From education to employment

Leading Educationalist Reacts to the DfE Plans to Create Teaching Degree Apprenticeships

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Adam Caller, CEO of elite private tutoring company, Tutors International, offers his advice on the government’s plans to develop a new teaching degree apprenticeship.

Adam Caller is a renowned, international educational consultant and the CEO and Founder of Tutors International, the world-leader in the provision of high-quality, bespoke private tuition for UHNW Clients. Mr Caller has considerable experience in recruiting teachers for residential private tutoring jobs and is more than qualified to comment on the new teaching degree apprenticeship plans recently unveiled by the Department of Education (DfE). According to a recent article in the TES, applications to initial teacher training (ITT) courses have fallen by up to 37% over the last few years. To encourage more applicants into the profession, the DfE plans to work with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to develop a new degree and QTS (qualified teacher status) awarding apprenticeship. Essentially, students accepted onto the apprenticeship scheme without degrees can train to become fully qualified teachers while learning on the job.

The Problem with Non-Academic Degrees and Low Barriers to Entry

Mr Caller is not wholly against the government’s plans to offer those without teaching degrees a route into teaching but expressed some reservations:

“Having a teaching degree doesn’t mean someone is a good teacher. Just as not having a teaching degree doesn’t necessarily mean someone is a bad teacher. But what I have learned from recruiting teachers for 25 years is that of the two – qualified and unqualified teachers – a good teacher is more likely to come from the qualified group”.

“Primary school teachers are not required to have a university degree and, while not having a degree does not necessarily make someone a less competent teacher, some of the skills many educators learn in their university years, such as critical thinking and constructing a cohesive argument, are very desirable in the education of students, even with younger children. Sadly, primary teachers often don’t have degrees in the subjects they are required to teach. This fundamental lack of knowledge will inevitably be passed on to the pupil”.

“Over the years I’ve become increasingly dismayed at the level of graduates our universities turn out. Whilst this is not the case for all applicants, I have seen a notable drop in the quality of private tutor applications in recent years as the graduates of questionable degrees issued in the past decade struggle to adapt to the rigours of a professional career. The reality is that school leaders have been increasingly pressured to appoint staff who are less experienced or able than they would like, not just because of a lack of applications but also because of the quality of the applicants. The underlying problem is the historical trend of issuing non-academic degrees with low barriers to entry, and this has resulted in a generation ill-equipped to deal with the pressures and requirements of teaching roles today.”

The Importance of Maintaining Standards

The article on the DfE’s teaching apprenticeship plans excited a great deal of discussion from readers, which Mr Caller found very telling:

“Crucially, the most important measure of whether a teacher is good or not is their level of subject knowledge, especially in the core subjects such as English. What struck me most about many of the comments – particularly the comments that were in favour of the proposal – is just how many spelling and grammatical mistakes there were. If a teacher’s subject knowledge is inadequate then they will fail to teach pupils the essentials – correct grammar, spelling, arithmetic, and other building blocks for life-long learning and application”.

Mr Caller, who has been recruiting exceptional private tutors for clients around the world since 1999, expressed concerns on his personal blog that teachers looking to make the move into the private tutoring industry – particularly those of primary-aged children – were making glaring errors, and highlighted some of the red flags that could mean a resumé ends up on the ‘rejected’ pile:

“Based on the majority of CVs sent to me by tutoring job applicants in recent years, you would think that most of the UK is illiterate. I’ve had English language graduates apply for a job with us who have been unable to determine the difference between ‘to and ‘too’ and ‘your’ and ‘you’re’.  Or ‘their’, ‘there’, and ‘they’re’. I receive job applications from teachers who use inverted commas in the same way as apostrophes. Just this week I had an email from someone saying, ‘In my opinion life is to (sic) short to waist (sic) time for mistakes.’ How can pupils pass an English language exam if their teachers aren’t able to teach them how to spell, use grammar correctly, or construct an argument? It stands to reason that teachers who are better-qualified and who have comprehensive subject knowledge are more likely to get better academic results from their students”.

Disillusioned Teachers May Find Fulfilment in Private Tutoring

Mr Caller emphasises the point that the move towards private tutoring is more challenging for those without university degrees than for teachers with degrees in their subject, as the demands and requirements of full-time private tutoring involve an increased level of personal scrutiny. He also draws attention to the current teacher retention crisis in our schools and suggests that private tutoring has the potential to provide unhappy teachers with the flexibility and rewards they desire in order to keep them in a profession they are passionate about:

“Many teachers thrive as private tutors. At Tutors International we are always delighted to hear from enthusiastic educators who want to take the next step in their career and try their hand at private tutoring. Just as a traditional classroom is not suited to all students, this can also be true of teachers. Many go into the profession to make a difference and inspire their students, but the ever-increasing workload and responsibility placed on teachers in recent years have taken their toll. Teachers are often creative individuals and may find themselves stifled due to the volume of paperwork that is required of them in a traditional classroom role”.

“The flexibility of private tutoring allows for greater creativity in curriculum planning and delivery and a better work/life balance. The ability to focus on the student, observe their progress and connect on a more individual level is also highly rewarding. One-to-one, full-time tutoring and mentorship is highly rewarding, and we genuinely want you to succeed. Any teachers, primary or secondary, or tutors who are looking for help and advice on how to take the next step into private tutoring anywhere in the world, are welcome to contact us.”

Tutors International prides itself on its commitment to due diligence, and its thorough selecting and recruitment process. The company has matched and placed talented private tutors with families in a variety of situations and circumstances, in locations all over the world.

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