Education: Your Views

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The Independent Online
Like Julian Hubbard ("You can't teach kids. You're too old", EDUCATION, 17 September), I am considering a career as a teacher. Like him I did a degree as a mature student - I was in my early thirties - and got a first. With British Academy funding, I then, like him, did a PhD. I completed my thesis some two weeks before the birth of my daughter.

Now, as she advances through infancy, I question how wise I would be to apply for a PGCE place. I foresee that I could, and probably would ,end up in Julian Hubbard's predicament: rejected because I am too old (early forties) and too academic.

There are two questions that the Teacher Training Agency and the Department for Education and Employment really must address.

1. Is teaching a suitable career for mature entrants? If the authorities deem that it is not, then so be it. Such a blanket decision would not be without precedent. Although people tend to feel uncomfortable about age discrimination, an age bar on entry to the teaching profession would probably find acceptance if the rationale behind it were carefully explained. Furthermore, as Julian Hubbard's sad story demonstrates, prospective mature entrants to the teaching profession have rather more to lose than more youthful candidates. If the evidence suggests that maturity (being in your late thirties/early forties) makes applicants unsuitable for a teaching career, then it would be humane of the TTA to act to save older people from humiliating rejections, not to mention clogging up the UCAS system.

2. Are there verifiable grounds for supposing that someone who is strong academically will be a weak teacher? Perhaps there are sound reasons for this belief. If they exist, let us hear them. If they do not, then perhaps the TTA and Ofsted could exert themselves to give the lie to the myth.


Long Ashton