Labour’s sexist jibe

This blog has been relatively quiet lately, partly because there have been few new numbers coming out of the DfE over the past month, and partly because the launch of TeachVac has been taking up a lot of my time. On that front, the team at TeachVac have now issued an amber warning in respect of English and Business Studies because we believe there will be insufficient trainee numbers to meet the demand from schools during this recruitment round. Design and Technology may join this list of subjects with such a warning this week if current trends in the advertising of vacancies continues.

As more trainees and teachers sign up for the matching service we are able to start identifying parts of the country where problems may be especially acute later in the recruitment round. The team at TeachVac have also identified that, as expected, independent schools and selective schools are more likely than other schools to advertise for teachers of the separate sciences rather than a teacher of science. As TeachVac is free to schools and trainees, all schools can try both and see what happens without fear of having wasted their money. For anyone unsure about the process there are helpful videos on both the schools and teacher pages demoing the system: just visit and hit the demo button.

TeachVac is a long way from members of religious orders as teachers: one of the issues of the moment. I cannot think why Labour’s Mr Hunt – does he really want the job he is doing or is he just going through the motions – talked or nuns and ignored the many men in Roman Catholic orders that have given their lives in the service of education throughout the world.

Until the early 1970s, the Roman Catholic Church along with the Anglicans and free churches in this country ran a number of training colleges for those wanting to become teachers.  By the way, Mr Hunt, the term training college went out of common use when university departments took over most of the colleges in the 1970s in a bid to improve academic standards for would-be teachers. Previously, there were some teachers that learnt on the job, and they weren’t restricted to members of religious orders as I have pointed out in relation to my own career history in education. Now there may be some untrained teachers left in the independent sector, and no doubt many parish priests that come into Roman Catholic schools haven’t had any formal training in teaching, but in the state-funded sector I am sure Ofsted would have commented if it had come across a large group of untrained staff acting as teachers.

The withdrawal of religious orders from headships in the primary sector over the past 30 years I have been studying the issue has undoubtedly been one of the reasons why Roman Catholic schools, especially in the primary sector, have struggled to recruit head teachers from the laity in sufficient numbers. The selfless devotion of those that take vows often allowed them to tackle the burden of headship with single-minded devotion. No doubt they were also willing to go where asked regardless of the type of school or its location. Teachers with families, partners and other community ties don’t have such freedom and it has affected the supply of head teachers in recent years. To date, we have seen no results from the government’s national leader scheme announced in the autumn of 2013 to overcome this problem. No doubt time will tell if it can succeed.

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