Sunday, March 15, 2009


A few weeks ago I went to a market research focus group, we were all primary teachers. The facilitator started by asking us to describe our best day or lesson. It really was quite inspiring to listen to all the examples. Sometimes the collective noun is said to be a ‘moan of teachers’, well, it wouldn’t have applied at the beginning.

As the evening progressed it moved on to hours, workload and ‘initiatives’. Interesting to observe that every teacher was working long hours and had no time for the latest government ‘initiatives’. The latest one is to try and get Newly Qualified Teachers to take a Master of Arts course. It is being run as a trial in National Challenge schools in the North West.

The first point is whether a highly academic course that takes hours of study is the best training for NQTs, bearing in mind that between a third and a half leave teaching within the first five years. Workload and behaviour are always cited as the main reasons for leaving.

It isn’t clear if there will funding for cover, but potential MA NQT students could have 10% of time to study, that’s in addition to 10% preparation time and 10% for being an NQT. The expectation is that experienced teachers will act as mentors, unpaid, but they may be able to gain credits towards their own MA.

Another previous ‘initiative’ was the Fast Track scheme which was meant to identify young teachers with potential to become head teachers, started in 2001 it cost £89 million and managed to get 176 recruits into management positions.

Training for NQTs varies widely between different councils, but in most cases the usual ‘inspirational’ Mr or Mrs Motivator trainers have replaced the colleges and universities who used to deliver it.

The government seem to only promote the ‘super-teacher’ model or join in the hunt for ‘failing’ teachers. What about the ordinary teachers who aren’t interested in promotion and don’t want to become head teachers?


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