Combat to the Classrom?

I know I’ve appeared a little ranty in response to the news this week that members of the Armed Forces can join the profession unqualified, and complete their training without a degree in a matter of two years. I am blogging in an attempt to unpack this new development within the industry in a slightly less irate manner. Let us begin by looking at the facts, shall we?

So, if you are a member of the Armed Forces, and do not possess a degree, you may apply for the “Troops to Teachers” scheme. The application FAQ outlines that qualifications are necessary, but does not embellish as to what qualifications exactly.. Still not ranting. The US ran a incentive of the same name in 2008, but the requirements called for at least ten years service, and a degree qualification. At present,in am unable to source as to whether our incentive is running in response to the success of this one. I suppose that my key question is: how can we ensure that individuals lacking any experience in schools or with the previously essential qualifications are fit to teach children within our schools?

Ok, a bit ranty. I have had the equivalent of an seven year up hill paper round to get o the end of my training. I decided upon my career change, saved the funds that I would need to be out of work for a period of time, completed a three year English Literature degree and am now in the final days of my PGCE. Even with my qualifications and experience, I have encountered the most steep learning curve of my education to date, teaching myself linguistics for A level teaching, and re visiting aspects of my knowledge that were a little on the dusty side. If there were a pathway available to me to avoid all of that and simply complete two years training before embarking upon my NQT year, I would be listening. So, why is it that the details of the scheme are so difficult to unravel?

Lets work with what we’ve got form the highlights:

“You’ll be a good motivator with a positive can-do attitude: this will help you encourage your pupils in their learning and raise their aspirations.” Yes yes, positivity is key. I’m not sure that these skills are central to autonomy or class facilitation, but I will hold fire.

“You can communicate well: you’ll be able to give clear and concise instructions” I think I had this nailed about four weeks in. Carry on…

“You’re able to handle challenges: you know how to behave in unexpected situations and be a good role model.” Fight or flight is not how I would describe adapting to the needs of the classroom, but I will let that slide..

“You’ll have confidence and composure: this will earn you respect in the classroom.” We’ll see. We will jolly well see.

Ok, so I have a bit of an issue with this whole scenario. I will try not to generalise, or berate, or assume. However, there is absolutely no mention here of the relevant knowledge that would be required. There is no plea for creativity or educational experience (which if this were a PGCE, you wouldn’t even bother with the application form). In every article presented so far within the media, the central argument is that Army Veterans would be able to “control” our children. This is offensive or two levels; one, that we currently doing an inadequate job of behaviour management, and two, that this is the priority within education. With requirements simply outlining the completion of skills tests prior to interview, I am concerned at how you might approach the role of teaching to a level that you are not qualified to yourself.

I am not stating that members of the Armed Forces cannot teach; I am sure anyone with the qualifications that the profession has asked of its current teachers would, and has previously fulfilled the necessary requirements. What does not sit comfortably with me is this arrogant assumption that the role can be carried out by certain individuals with very little or no experience of working within the classroom and with less training. Watch this space.

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