Children want to be led by talent and enthusiasm, not union hacks with a certificate

The teacher unions and their flunkies in the Labour party hate charter schools. One of their arguments is that there isn’t a requirement for trained teachers to be in charge of classrooms. They are taking their lead from the same battle that is happening in the UK.

Labour in the UK are running the exact same lines, lines that are without merit.

What makes a great school? It’s a question that obsesses parents, professionals and politicians alike, and there are all manner of theories bandied about. But, really, it’s rather simple: you must put your students first. And in order to do that, you must hire only the very best people to teach them.

At our Academy school, we don’t mind whether or not our staff is QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) trained – a basic freedom that private schools have long enjoyed. We have trained dozens of high-quality, enthusiastic men and women over the past few years and retained the best ones, qualified or not.

During this time our school, despite being based in the disadvantaged seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, has become one of the best in the UK. Our GCSE results have eclipsed those of schools in more leafy suburbs and placed us in the top few per cent nationally.

So it came as quite a shock to learn this week that if Labour wins the next election, some of our staff will be among the 5,000 untrained teachers to be told they must gain a formal qualification or face the sack.  

Same threats same MO…does the Labour party share all this info, or are they just bullying, ignorant thugs the world over?

This would be a disaster, for schools, students and for my “unqualified” teachers; it is a nonsense that you need QTS to teach. Union leaders may not like it, but schools such as ours have developed a successful model of getting the best staff because we are able quite simply to recruit people who are keen, ambitious and hungry for success. It works: our school has become a conveyor belt of the very best teaching talent.

Take one of our brilliant maths teachers, Melissa Harding. Mel started with us in 2008 as cover and she immediately shone with her refreshing motivational style and enthusiasm. It was clear we had an outstanding talent on our hands, so we made her a maths “teacher”.

Her students performed above expectations, which is surely a good indicator of success, and then, after only two years with us, she was graded highly during an Ofsted inspection. In fact, she received a higher grade than some qualified maths specialists. No one – parents, teachers, staff – could have guessed that Mel was non-QTS.

Of course we were monitoring her closely, as we do with all our staff, but the bottom line, surely, is results, and Mel’s results are superb. Our entrepreneurial vice-principal/head of the upper school, Jane McBride, still does not have QTS, but her teaching of business studies is outstanding.

A business graduate and former leader of an Asda sales team, her enthusiasm and motivation are the key reason why our school-leavers take away first-class results.

What good would it do to sack staff such as Mel and Jane?

They would be sacked because they aren’t meeting the criteria set by unions and the Labour party…so out they go.

The trouble is, the unions and certain other parties seem to think that QTS is a guarantee of success when it obviously isn’t. All head teachers and principals have seen their fair share of poor “qualified” teachers who drift into the profession and are almost impossible to shift out. If we can find excellent QTS staff, that’s all good, but in the current market we need to have the flexibility and creativity which thankfully Michael Gove has introduced.

Why should a great local chef not teach cookery? Why should a great local hockey coach not teach PE? How many graduates drift into teaching without a real passion for the job? Conversely, how many people have been put off teaching by the rigid system of QTS?

Academy freedoms have been long-awaited and we are using them to the full for the benefit of students. No creative and forward-looking school wants to be shackled by bureaucracy and rules. We have abolished “supply teachers” and instead use highly enthusiastic and motivated cover staff. Ironically, many of these after a year or two are now progressing on to QTS courses: this system itself is creating better QTS-trained staff.

To help improve education for thousands of children, I would urge heads and principals to use their new-found freedoms to develop the best teaching talent, and Stephen Twigg to ditch this regressive part of his plan.

And Mr Gove could do us all a favour by making it even easier to dismiss the few unsuccessful and unmotivated teachers and give their jobs to the unqualified talent that is eager to teach. This could be his greatest legacy.

Teacher unions aren;t part of the solution, they are part of the problem. They encourage and reward mediocrity, they obstruct, and they lie. Unions, especially in education are nothing short of a protection racket.


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  • Mediaan

    Good comment, well done.

    In 1913, dedicated low-paid teachers were successful in teaching children to read, write, calculate, and gain world general knowledge.

    Yet in 2013 we can’t get these certificated entitlement bozos to bring us similar results. Unions are indeed part of the problem.

  • Teachersrock

    Given we far out perform UK schools, that is not a country we should be looking to for good ideas about education.

    Well actually there is one idea I like and think we should adopt. Their Secretary for Education is going to teach for a term to better understand what teachers deal with and how kids actually learn. Perhaps Hekia could teach in a mid range decile school for a term to see that what she believes is actually just plain wrong.

    • Peej

      We had a Secretary for Education who came out from her high ranking education job in England. Having worked under Gove and garnered a Queen’s Birthday honour just under dame hood, surely she was the one to bring NZ the brilliant English ways!

      • Teachersrock

        Yeaaaaa, it is a good thing she is gone. She was heading towards being as big a disaster for kiwi kids and their education as the current National government is.

        • In Vino Veritas

          The only disaster Teachers, is that people with ideas like yours, get to teach any kids at all. National has done more for education in this country in 5 years that the last 20 years that Labour were in power.

          • Teachersrock

            More to ruin it. Luckily teachers will not allow National to turn us into the USA of the south pacific.

          • In Vino Veritas

            Teachers like you are in a small minority, do you realise that? Most have gotten on with the job. Only a tiny minority of schools are still kicking up a fuss because they have rabid principals – Perry Rush for example. Not one teacher I have spoken with believes that National Standards will reduce the learning of their students.

  • Josh Metcalfe

    Having spoken with a family friend who worked in the UK education system as a consultant. We don’t want to use the UK model, charter schools there are a failure. They do not produce better results and there are a whole raft of other issues with the UK charter schools as well.

    • Teachersrock

      Yep they are a failure as are the US ones.

      Yet despite all this National is going with it to keep John Banks and his one vote.

      • In Vino Veritas

        “a failure as are the US ones”. Straight from the Union propaganda book eh Teachers? Perhaps you should learn to think for yourself again.

        What about the 43 KIPP middle schools? BASIS Schools in Tuscon and Scottsdale, Arizona, the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology in Georgia, the Pacific Collegiate School in California and the International Studies Charter High School in Miami just to name a few of many, that are very successful? What about them Teachers?
        Teachers are becoming the Borg collective of NZ. You really need to get out of your Union while you still can. Hmm, perhaps its too late for you.

        • Teachersrock

          I suggest you do some more reading.

          On the whole CS’s are a failure worldwide.

          • In Vino Veritas

            Teachers, apparently unlike you, I have done some reading. Step away from your union propaganda and open your mind. You made the comment that US charter schools are a failure. I have have given a few examples of schools that are not, rebutting your comment. I could list charter schools from various countries that are successful. I could also list schools from NZ that are failures. Certain groups of students in NZ fail consistently, does this mean that “on the whole, schools in NZ are a failure”?
            You should admit that the only real fear that teachers and their unions have, is that National Standards show up dud teachers. And then there is the Unions most hated thing, performance pay.