Welcome to the age of the Superteacher

29th October 1999 at 01:00
* Sarah Allen, Student at Homerton College, Cambridge. She worked as an account manager in the City before beginning her PGCE

"I am ambitious ... learning the management skills, having further training ... I see that as very positive. I'm concerned about the effect on people who didn't make the scheme, people in the profession. I can see some issues there. But, personally, I'd jump at it. Look at how successful, how over-subscribed the big company graduate training schemes are. One of things that attracts people is the challenge.

"Quite frankly, the reason I didn't go straight into teaching was because it was seen as a cop out. I was persuaded by my family and peers that I could do something better. That attitude is something a scheme like this could change.

"Jealousy and resentment may be there. We don't want to be labelling these people as superteachers. The point is that they've been identified as having potential; colleagues should be encouraged to help these people meet that potential, but in a shorter time."

* Anna Sarchet, Secondary PGCE student, English and drama, Warwick University

"The thing about teaching I've struggled most with is the how it's viewed by people. So many times I've been asked 'With a good degree from an excellent university, why do you want to be a teacher?' This could be a kind of affirmation that it's a serious job, a profession. But I don't think I agree with the concept.

"I'm ambitious. I'm fully committed to teaching as a profession. It's what I want to do. I want to become a head. I'd like to think that I would be considered for this - but that doesn't mean that I agree with it for a select few.

"All teachers need the skills listed in the prospectus, not just the fast-trackers. You need to set high standards for all teachers. If only a few have to reach these high standards, what message does that give?"

* Judi Russell, NQT of English and drama, the Hermitage School, north-east England

"The pressure during PGCE was immense and that has doubled now that I've gone into a job. I've got enough to cope with.

"My mother's going to be asking me why I'm not winning a teaching award, and then you'll have people saying 'Are you an ordinary teacher or a superteacher?' And if the answer is an ordinary teacher they're going to think 'You're not good enough to be a superteacher'. The idea that some will go into the job with a label which says that they are better teachers - that's really scary.

"I'm working on a school production. Would I have the opportunity to do that sort of thing? I want to build up a relationship with the pupils, to have a form to follow through to year 11. That's the part you play in their lives. This idea of throwing you in and taking you away can't be good for you as a teacher. If you are going to make a difference to people's lives, you have to be there."

* Jhardine Farrell, RE student at Leeds University

"It is attractive to me, because I can set myself goals and know that I won't have to be in the profession for 20 years before I have the opportunity to be a head.

"I'd love the bursary and I will be going for it. Obviously it's about the money, the bursary and the additional increments, though the additional training will be welcome.

"Fast track will enable me to meet my goals, they'll be a structure around me to help me succeed. Those 5 per cent will be an elite, those will be the people that everyone will be after. It's going to get a lot of applicants because of that."

* Melissa Goode, an NQT teaching A-level psychology and lower school learning support at Fairfax School in Sutton Coldfield

"I'm already working a 50-60 hour week managing the classes I have. The scheme might keep more people in initial teacher training. It's is a very demanding course which is very badly funded. A lot of my fellow students were finding things extremely difficult. The bursary might help. Whether it would keep people in for the right reasons I'm not sure.

"In some schools the fast track label would make it difficult to get on, it would put added stress on you because you would be looking to achieve in your first term. People would be looking at your teaching skills straight away, whereas normally you're allowed a breathing space."

* Francis Chalmers, 46, a charity worker with a degree in social anthropology from Cambridge, now following a PGCE with the Open University

"For mature students like myself time is of the essence. Fast Track could allow me to make best use of that time. Teaching doesn't have the status it should have in society. Pay is one of the issues, so this could help.

"I expect there will be some disruption, but that's true about the introduction of any new system; it's not a reason not to pursue it. I think colleagues would offer great support. Over the long term it could increase the number of high-flyers who go into teaching. I'd be interested.

* Libby Ripley, an NQT at Prudhoe Community High school in County Durham, teaching history and sociology

"This would be more attractive to people once the induction year was out of the way. People would be reluctant to take on extra pressure in their induction year. I don't think I'd go for it, the existing workload is tough enough.

"In theory it could give teaching a status boost. The money will be important to some, but the majority of the people I know went into teaching with their eyes open. They knew about the pay."

"I don't see problems with other staff. There could be some resentment, but if the fast track staff were very capable, then other staff would be fine."

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