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Protecting British kids from Australians

Great was the lamentation among the staff of the General Teaching Council when Michael Gove, Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for Education, decided to abolish it. Less great was the lamentation from pretty much anyone else. Teachers did not seem bothered.

In case you were wondering the GTC is…

Don’t go away! Sex! Nazis! Nazi sex! Oh, all right, no Nazi sex. But there are evil Australians, so keep reading.

… the GTC is an official body that regulates teachers. When talking to teachers it described itself as in some sense belonging to them; the equivalent of the British Medial Association or the Law Society. (Alas for teachers’ bank balances, it was not nearly as good at conspiring against the public as these two bodies are.) When talking to government it downplayed that aspect and up-played its aspect as a government-appointed regulator.

Anyway Mr Gove has said he will abolish it. A bloke called Martin Dean, co-chair of the Public and Commercial Services Union at the GTC, defended it in this Guardian article.

I was particularly struck by one of the arguments he used to bolster his claim that the GTC was a worthwhile body. He writes,

Gove should have been aware that the GTC has identified over 10,000 people who were teaching but not qualified, and has taken action to facilitate their removal from classrooms. We are still called upon by employers to clarify overseas-trained teachers’ professional qualifications, and we contact headteachers to inform them if one of their staff is not suitably qualified.

In other words the GTC tracked down ten thousand teachers against whom no complaint had been made and forced their schools to sack them, caring nothing for the disruption that caused to the education of the children they were teaching. Ten thousand people who were peacefully doing their jobs had their jobs taken away from them because they did not have the right pieces of paper. In most cases it was not even that these were unqualified teachers (not that I would care, but some people do); in fact most of them were qualified teachers, just not qualified in Britain. What the GTC has heroically put a stop to is the tradition, beneficial to school and teacher alike, of young teachers from Australia and New Zealand doing a few years in Britain before going home.

Consider again that these words were put forward by a member of the GTC in an effort to make people like it more.

Well done, Mr Gove. Now if you could just drop your own magical thinking and credentialism (he has proposed to “increase the status of teachers” by forbidding the profession to those with only a Third class degree*), you might turn out to be quite a useful education minister, in so far as such a thing can exist.

*CORRECTION: Commenter rosscoe says “I don’t think he’s said that people with a third can’t be teachers just that the tax payer won’t pay for their training.”

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21 comments to Protecting British kids from Australians

  • Many Australian professional associations (aided by governments) are legendary for the baroqueness of the requirements they impose on foreign members of their professions who want to work in Australia. (In some, instances historically, qualifications from a different Australian state would not be recognised, let alone from a different country). One feels a certain sense of “serves them right” if similar things then go in the other direction. One feels this quite incorrectly of course: two wrongs certainly do not make a right and there is no reason why individual workers and employers should suffer due to the protectionism of governments and the self-serving behaviour of bureaucrats.

  • rosscoe

    To be fair to Gove, I don’t think he’s said that people with a third can’t be teachers just that the tax payer won’t pay for their training.

  • But is the holder of a third from Oxbridge (or, more difficult, Imperial, UCL or LSE ) more deserving or not, to be trained in teaching of the masses, that the holder of a first from Newborough University?

    Best regards

  • Ok… enough is enough, this is scandalous misrepresentation! I want to read about evil Australian Nazi sex!

  • Stonyground

    Between 1962 and 1964 the resposibility for teaching me to read, write and count was entrusted to an unqualified teacher. Despite being an excellent teacher of four, five and six year olds, she was later forced to give up teaching due to her lack of formal qualifications. I can only assume that this was due to some kind of tightening up of regulations in the late sixties or early seventies.

    So far I have been cautiously optimistic about the ConDems’ start in reversing the stupidity that has been inflicted on us by New Labour. What baffles me is why they kept their intention to do so a secret.

  • Nuke Gray

    Alisa, how about some evil Nazi sex? I know it seems perverse to ask an Israeli about Naziism, but aren’t we attracted to the forbidden? (And can someone tell me about good Nazi sex?)
    As an Australian, though, I have to disappoint Perry- Aussie sex is always for Good, not Evil. There are laws against it, so there!

