Sir Andrew Carter, leader of the government’s teacher training review, has said schools can help avoid a recruitment “crisis” by using virtual teachers from other countries and “embracing unqualified teachers”.
At an event about the future of the teaching workforce organised by think-tank Policy Exchange and teacher union ASCL, Sir Andrew described teacher training at the South Farnham School in Surrey where he is headteacher.
Each teacher rated “good or better” at the 758-pupil primary is matched to a trainee teacher who they mentor for a year, he said.
The academy has 150 trainee teachers overall and also employs 67 teaching assistants at the school: 58 of whom are graduates waiting to begin teacher training programmes.
Sir Andrew said his school constantly advertised for potential teachers, including on their website and via posters.
“One of the dogmas is around unqualified teachers – we should be embracing unqualified teachers, in my judgment, every day.”
Adding: “We are looking to increase the workforce, not decrease it. We bring in lots of people – NQTs, trainee teachers, classroom assistants.”
If every teacher that was good or better trained one teacher a year we would be over-supplied
He also advocated more peer-to-peer teacher training.
“If every teacher that was good or better in the land trained one teacher a year we would be over-supplied.
“This isn’t actually very hard to do. What is hard is when you want one or two groups to train 50, 600, 100 teachers and all the rest to be consumers. We are all in this together.”
Use of technology
Technology that beams teachers into classrooms could help schools overcome a dearth of teachers, Sir Andrew said.
When speaking to a French teacher struggling to fill vacancies he “suddenly realised there are 60 million in France, and we have technology, so why don’t we embrace technology and just have a French teacher come in on a screen?
Adding: “It may not be the best way, but a crisis is when you say ‘there’s no more French, children, go home!’”
His call echoes recent work at the academy trust United Learning, where pupils are now offered astronomy GCSE across the trust’s schools led by one specialist teacher via Skype.
Several delegates at the event raised teacher workload, with one audience member saying she wouldn’t wish “her worst enemy” to join the profession.
“Make sure teachers understand it’s okay to go home with just their car key”
Sir Andrew said teachers had a duty not to encourage others to work very long hours.
Systems could be created to lessen assessment loads, he said, adding: “Make sure teachers understand that it’s okay to go home with just their car key.
“One of the things we need to teach teachers is how to sample mark … [and] we need to teach teachers is that it’s okay to go the pictures on a Wednesday, or go the gym.
“What it isn’t okay is to come in at 9 until 4 – it isn’t that sort of job – but my teachers do 8 to 6.”
For more on the teacher shortage, see this week’s print edition of Schools Week