Education has always been and always will be a political hot potato. It is the one subject that is sure to ignite fierce debate and the recent findings by the Labour Party indicating that over half a million of children in schools across England are being taught by unqualified teaching staff is sure to provide a basis for yet more argument and discussion.
What’s the Problem?
To some, the difference between a qualified member of teaching staff and an unqualified one is simply a piece of paper. For a teacher or a qualified teaching assistant, it simply shows that they have the knowledge, the skills and ability to work with children, young people and adult students too. Some would say that the real qualification depends on the subject and that there are many people who have a lot to offer within education but that a teaching qualification isn’t a necessity.
There are others that argue that it is a necessity. A teaching qualification allows standards in education not only to be maintained but driven forward. But why are unqualified teachers and other people making it into the classroom?
Again, the answers say some, lay in the political landscape. One of the biggest changes to hit education in England was academies and free schools. These were institutions that were set up and run by people that were not necessarily first and foremost teachers or headteachers. Under David Cameron, the Tories removed the need for anyone teaching in these schools to be qualified.
Thus, argue some, the floodgates were open with Labour announcing that 613,000 in state-funded are regularly being taught by people with no formal teaching qualification. Their experience in education may not be lacking, their intention may be good, they may the students at the forefront of every activity but it is a state of affairs that will set the education system back, say some.
Getting Qualified – The Obstacles
There is an abundance of teaching courses, or so it seems, and for a long time, securing a place on a teaching course was difficult. But there are obstacles and factors that put people off including;
With university fees and costs now an issue, many more people find accessing education and professional qualifications financially impossible. Not only do course fees have to be paid, many teaching qualifications are taught full-time and are college based, necessitating someone to give up their full-time job. For mature students with rent and mortgages to pay, this is difficult.
- Time consuming
Some teaching qualifications may only take an additional year, but it is an intense and all-consuming year of education. For students with families and other commitments, this is a difficult commitment to manage.
Pre-requisites in terms of qualifications set the bar high and whilst this has a steady impact on students entering the profession, it also rules out some people. As a result, some people feel that some teaching courses are not accessible to them.
As a profession, education across all sectors from primary to secondary, further and higher education along with special education provision is painted as a high-stress and high-challenge working environment. Long hours, coupled with an ever-changing curriculum and policies has left many teachers and teaching assistants drained. These are just some of the reasons why teachers are leaving the profession and why some people are not entering it.
- A Rewarding Career
Working in education, whether that is as a headteacher or teaching assistant, will see you plunged into a rewarding career. Days are busy and there is a lot to do. Every child and student you work with is unique, with their own stories and issues that they will look to you to help them with.
There are moments of euphoria as there are moments of tension. And it is important to be qualified. A professional teaching qualification, from a PGCE or diplomas from other teaching courses, empower you with the skills, the abilities and the attitude needed to help students grow, learn and flourish.
It helps you to learn the basics of behaviour management within a classroom or educational setting. It also helps you to understand some of the many emotional, social and behavioural difficulties that children and young people deal with alongside trying to learn and grow. It helps you understand what safe practice is when working with children, young people and vulnerable adults, and how to keep you safe within education.
Teaching courses and qualifications are valuable and important and with teaching courses online, you escape some of the limits and boundaries other courses present. So why not become a qualified teaching assistant with an online course, studied in your own time and at your pace?