A-level grades needed to get onto a teacher-training course, reports Dorothy Lepkowska.

Teaching is perceived as a second-class profession with entry grades too low to make it a top profession, the Government has been warned.

Margaret Hodge, chairman of the education and employment select committee, and Labour MP for Barking, condemned the low A-level grades required of prospective teachers and warned there were too few "gifted and talented" teachers.

She told a Commons debate on teacher recruitment that while students needed three As at A-level to become vets, two Ds and a C were usually sufficient to "look after our children's well-being".

Mrs Hodge criticised the Government for its "lukewarm response" to a select committee report in November warning of a growing recruitment crisis which would undermine ministerial standard-raising drives.

She said: "It is not enough to make new laws in the House of Commons, and it is not enough to issue circulars. We need excellent teachers if we are to achieve excellence for all."

She urged the Government to take "some urgent, radical steps which will start to turn things round so that we really do have a realistic hope of reaching the ambitious targets for school standards".

Liberal Democrat education spokesman, Don Foster, said recent recruitment figures pointed "inexorably to a crisis".

The Commons debate coincided with the release of new figures on headteacher recruitment, by the National Association of Head Teachers. It found one in four primary vacancies were not being filled, and nearly half of adverts attracted six or fewer applications.

David Hart, the NAHT's general secretary, urged the Government to act. He said: "Its decision to phase, and therefore devalue, an already inadequate pay award for next year was wholly misguided.

"It will serve only to damage recruitment even further and put at risk the Government's pledge to improve standards dramatically between now and the next election."

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