The Department for Education has just released a statement about free schools, which can be translated as saying:
Oi Clegg! Free schools: clue’s in the name. They don’t have to listen to what you or any other politician thinks about the curriculum and they’re as free as private schools to take on staff who have not gone through the QTS teacher training programme. So speculate as much as you like, Cleggy, about the liberties you’d like to extinguish after 2015. The genie of school freedom is out of the bottle and won’t be put back in under this government.
(My understanding is that David Laws is at one with Michael Gove over this, and made statements last week to this effect – I suspect Laws be just as appalled over the implications of Clegg’s overtures to the teaching unions). Gove is Education Secretary, Laws is schools minister – and here’s the official statement from the department which they run:-
‘Free schools are raising standards and giving parents more choice. They are run by teachers – not local bureaucrats or Westminster politicians – and are free to set their own curriculum, decide how they spend their money and employ who they think are the best people for the job. This Government is not going to take these freedoms away. Independent schools have always been able to hire brilliant people who have not got QTS. Free schools and academies now have the same freedoms as independent schools to hire great linguists, computer scientists, engineers and other specialists so they can inspire their pupils.’
The DfE also released the following information, to combat the union spin about ‘qualified’ teachers. CoffeeHousers may find it interesting:
Non-QTS teachers: The successful independent school sector has always taken the opportunity to employ teaching staff who do not hold QTS. Ensuring the highest quality of teaching is paramount to the success of each school. Head teachers know this, which is why we trust them to employ staff that they believe to be well-qualified for the job. All schools continue to be held accountable for the quality of teaching through Ofsted inspections and the publication of school performance data.
Examples of non-QTS teachers in independent and free schools: Independent schools:
Richard Cairns, Head master of Brighton College said:
‘I strongly believe that teachers are born not made and I will actively seek out teachers from all walks of life who have the potential to inspire children. At Brighton College, this year’s Sunday Times Independent School of the Year, we have 39 teachers without formal teaching qualifications, including me!
‘Some have come straight from university: our History and politics department has three recent graduates, all with Firsts from Oxford or Cambridge and all excellent teachers. Others have come from other careers: an investment analyst, a lawyer, a management consultant, a nuclear physicist and someone from the BBC.
‘Once teachers are in the school, they have a reduced teaching timetable to allow them to spend time observing other good teachers and are actively mentored. By the end of the year, they are, in our view, better trained than any PGCE student.’
Sevenoaks School. Katy Ricks, Head teacher of top independent school Sevenoaks, said:
‘The key aim for Heads in recruiting staff is quite simply to find the best possible person to do the job. While of course qualifications and experience will play a part in the selection process, in the end, I am seeking ability, enthusiasm and potential.’
‘As an untrained teacher myself, my own experience and those of my colleagues around me demonstrates clearly that good classroom practice, of course essential to being an outstanding teacher, can be learned on the job as long as there is a supportive framework within the school.’
Langley Free School appointed a professional actor as a drama teacher, and a professional singer for music. In an interview with The Independent, the head teacher, Jane Sculpher, speaking during the school holidays said:
‘Our drama teacher is off playing Cinderella in pantomime. The singing teacher will be away singing in Rome. They’re working at what they do. They’re not qualified teachers but they’ve been taught to degree level and are very, very able teachers.’
Batley Grammar School’s head of Geography is an Oxbridge graduate and taught at independent schools before joining Batley.
West London Free School has appointed the former Head of Classics at a renowned independent school, as their classics teacher. They have also appointed an artist with several degrees as an art teacher, as they felt her skills and experience would be a huge benefit to the pupils at the school.Tags: Free schools, Michael Gove, Nick Clegg