Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Should trainee teachers that "fail" be allowed to continue working to QTS?

I have been teaching for nearly 14 years, and spent over a decade involved in training maths teachers in some guise or another. Like anyone involved in teacher training, I have seen trainees that have developed really quickly and by the end of the course have looked like they have been teaching for years. I have seen trainees that are badly struggling and clearly not suitable - most of them have deferred or left before the end of the course. But I have seen some that just need a little more time. They get on well with the assignments, they are professional in their approach, but for one reason or another they are not quite on track. Often it is due to struggling with behaviour, occasionally for other things, but they aren't far away. These trainees face a difficult choice - defer and return later, having perhaps done a bit more work in schools, give up and write off the year, or try and extend their training. But some are not in a position to defer, and it can be a bit of a stigma for having had to defer for anything other than a family situation. The costs involved in extra time at a University can also be prohibitive for some, and not all school based training can easily accommodate extension beyond a year.

Given our recruitment and retention problems in maths education at the minute, I wonder if it is not time to revisit trainees like this. Trainees that are not quite going to get there in a year, but could well get there. Trainees that have completed the theory work, but need more time on the practical. People that are invested in teaching maths, that really want to make it happen, but just need a bit longer to work on it.

I wonder if it should be possible for a trainee in this position to get a job in a school, perhaps initially as an unqualified teacher, but to be able to continue working towards QTS through their training establishment. They could then achieve QTS at any point in the year, at which time they could move to the qualified pay scale.

This is by no mean a fully fleshed out thought. What would happen if a "failed" trainee couldn't find a job? How long before they have to start from scratch? What would happen if they did get a job, but didn't achieve QTS within a year? Should they be be allowed to keep going? And again, if so, for how long? But I still wonder if we could find ways of answering these (and other) questions that we might not be able to bring more committed people into the profession. The idea also speaks to my values as a teacher and trainer, I would always much rather work with and support someone who is struggling than dismiss them.

I would welcome thoughts on this idea, how we might answer the questions, and what other issues would need tackling, or even just whether people agree or disagree that this idea has merit.

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