The conservative government has frequently suggested their desire to change and reshape the education system with a variety of methods and reactionary changes; yet their plan seems just as sure to miss the mark.
The idea is simple. Get recently retired professionals to teach in fields that are understaffed by retraining them as teachers. This shows considerable promise, right? Students will have access to individuals who have considerable knowledge in whichever subject area they plan to teach. But it’s not quite so simple, and there seem to be some pretty key questions that will need to be properly addressed if the idea becomes reality.
One immediate problem is the way in which the plan is carried out. The participants are gathered for a seemingly rushed training course, between 6 weeks and 6 months with even the latter suggestion half the usual amount of time a student undergoing initial post-graduate teacher training requires, before they are hurriedly placed in an inner-city school and expected to understand how to effectively manage behaviour or deal with students with Special Educational Needs.
Granted, an expert in physics may have knowledge way above the usual physics teacher threshold due to many years of theoretical work and research, but that does not necessarily mean that they will have any idea on how to manage a classroom. And yet the Conservatives seem to think that by giving these individuals a cut down level of training will somehow make them fantastic teachers.
Obviously some talented individuals may actually turn out to be great teachers with the limited training, and some may even stay in the career for a considerable length of time, but many of these applicants are going to find themselves overwhelmed with the targets, bureaucracy and madness of modern teaching. I consider this prediction fairly reasonable when you consider that, according to a study by Buckingham University, nearly one in three traditional teaching candidates leaves the profession within the first year.
Another criticism I have considered which seems to have been left by the wayside is the thought that many of these retired converted teachers are already coming to the end of their working life, hence their retirement from their previous career. How many of these individuals are going to want to pay for a teacher training course just to leave after a couple of years in the profession? As well as this, what makes The Conservatives think that people who have finally acquired their pension and some freedom are going to want to go straight into a difficult and stressful job?
Nevertheless, despite the criticisms I feel that with a bit more thought then maybe there might be a benefit to a similar plan. Why not offer the retirees the same level of training as a traditional teaching candidate? That would ensure that all candidates were well trained and ready for the task. Also, why not try and attract knowledgeable candidates who aren’t at the end of their working lives. Naturally there must be some sort of incentives to attract these retirees, so why not make these available for anyone with so much experience in a relevant field?
Any considerations on how to improve the standard of education in the UK is no bad thing, it just seems that ideas like this need to be re-evaluated and justified to ensure that progress is actually being made.