Train to be a teacher – in six months

By Alex Stevenson

Those who have lost their jobs because of the recession could be teaching in schools within six months under a fast-track training scheme announced today.

The initiative, unveiled as part of the government’s public services reform agenda, will help the highest-performing mid-career candidates who have lost jobs to become qualified teachers within half a year.

It is hoped subject areas like science or maths where there are currently shortages will be boosted by those who have been made redundant because of the economic downturn.

Those “with several years of professional experience, in areas such as financial services or high-tech industries” are being targeted.

Schools minister Jim Knight said: “There are thousands of highly talented individuals in this country who are considering their next move, who want to do something challenging, rewarding, that is highly respected and where good people have great prospects.

“My message to them is to see what they can offer teaching and what teaching can offer them.”

Acting general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), Christine Blower, however, described the six months’ training scheme as “nonsense”.

Talking on the Today programme this morning, Ms Blower said “It doesn’t seem to me to be a sensible idea at all.

“In a downturn lots of people come into teaching and some of them stay. But in the past we have never said that they can whip in after six months and be qualified.

“I think it demeans the position of people who are teachers at the moment and it certainly undermines what is the importance of a profession which is that people have to understand not just the curriculum, not just about behaviour management, but how teaching works with young people.”

Details of the course will be finalised over the coming months. But it is hoped by next year an initial ‘summer school’ preparing would-be teachers for work will be operational.

Short placements in schools and selection for the programme by an ‘agent’ are also being considered. The scheme is likely to sit alongside existing teaching recruitment efforts like Teach First.

The government is also announcing today other proposals to improve education in England.

Accelerate to Headship will be launched in September 2010 in a bid to enable outstanding people to become school leaders within four years.

Over 140,000 pupils will be offered one-to-one catch-up tuition in English and maths in the next school year.

And parents will be handed additional childcare support with 3,000 children’s centres offering support to 2.4 million families.