Your child’s teacher could soon be an undergraduate on £3.50 an hour

The Guardian reports that Justine Greening, the education secretary, last week announced plans to offer a “degree apprenticeship” teacher training course. This will involve four days a week working in a school and one at university, leading to a university-accredited teaching degree. For graduates, it will take 18 months. A longer course for people without a degree is also brewing.

There are already 16 separate routes into teaching. The National Audit Office last year lambasted the government for the complexity of the pathways and warned that this was putting off people who wanted to become teachers. So adding two more new ways to become a teacher, then, seems ridiculous. What is the point?

Greening’s reasoning is that she wants to create a new “skills revolution”. In reality, though, this is simply part of an existing policy, the apprenticeship levy, trying to force more employers to train staff. All large employers, including most schools, must pay this additional tax based on their wage bill. Tesco pays it. Manchester United pays it. The money is reclaimable as funds towards apprenticeships. All publicly funded bodies with more than 250 employees must hire a specific number of new apprentices every year.

Politicians are claiming this will help a purported army of non-graduate, under-valued teaching assistants desperate to become teachers who can’t afford a first degree. “A lot of them are single mums and priced out of the university market,” one Conservative MP solemnly told me, apparently forgetting it was his party that whacked tuition fees up to £9,000, decimating mature student numbers.

If anyone can afford to take up the option, what will apprentices do during their four working days? There’s nothing to stop a school employing them as teachers from day one. At the end of the programme, there’s nothing to stop the school shooing away the (now qualified) teacher and replacing him or her with a new £3.50-an-hour trainee. There is no guarantee of a job, as many apprentices have found to their dismay.

If Greening wants to have a real revolution, these apprentices need better pay and a guaranteed job on completion, and there needs to be a reassurance for parents that apprentices are employed as teachers only once they have graduated. If done well, Greening’s plan will develop a new paid route into teaching for people who can’t afford a first degree or master’s. Done poorly, along current lines, it will mean a cycle of low-paid non-graduates teaching children full time.

Read the full article Your child’s teacher could soon be an undergraduate on £3.50 an hour

Do you agree? Should apprentices be guaranteed a job at the end of their training? Should schools be made to employ them for a minimum of a year? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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Categories: 1st POST, Employment, Higher Education, Teaching and Training.


  1. Gordon White

    This government is all about undermining the professional base of a rounded training to become a teacher and not educating teachers who will challenge fundamentals like the curriculum where necessary.

    Even my uni based One year PGCE had crucial elements likely to be missing from most ‘on the job’ training routes. Notably modules on Child Development, philosophy of education including alternative methods of schooling , sociology of education, psychology. I still use that background to positively critique what our education system has (destructively) become.

  2. Anonymous

    Anyone who thinks moves such as this and the chief inspector’s comments about too much testing aren’t linked should read this:

    In particular follow the link at the end of the article, where it says ‘see here’. Where big business, Murdoch et al are involved the target is control and money, not decent education. Classes of 100 with a couple of ‘learning assistants’ in charge. Fantasy? No, already happening in charter schools in the USA and on its way here. We’re sleepwalking into an education disaster.

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