A focus on attracting older, more experienced professionals to teacher training could prove beneficial for the teaching profession as a whole, according to new Education Secretary, Damian Hinds.
Strength through experience and diversity – Education Secretary, Damian Hinds
Writing in The Times shortly after his appointment, the Minister for education expressed his support for the current diverse teacher training system that exists in England and Wales. He then went on to say that all generations should be encouraged to train as teachers. This would involve an increased focus on older, more experienced professionals to balance the existing systemic emphasis on graduate trainees who currently make up the vast majority of new teachers.
Mr Hinds has not laid out how he plans to make these changes, although he has praised a number of non-governmental organisations who provide special facilities and resources to older professionals looking to switch careers.
Teach First is one notable organisation to have begun shifting its focus toward older trainees in an attempt to appeal to a wider age group.
New thinking and problem solving in the classroom
Targeting a wider age group for teacher training could solve existing problems in teaching and teacher training, as well as bringing new benefits to education throughout the UK.
New teachers bringing broader experience from previous professions could be a huge boon to the teaching profession and to the pupils they teach, according to a range of groups who support the move to bring in a wider range of educators. One such organisation, Now Teach, stated that “Having teachers with transferable skills from other sectors will be beneficial to our … children, inspiring them to achieve their aspirations and to go as far as their talents will take them.”
Trainee teachers with experience from other sectors have the potential to bring not just skills and knowledge with them into teaching, but also new attitudes, perspectives and practices that could change the culture of teaching significantly. A broadening of horizons is never bad for a profession, but this isn’t the only reason for the change of focus.
It isn’t a secret that graduate trainees are in shorter supply than they once were. Graduate applications were down by one third in 2017, compared to 2016, and this is just the beginning of the story. Dropout rates have increased partly due to new, more demanding requirements for trainees. This has all led to a serious teacher shortage which Mr. Hinds and others believe could be eased by this new plan.
We will be waiting, along with many in the profession, to see how it unfolds and what kind of impact it will have.
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