  • I am a teacher of English. In my last job, I was obliged to pay a month’s salary to my employer in order to do an in-house training course to get a pointless paper qualification (the CELTA). The job only lasted a few months anyway, so with hindsight I shouldn’t have bothered. Now, my present employer demands all teaching staff have a Master’s Degree in their area of expertise (this is owing to a new law in Ecuador affecting all teachers in Universities, even those who are not directly teaching degree courses, as is my case). I have an MA, but it’s one of those Mickey Mouse ones Oxbridge hands out in exchange for a consideration, so it doesn’t count. I have nothing against being qualified but it is a bit tiresome when one is approaching retirement to have to pay for a lot of bits of paper one is unlikely to have any further use for. As it happens, what the Spanish call “titulitis” has got to the point where a Communication Law aimed at gagging the private media in Ecuador in one of its various recent drafts proposed that no one should be allowed to write for a newspaper unless they had a degree in journalism. Since the State controls all university curricula this is quite a canny move. No doubt the idea did the rounds among totalitarian states before it got here, though I hadn’t come across it before.

  • veryretired

    I’m with Perry—less intellectualism, more sex.

  • veryretired: at your age, one must be realistic about these things.

    Go with what you’ve got. Cos you’ve got it in spades!

    Best regards

  • This issue, of the bureaucratisation of being educated (pun, intentional) has really got to me too.

    The issue of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is an interesting one. Once upon a time, one joined a professional institution and went to various lectures, seminars, and evening talks. Then it became necessary to collect bits of paper confirming one did these things often enough, and poor chairmen of local groups of professional bodies spend much of the late evening signing forms. Now we have ‘self-certification’, because they got fed up with too much of their lives being pointless form-signing.

    Again, when I graduated back in 1974, less than 10% of people went to university. Now it is approaching 50%, and other means are needed of ranking the people for intellectual suitability for the range of jobs available (and even further, slotting people adequately into the pecking order). However, as commented on by Endivio Roquefort I at July 6, 2010 02:12 AM, the bureaucrats require everyone to continually re-establish their ‘educational status’ according to the latest metric, rather than just stay with the one into which they put so much effort (or not) as they moved from youth to adulthood.

    Clearly these educational bureaucrats are not very well educated, perhaps even despite their qualifications. They certainly lack an appreciation of history, even to the extent of recognising that the past was different, in at least some respects, from the present.

    As for cost-effectiveness … well they wouldn’t want to put themselves out of their jobs.

    Best regards

  • The Jannie

    It would be more valuable to insist that the buggers have a qualification in common sense. It is sadly lacking in so many.

  • pete

    I’ll be glad to see the back of the GTC. It only seems to exist to take its subscription fee. It is part of Labour’s philosophy that the more you regulate and administer something the better and more efficient it will be.

  • rosscoe, thanks for your correction which I have added to the main post. Even if that is all they want to do, that “all” is quite bad enough – don’t want to give them further ideas.

    Perry and others,
    Be grateful I did not go with my original impulse and promise Nazis, sex and kittens. I refrained on grounds of taste and decency.

  • Dr Kevin Law

    personally i would liken the GTC more to the GMC (General Medical Council) rather than the BMA.

    the BMA is just a trade union where as the GMC is a auditing and controlling body.

  • Without wishing to sound unctuous, this is an excellent post. Short, to the point, and powerfully libertarian.

    Julius (jealous)

  • Nuke Gray

    Alisa, you have got to be kitting!

  • Dale Amon

    Ah, Natalie, …was that Sex Kittens of the Third Reich?

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    “I am a teacher of English…”
    Wanted: University lecturer, Shanghai. Must be Caucasian.
    And China’s a very long way.

  • Little Black Sambo

    I have an MA, but it’s one of those Mickey Mouse ones Oxbridge hands out

    You don’t get handed an MA from Oxbridge, you are admitted to it. It is a degree, the step from junior to senior status. It’s not a Mickey Mouse qualification, just something different.