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Tough Young Teachers

(38 Posts)
Mishap Sat 08-Feb-14 23:02:46

Anyone watching this? - it's on BBC 3.

Basically they are following 6 young trainee secondary school teachers, who are on the Teach First programme. They are all graduates and have 6 weeks training before being thrown in at the deep end and learning "on the job."

It has been quite disturbing, because of the lack of support and guidance they are getting, especially in the task of classroom management, some of which is going wrong because they are not being sufficiently clear with their classes and failing to pick up on those who are struggling. But they are also dealing with some problem city schools with pupils who would challenge the most experienced of teachers.

They are pleasant young people, but I am coming to the conclusion that the the scheme is fair neither to the aspiring teachers, nor to their pupils.

I was particularly concerned about the young male teacher who was asked to teach about sex and relationships. (his main subject was maths). He had a very strict religious take on it (which is to be respected) but admitted he knew noting about sex (never having done it) and he had a very narrow view on masturbation and managed to convey a sense of guilt about this to a group of pubertal young pupils. I do think the school should have made sure about what he was going to say and what his views were beforehand, so as to be sure that he might not set up guilt in young impressionable people. He did, to be fair to him, have the sense to ask one of the female trainee teachers to talk to the girls about periods - but it should not have been left to him to find his own way of covering this. He should have had proper guidance and assistance, and been able to talk beforehand about what the school's sex education policy is.

Aka Sat 08-Feb-14 23:06:48

I didn't see this Mishap but from what you say nothing has changed. Throw them in at the deep end and see why 20% give up in their first year. There is going to be a chronic shortage of teachers in the next decade.
If I was starting over again, in the 21st century, in the UK, I'd not choose teaching again.

Mishap Sat 08-Feb-14 23:13:45

This is the link aka. It would be interesting to know what you, as a teacher, think about this.

Aka Sat 08-Feb-14 23:20:28

Thanks for the link Mishap it's a tad late to watch it tonight but I'll catch it tomorrow. I can tell it has had a powerful effect on you. We did used to say that teaching was like working in a mushroom farm (they keep you in the dark and shovel s**t manure on you) shock

merlotgran Sat 08-Feb-14 23:25:45

There will be plenty of young people wanting to go into teaching when they realise they don't have the career options they once had.

Lambs to slaughter or a fresh approach?

janeainsworth Sun 09-Feb-14 04:36:27

I haven't seen the programme, but I think it's quite an insult to the teaching profession to suggest that six weeks' training is sufficient for someone to be able to teach, even if they are graduates.
Not fair on those who have got a degree and a PGCE, either.

Ariadne Sun 09-Feb-14 10:45:10

I agree, jane! Just because someone has a good degree doesn't mean they will make a good teacher without the usual rigorous training. I feel sorry for them, and sorrier for the schools, and even sorrier for the students.

Mishap Sun 09-Feb-14 11:15:55

I can see that it might represent a fresh approach - and I guess that is needed - but the absence of proper on the job support was very worrying. The pupils were missing out because the young trainees did not know what they were doing; and some were teaching GCSE classes. And the trainees themselves were under such stress - several, male and female, finished up in tears.

annodomini Sun 09-Feb-14 11:31:25

I didn't see this, but surely they should have had experienced mentors. In the high school where I was a governor, all NQTs were mentored usually by a line manager.

Aka Sun 09-Feb-14 11:36:13

Yes, I can see that Mishap, it's no way to learn how to put a lesson over and control the 'let's disrupt this lesson' brigade.

There's nothing wrong with people with degrees learning 'on the job' but this is just 'on the cheap'. There needs to be more time spent in the trainee teachers observing good practice and much more support and feed back.

nightowl Sun 09-Feb-14 12:00:28

I don't fully understand what makes these 'young people with good degrees' so special that they don't need proper training and support on the job. DD is currently halfway through a PGCE course and needed a good degree (in her case a first) to get onto it - as did all the others on her course. The cynic in me says this is just a cheap way of teaching children in very disadvantaged schools - thereby adding to those children's disadvantage. It's certainly no way to either produce or retain excellent teachers.

janeainsworth Sun 09-Feb-14 12:22:49

I'm reading Shirley Williams' autobiography 'Climbing the Bookshelves' at the moment and in it she comments that education provision has always had the problem of sudden changes in the demographic and how to respond quickly to it.
The period she was talking about was the post-war years when then baby boomers (yes us again!) increased the school population by something like 20% within a few years.
Ex-servicemen and women took crash courses in teaching to fill the gap and according to Shirley, 'became some of the best teachers the schools had ever had' - a rather fatuous comment I thought.
But it shows that the problem is not new, and that politicians think that a quick fix of barely-trained novices will be 'alright on the night' sad

Mamie Sun 09-Feb-14 12:32:37

I am no fan of Teach First, but I think the point is that they are meant to be very, very closely mentored and monitored. I have watched all of the programmes and can't decide if the young teachers are not getting the support that they should have or whether the editing of the programme just does not show it. I am a bit uncomfortable that in some cases it all feels a bit like missionary work. The second year Geography teacher is very good, though.
I am a bit shock at some of the SLT support.

Mishap Sun 09-Feb-14 12:57:31

The geog teacher is indeed good - but is this because she is a "born teacher" and has the right instincts; or is it the result of good support and mentoring?

It is always difficult to decide whether what you see on a TV programme has been edited to fit an agenda, but it certainly comes across as though the input from the mentors is judgemental rather than supportive.

It looks as though Teach First sees the programme as a reasonable reflection of what goes on, as they plug it a lot on their website - which surprised me, as it would put me right off to be honest!

They need to start with shared teaching, and acting as a TA, so that they can watch and learn and discuss with the experienced teacher afterwards what they have seen that works well and then they can look at why and how.

Some of them are seriously floundering and are not serving these already disadvantaged children well.

I am not judging these young people - there is no way I could cope with a class of unruly reluctant learners.

grannyactivist Sun 09-Feb-14 13:09:18

My daughter in law has a good degree and has worked for two years as a TA; on Tuesday she has an interview for a place on a PGCE course. Because of her work as a TA she has a good understanding of classroom dynamics, of the paperwork involved, and of the stresses and strains that a teacher's life entails. Her school is an academy, has an 'outstanding' Ofsted report and is a centre of excellence; so she has experience of seeing good teachers and good lessons - all underpinned by planning and preparation. All of that will stand her in good stead when it comes to her own experience in the classroom.
I do feel very sorry for these Teach First graduates who are plunged into inner city schools with such a paucity of experience. And yet, it's not hard to see that some of them are 'born' teachers, the geography teacher being one, who are able to hit the ground running. I also admire the fact that these young people could have had lucrative careers elsewhere and their reasoning for joining Teach First is to make a difference in society.

Mishap Sun 09-Feb-14 15:59:05

I too admired their commitment to doing something worthwhile, particularly as they mostly come from privileged backgrounds (one very privileged indeed!). I just worry that they are being sold short when it comes to proper support and professional advice.

durhamjen Sun 09-Feb-14 16:54:01

My son's partner did that, GA. After doing one year part time as an NQT after her PGCE, she is now happily back as a TA, knowing that when she goes home, she can spend time with her family, instead of all the extra stuff that TAs do not have to do.

nightowl Sun 09-Feb-14 17:03:22

I'm not convinced they could have had lucrative careers elsewhere. After all, we have discussed many times on here the difficulty graduates face finding employment now there are so many of them. Don't get me wrong, I do admire these young people's nerve and think they probably are going into this with good intentions. I'm not convinced that all of them see teaching as a long term career though. I've only heard Meryl (?) actually say that. Some of the participants (not just on the TV programme) may just see it as worth a shot, and good on their CV.

They have introduced a similar scheme for social workers. Heaven help them.

Mishap Sun 09-Feb-14 17:45:37

A similar scheme for SWs - heaven help us!

grannyactivist Sun 09-Feb-14 22:25:28

durhamjen the last time (as a school governor) we interviewed for TA posts the overwhelming majority of applicants were trained teachers who wanted to be in the classroom, but just didn't want any hassle. Higher level TA's are now regularly teaching and running after school clubs, but their pay is less than that of a domestic cleaner.

durhamjen Sun 09-Feb-14 22:34:00

Yes, GA. She has an MA as well as a BA in psychology. But she had to learn the hassle of the total teaching load before she decided that it was too much with two children, one with autism, to look after.

Iam64 Mon 10-Feb-14 08:50:49

Grannyactivist - yes, isn't it sad that the majority of applicants for TA posts are qualified teachers, who don't want to leave the classroom but have become exhausted by the paperwork/after school clubs etc. I just don't understand why anyone thinks that a brain good enough to lead to a 1st or 2.1 means the individual can become a teacher or social worker with no experience of the job. One of our daughters worked as a TA for a year, and then for a temp agency as a TA whilst completing her pgtc. During the period I managed a busy social work team, I was lucky to have bright young graduates who came straight in from qualifying, working alongside people who had the sw qualification but had been engineers, hair dressers, admin assistants, sailors, etc etc. Life experience, as well as work experience is what underpins so many good teachers or social workers. The idea of throwing a young maths grad into teaching sex education within weeks of starting the Teach First scheme - well, so unfair to him and to the pupils.

redeagle777 Fri 21-Feb-14 14:22:58

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janeainsworth Fri 21-Feb-14 14:25:21

Not a good idea to spam the forums, Pearsons. It tends to have the opposite effect to what you want.

GadaboutGran Fri 21-Feb-14 15:24:54

On the job teacher training has it's drawbacks too. My DD had several successful terms as a supply teacher in challenging schools so decided to train 'on-the-job'. after much conflicting advice from the Teacher training Agency, she found a placement, linked to a nearby University, as a dance teacher with an inner city school with challenging pupils. In this situation you really are thrown in at the deep end. The support from the school & University were appalling. She had to resort to the school Union rep on so many occasions because they broke the rules for trainees-e.g. she had 16 trips between sites instead of the max of 7, had to clear dinner tables so she could use the hall. They even made her take on Head of Dept duties and supervise PGCE trainees. Near the end of her year, the University decided she should have done PE as well as dance & said she needed to do another year. She said the school took part in so many Govt 'initiatives' they never had time to teach the normal curriculum. The preparation of lessons & reflection work afterwards was relentless at a time when a lot was going on in her personal life. One day she blew up & lost all confidence - & then had to take on the bullying from the LEA Officers & a useless NUT Officer who was meant to be acting on her behalf.