Posts Tagged ‘just 17 staff in England have been officially struck off for incompetence’

It isn’t that Hard to Make a “Poor” Teacher a “Good” One

July 12, 2012

There is a theory among educational circles that a struggling teacher can’t improve. This is probably true in today’s climate, but it isn’t a reflection on under-performing teachers, but rather a reflection on the total lack of support given to teachers.

A teacher’s journey begins with a pressurised, yet basically completely useless, teacher training course. This course not only fails to provide teachers with the requisite practical skills but is often taught and run by former teachers who are overjoyed at the prospect of finally being out of the classroom.

Then, if that teacher is lucky enough to score a job at a school with resources, a track record of half-decent behaviour and academic standards (because let’s face it – graduate teachers often go to the toughest schools to teach in), they are left on their own. No mentor, no support system. They are put in an environment where every teacher is in charge of their own classroom and teamwork is often non-existent.

That teacher can always break the unwritten rule and ask for help, but that would be a mistake. A graduate teacher’s first contract is usually a 12-month trial run. That teacher cannot afford to advertise their uncertainty and lack of experience. Teachers are overburdened as it is and many resent having to help an amateur when they have an ever-increasing workload to deal with. Therefore, a graduate teacher that asks for help risks not having their contract extended, thereby risking future employment.

So what do these teachers do? They learn on the job. And that’s where mistakes are made and bad habits are formed.

These bad habits sometimes make them look like “poor” teachers. Many of them are just well intentioned teachers who have never been given the support they needed.

The public are probably very supportive of new regulations that makes it harder for teachers branded “incompetent” from finding a new teaching job. I bid them to see beyond the labels and call on the system to support our teachers rather than replacing them for a newer version of the same thing:

For the first time, schools will be given legal powers to find out whether staff applying for new jobs have previously been subjected to official warnings.

Former employers will be required to disclose any disciplinary action taken against teachers over the last two years to give new schools a more comprehensive picture of their ability.

The regulations – being introduced from this September – come amid fears that too many schools allow weak teachers to leave and find new jobs rather than draw attention to their performance.

In the last decade, just 17 staff in England have been officially struck off for incompetence.

But teachers’ leaders insisted that the regulations would treat teachers “worse than criminals” and force some out of the profession altogether.

Click here to read about how I would solve the problem of the unsupported teacher.


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