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Should a university education always be required to become a teacher?

James (27) is a Primary Teacher working through Protocol Education in Nottingham.

Should a university education always be required to become a  teacher?

After reading an article today about teacher shortages I began wondering whether potentially excellent teachers were being turned away because of a lack of formal qualifications. In other words, individuals who have the subject knowledge, experience with children and an understanding of teaching practices – but no formal certification to prove this.

Nearly all teachers in the UK follow the same route into the profession. They either complete a 4 year undergraduate degree in education or a 3 year undergraduate degree, followed by a PGCE or GTP course. My story followed the latter route – a 3 year undergraduate degree, followed by a 1 year PGCE.

In the current economic climate so many potential teachers will be put off by rising undergraduate degree costs (up to £9000 a year). Sure, the PGCE and GTP qualifications pay students a small fee but nowhere near enough to give potential teachers the confidence to quit their current job and take up teaching.

Throughout my time in and around the school environment I have met countless people who I genuinely believe would make great teachers if they walked into a class tomorrow. If they could prove to their employers (through observations and such) that they have the subject knowledge and classroom management skills to help their students succeed, then why require them to have professional certification?

I am certain that my personal undergraduate degree and PGCE experiences were invaluable in preparing me for the classroom – I am simply suggesting that some individuals do not need these to succeed as a teacher. For example, a sports coach with years of experience working with children who has a keen interest in the area may be able to teach PE or sports studies.

Maybe I’m wrong? Having the subject knowledge and experience with children may not be enough without a PGCE year? Perhaps standards would fall if the rules for entering the profession were relaxed? On the other hand, by relaxing the criteria for hiring teachers we may find some special individuals that would otherwise have missed out on the opportunity to pass on their knowledge.

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Tags: ProtoBlog, James, Primary, Teach in Nottingham, PGCE, Qualifications, GTP, University

Category: Australian Teachers


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