Troops to Teachers

7 Jun

I feel slightly uneasy about the suggestion that ex-service personnel without degrees will be fast tracked into teaching. (This is in England only of course). Teaching is, and should remain, a graduate profession. We are constantly seeing the professionalism and abilities of teachers bashed by politicians. It is hard to understand why those same politicians believe that employing people without the required qualifications to the post will help?

Now, this is not to say that I do not believe that those with a military background would not make excellent teachers. I speak to teachers across Wales who come from all sorts of previous employment. At its core teaching is a fantastic and rewarding profession that should be open to people from all walks of life. A diversity of workforce is important. Someone with service experience could very well be a great role model in the classroom, in just the same way as someone who was previously a paramedic; doctor; police officer; lawyer; business owner and so on would be.

However, I’m not convinced that unqualified soldiers will make any better or worse teachers than anyone else who is unqualified. At the end of the day no parent should want their child taught by someone who is not qualified to do the job. Indeed, only 9% of parents responding to a survey carried out by the National Union of Teachers supported the use of unqualified teachers.

It is not just a question of being fair to students but also to those in teaching roles. A report conducted by the National Comprehensive Centre for Teacher Quality and Public Agenda showed that just 50% of alternative route teachers felt prepared for their first year in post compared to the 80% who had undergone traditional training. There was a noticeable difference also in how long the two routes expected to remain in the profession, with alternative route teachers far more likely to consider leaving teaching in a “year or two” after starting.

Can troops become good teachers? Of course they can. Can they do it without the right qualifications and training? Highly unlikely.

It is not fair on ex-service personnel to put them in a position where they are in roles that they are not equipped to carry out. It is certainly unfair to use the education of children as a way for the government to neglect the fundamental duty of care they owe veterans upon leaving the armed forces.

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