Troops to Teachers: Politicians failed to recognise ‘complexity of teaching’

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
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Good article, but what you didn't point out was that more ex-service personnel went into teaching ...

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The apparent failure of the flagship Troops to Teachers initiative illustrates the problems of the common misconception that “anyone can teach” and that teaching is all about “crowd control”, it was said this week.

The Department for Education (DfE) scheme was launched by former education secretary Michael Gove with the aim of attracting 2,000 former military personnel into the classroom.

However, figures revealed in response to Parliamentary questions showed that 551 applications had been received for the programme, which began training in 2014.

Of these, 41 started the programme in its first year, 29 completed the training, and 28 have achieved qualified teacher status.

The DfE says that these graduates are the first cohort, having finished training last year, and that two further cohorts are currently being trained.

However, the National Union of Teachers said that ministers had failed to grasp the complexity of teaching when setting targets for the scheme.

General secretary Christine Blower said: “It has long been known that the headline-grabbing rhetoric of Troops to Teachers would not and has not translated into significant numbers entering the profession.

“Politicians – including education secretaries – have failed to recognise the complexity of teaching. They have it in mind that it is all a matter of discipline and crowd control.

“It is not the previous occupation of a teacher that matters but the training they receive. Government must learn from this lesson and refocus the whole system of teacher training, which is now too fractured and is missing its targets. They must also reinstate the importance of qualified teacher status.”

Meanwhile, Alison Ryan, senior policy advisor at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, added: “The government needs to learn that tackling the ever-growing teacher shortage is about making the profession a more attractive one to join, and stay in, rather than weakly supported but expensive gimmicks.

“We need a coherent teacher education programme, both for initial teacher training and CPD. This must be coupled with a serious attempt at reducing teacher workload and the government treating teachers as professionals with the respect and salaries they deserve.”

The figures come as the government faces a recruitment crisis in teaching. Secondary recruitment targets have not been hit for three years in succession now and figures from the autumn show that only 82 per cent of teacher places have been filled for the 2015/16 academic year. It means that there are more than 3,400 fewer secondary trainees entering the profession than are needed. Only three subjects across the board have hit their targets – history, English, and PE.

The National Association of Head Teachers warned that there were too many routes into teaching and that “piecemeal solutions” would not solve the crisis.

General secretary Russell Hobby said: “We expect the government to supply the basics for school leaders – funding, buildings and enough high-quality people. There are more than 20 separate pathways into teaching at present. The government’s lack of joined-up thinking is damaging children’s chances of doing well at school.”

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Hi Geoff, that's really interesting, have you got a source I could reference please. Thank you.
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Good article, but what you didn't point out was that more ex-service personnel went into teaching BEFORE Gove's initiative than have done as a result of it. Not only is this programme a failure, it has been worse than if he had left things alone.
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