Sunday, August 07, 2016

British children taught by trainee teachers who don't even have an A-level in their subject

Children face being taught maths, physics and biology by teachers who do not have A-levels in their specialist subjects, shock research reveals.

Nearly two out of five trainee maths teachers did not study it beyond GCSE, according to figures analysed by Labour.

More than half of biology teacher trainees do not have a qualification in the subject.

And a quarter of students studying to teach physics do not have physics A-level.

Labour said the revelations made a mockery of Tory promises to make Britain a world leader in maths, science and engineering.

The stats come two weeks before tens of thousands of students collect their A-level results.

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said: “These figures show just how desperate the Tory teacher crisis has become.

“Far from their promises to ‘lead the world in maths and science’, the Tories have been forced to recruit trainees to teach subjects that they themselves do not have qualifications in. “How can we ever hope to inspire children to study maths and science in further education when not even their teachers have?

The stats were quietly uploaded onto a Government website last week, after MPs had left Westminster for the summer recess.

They show that a growing number of teachers hoping to school kids in maths and chemistry have not got either A-levels or AS-levels in their chosen topic.

In 2013-14, 27% of maths teacher trainees did not have higher qualifications than GCSEs in the subject. But that climbed to 38% in 2014-15. Similarly 23% of would-be chemistry teachers did not have either A-level or AS-level chemistry in 2014-15 - a figure that jumped to 33% a year later.

The Tories had promised to put the quality of maths teaching and education at the top of their agenda.

Last year’s general election manifesto said: “We aim to make Britain the best place in the world to study maths, science and engineering ... To help achieve this, we will train an extra 17,500 maths and physics teachers over the next five years.”

In February, Whitehall watchdog the National Audit Office found ministers had missed their trainee teacher recruitment targets for the last four years in a row.

Between 2011 and 2014 the number of teachers leaving the profession rocketed by 11%.

And the proportion of those who chose to leave the classroom before retiring leapt from 64% to 75%.

A Department of Education spokesman said: “These figures are misleading. “Undergraduate teacher trainees represents a very small proportion of the overall cohort, with the vast majority of entrants holding a degree.

“The quality of those trainees continues to be high. A record proportion – 18% – of those in postgraduate teacher training in 2015/16 held a first-class degree.

“Recent statistics show that more than 70% of lessons in maths, English, most science subjects, geography, French and German are taught by teachers with relevant post A level qualifications.”


Homeschoolers Aren’t Waiting on Politicians’ Promises of School Choice

Teaching your own kids is a do-it-yourself option for an individualistic age

J.D. Tuccille

Donald Trump managed to sound at least one encouraging note at a Republican convention focused more on fueling fears then empowering individuals. "We will rescue kids from failing schools by helping their parents send them to a safe school of their choice," he boasted in his acceptance speech.

Well, OK. The reference to "safe school" does put the emphasis on danger rather than education, but at least Trump called for parental choice. And Donald Trump Jr. compared public schools to "Soviet Era department stores that are run for the benefit of the clerks and not the customers, for the teachers and the administrators and not the students." He went on to call for choice and competition.

That sounds great for those of us who like options, especially with a new school year looming. And Americans have been embracing education choices—we've seen high-profile growth in the number of children attending privately-managed, publicly-funded charter schools, from 800,000 kids in 2003-2004 to 2.5 million, or 5.1 percent of total public school enrollment, in 2013-2014. That's sparked a lot of debate about the effectiveness of charter schools and the desirability (yes, really) of letting motivated families flee faltering public institutions.

More quietly, though, many American families have opted out of institutional education of any sort, taking on the responsibility of teaching their own children. From 1.1 million kids in 2003, the ranks of the homeschooled increased to 1.8 million in 2012—and an estimated 2.3 million this year, catching up quickly with the charter population. Homeschooled children outnumbered those enrolled in North Carolina's private schools as of 2014 after a whopping 27 percent increase in just two years.

My son is part of the surge in the number of children learning at home. The reason for our choice is ably captured in a point made by John Taylor Gatto, a former New York State Teacher of the Year who became a critic of government-controlled education. In his 2008 book, Weapons of Mass Instruction, Gatto wrote about the difference between schooling and education. "Education is a matter of self-mastery, first; then self-enlargement, even self-transcendance—as all possibilities of the human spirit open themselves into zones for exploration and understanding. There are points where the two conditions inform one another, but in schooling, somebody else's agenda is always uppermost."

