According to a report in the Daily Mail, as quoted by the LGiU at the weekend, the Teaching Schools Council wants to see the first teaching apprenticeship scheme for 18-year-olds, which would see these youngsters go straight into the classroom as trainee teachers. Now if you are not familiar with the Teaching Schools Council, a government backed organisation, Schools Week did a good background story on the organisation in June this year that can be found at: http://schoolsweek.co.uk/a-closer-look-at-the-teaching-schools-council/
The Daily Mail story, coming as it does in August, looks a bit like government kite flying. However, is it worth considering further? Take Physics as a subject where schools struggle to recruit enough teachers. Even though most of the degree courses are no longer concentrated in Russell Group universities, many other courses are four years in length necessitating extra tuition fee debt. There are also a very small number of undergraduate QTS courses in Physics or Physics with mathematics on offer for 2017. All this means that students missing the points score necessary to attend most Russell Group universities do have opportunities to Physics at university. However, whether there are enough places to satisfy demand outside of the teaching profession is something that needs to be considered.
So, does the Teaching School Council’s idea have merit? It certainly seems worth discussing further. However, an apprenticeship not linked to a degree as an outcome isn’t likely to find much favour across a profession that struggled so long and hard to move away from the pupil-teacher apprentice model that operated for so long in the elementary school sector that was the main type of schooling for the masses before the 1944 Education Act created the break at eleven.
The academic content issue of an apprenticeship must be dealt with to satisfy organisations such as the Institute of Physics. If they allowed student membership for these apprentices that might go a long way to guarantee standards and reassure the profession as a whole. However, there may well be other objections. Does the single apprentice model work or are apprenticeships more likely to succeed where there are a group of young people studying together, helping each other and challenging themselves to continue with the programme when they feel down, as inevitably happens from time to time.
If you start putting groups of these apprentices together in a teaching school, does that start to look like the old monotechnic training colleges that the Robbins Report was so concerned about in the 1960s and that led to the policy of moving employer-controlled training into higher education and away from the local authorities and the churches? The roots of that system can still be seen in the heritage of universities such as Worcester and Lincoln’s Bishop Grosseteste university.
So, is it ‘back to the future’ as with grammar schools? It is worth noting that Sir Andrew Carter is, according to the Schools Week article, on the Council of the Teaching Schools Council. He is certainly an advocate of the ‘grow you own style’ of teacher preparation, so the suggestion needs to be taken seriously. Perhaps it marks a new direction for School Direct and a new role for Teaching Schools?