Lecturers should need a teaching qualification, says NUS president
On 22nd April 2012 the Guardian revealed a call by the NUS (National Union of Students) to make all university lecturers qualified teachers. NUS president Liam Burns was quoted as saying that it was “astonishing” that it wasn’t already a legal obligation for those who teach in higher education to have professional qualifications. An area of concern is the increasing use of post-graduate students to deliver lectures and seminars by cash strapped universities and colleges. Their view echoes the recommendation of the university funding review by Lord Browne in 2010 but this proposal was abandoned after objections were raised by the universities because they felt that it would compromise their institutional independence.
Should All Those Who Teach, Lecture or Tutor Have Professional Qualifications?
Yes! We wholeheartedly agree with the views expressed by both the NUS and Lord Browne. It is of great concern that post-graduate students are being used to deliver lectures in colleges and universities. But it is not only in higher and further education where we are seeing this worrying trend in the use of unqualified people delivering lessons. It is also becoming more and more common for primary schools to use teaching assistants to cover lessons during teachers’ absences rather than paying for supply teachers.
Why Are Schools, Colleges and Universities Using Unqualified Staff?
It is understandable, to a certain extent, that they are making use of unqualified personnel and it does appear to make sense on some levels.
- The argument for universities is that post-graduates have a proven sound knowledge of their subject which they can then pass on to their younger under-graduate colleagues.
- In primary schools, the use of teaching assistants (TAs) allows for stability for the children because they are being taught by somebody who they already know. And the teaching assistant will already have an understanding of the current curriculum that is being covered and therefore find it easier to step into the breach.
- It is cheaper to use non-qualified staff and this cuts down on personnel costs for cash-starved educational establishments.
What Is Wrong With Using Unqualified Staff To Teach?
The main issue with this, is the widely held and incorrect assumption that having a sound knowledge of a subject enables you to teach it. Knowing your facts and being able to impart them effectively are two different things entirely. Anyone who has watched E4’s The Big Bang Theory and witnessed the genius Dr Sheldon Cooper’s wholly inadequate efforts to lecture students in his area of expertise will be able to relate to this immediately. Teachers go through 3 to 4 years of study in order to understand the principles of how people learn, how to put together effective lessons and how to assess the progress that has been made by their students. A good teacher can then tailor their planning and teaching methods to suit the needs of their student/s according to ability, learning styles and how well or otherwise they have understood the topic.
No-one, however great an expert they may be in their field, will have these skills at their fingertips if they haven’t been trained to teach. Therefore, to use unqualified and untrained people in the classroom or lecture theatre means that students are not being taught adequately and are receiving a sub-standard education. It is worth noting that with many primary schools now using TAs for teaching cover for 2.5 hours of PPA (planning, preparation and assessment) time each week a child is, on average, losing a month’s worth of qualified teaching time each year.
A further cause for concern is the fact that under current regulations anyone in the United Kingdom can set up in business as a tutor regardless of their educational training or qualifications. At Kip McGrath Education Centres we recognise the need for the skills and teaching knowledge that accompany a professional teaching qualification in order to teach children effectively. We believe that in order to improve education standards and maximise the potential for all children they must be taught by qualified professionals at every stage of their learning career. That is why at Kip McGrath we guarantee that all our students are always taught by qualified teachers.
Filed under: Education News Insights | Tagged: Browne Review, Kip Mcgrath, Kip McGrath Education Centres, Liam Burns, National Union of Students, NUS, Qualified Teachers, Scunthorpe, Teaching Standards, tutoring, University Funding | 1 Comment »