You could say the same of any institution—that its interests overwhelm the individual concerns of the people within it. But that's why it's always a good idea to have alternatives and an exit strategy for when "somebody else's agenda" is incompatible with your own.

Such incompatibility has become a serious concern even with popular charter schools. Aside from the fact that there's always a potential mismatch between a family's priorities and a school's, even in an independently operated institution, charter schools face growing regulatory burdens that push them to consolidate and homogenize. Controversial national education standards have added to that burden, since they fall on charter schools as well as traditional public schools. "Some 2 million families have decided that charter schools are the best place for their children," the Goldwater Institute's Jonathan Butcher warned. "But under Common Core, these schools' options for differentiating themselves could be limited."

As of yet, homeschoolers face no comparable regulatory threats. Opposition to Common Core was part of the inspiration for the surge in homeschooling in North Carolina, according to the Charlotte Observer, and the same phenomenon is at work across the country. Rather than expend their time and energy battling to change a stubborn institution (North Carolina officials spent a year investigating a replacement for Common Core before deciding to keep the standards in place), parents walked out the doors and took on the task of education themselves.

Not that homeschooling parents all have the same motivation. As befits a DIY movement encompassing millions of Americans, people have different reasons for taking on the responsibility and different ways of getting it done. Once known as a domain for the religious (and a few hippies), the number of homeschoolers reporting "a desire to provide religious instruction" as a motivating reason dropped from 83 percent in 2006-2007 to 64 percent in 2011-2012. "[T]he face of home schooling is changing, not because of faith, but because of what parents see as shortcomings in public and private schools," USA Today reported in 2012. "[T]he movement is deepening its mainstream roots," Reuters agreed, and that mainstreaming is likely to continue since most homeschooled adults appear to be happy with their experience. "About three-quarters of a sample of home-educated students who are now adults raising their own children are opting to home school."

That satisfaction may be derived in part from the academic success achieved by many homechooled students who "score, on average, at the 84th to 89th percentile" on tests. That's pretty impressive when you consider that a good many homeschoolers deemphasize grades and standardized testing, which are most useful for assessing masses of students within institutions, not individual learners.

Old concerns that homeschooled kids are locked away from interaction with the rest of the world—probably derived from the days when the practice was illegal and had to be done in secret—have faded as kids taught by their families have become more common and recognized as obviously normal (as "normal" as anybody else that is). "Research shows that in terms of self-concept, self-esteem and the ability to get along in groups, homeschoolers do just as well as their public school peers," according to Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute.

And maybe homeschooling—DIY education—is the right movement for an increasingly diverse country suspicious of large institutions. In an America of proliferating news sources, gigs replacing jobs, fragmenting political parties, and myriad religious beliefs, why wouldn't people see teaching their own kids as one more thing they can do better than the powers-that-be?

So let's hope that Donald Trump means what he says about educational choice if he takes up residence in the White House next year. It would be nice to think that there's one area where he'll actually expand our liberty. But millions of Americans aren't waiting on politicians to offer them a few more options for teaching their children—they're doing it themselves.


Australia:  Police threatening to charge parents for letting kids walk to school

This is ridiculous.  When I was a kid I always walked to school by myself. Most of us did. It would not be wise in a large city these days but is still reasonable in a small country town where everybody knows everybody

DO your kids walk or ride to school by themselves? If so, you’re breaking the law, as one Queensland parent recently found out the hard way.

A parent in the small rural Queensland town of Miles, which is near Chinchilla, has recently been charged by police for breaching the criminal code in relation to child supervision.

Other parents have reacted strongly after a police notice about the crime, and the charge, was included in a newsletter at a rural Queensland school.

The notice from Miles police said that in the first few weeks of the school term, they had noticed a number of children under 12 walking or riding to school without ‘proper’ supervision.

It then goes on to quote section 364A of the Queensland Criminal Code, which says: “A person who, having the lawful care or charge of a child under 12 years, leaves the child for an unreasonable time without making reasonable provision for the supervision and care of the child during that time commits a misdemeanour. Maximum Penalty — 3 years imprisonment.”

The notice said police had laid criminal charges against a local parent and warned that others could face prosecution. “We are determined to provide the safest possible environment for our kids and our community and we ask everyone to play their part,” the notice said.

A Facebook post on the issue from a shocked Miles mum has been shared almost 1000 times.

Among the comments on the post is speculation about a possible specific reason for the police action.

Responding to a tweet from The Today Show, which aired a segment on the issue this morning, Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said there was “more to this story”.

He defended the officer who placed the notice, saying they were trying to “be proactive & keep kids safe”.


No comments: