The teaching unions are aghast at the appearance of unqualified teachers in the school classroom. Whilst the union’s position is vital to maintain some form of control and prevent backdoor structural changes, there has to be some give-and-take. The ails of the national health service illustrates what can go wrong if effective control is lost in the clamor to recruit staff. The current concern is the revelation that many doctors recruited outside the European Union do not have the comparable skills of UK and EU doctors. Equally the teaching unions believe a significant number of teachers active in our schools are similarly under qualified. But maybe they just in the wrong teaching roles.
The qualifications issue presents a conundrum. The best-qualified person imaginable in any subject area may be an extremely poor teacher. Remember the TV experiment set by Jamie Oliver a few years ago. Accepting the theatrical need for controversy to make good TV, he demonstrated that eminent “teachers” selected to present to a selected class of children demonstrated how significant qualifications in the subject did not a teacher make.
Conversely many teachers with the required qualifications in pedagogy may get to teach in a discipline where they have no subject qualification. The vogue comparisons with overseas teaching area of excellence abound. Singapore authorities insist on a master’s degree being held by teachers in the subject area in which they involved. Our approach is about face. Teachers are required to be qualified to teach but not necessarily know anything about the subject area.
Being a good teacher requires ability in both camps. Training in how to teach (and control the class) and what to teach is the challenge. Just as many entrepreneurs who developed a fantastic product realise they are incapable of running a company. The trick is knowing where your limitations lie. A solution, at some expensive perhaps is to buddy up the teaching team. Classes can be merged and taught by one well-qualified teacher in the subject area, whilst the class attention is monitored by disciplinarian teachers able to control the class. Ex-army regimental sergeant majors (RSM) would be ideal, being armed perhaps less so. This could be the corridor to regional classes managed over the TV networks.
In the meantime if there were a balance to be gained I would opt to be taught by teachers with skills in the subject area. But accept mayhem could emerge in the classroom and therefore the teacher should be freely allowed to exclude miscreants who could be then taught in central class by a fully qualified teacher, maybe lacking in subject knowledge but able to control disinterested students who would otherwise delay the learning curve of those students anxious to learn. Could have an interesting positive effect on all those targets and give those willing to learn the best opportunity.