Executive 'not qualified to train as a teacher'

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The Independent Online

A businessman who gave up a £65,000 salary to train as a teacher has been rejected because he does not have a GCSE in English. John Green, 55, was told by teacher training officials that he lacked the qualifications needed to teach even though he had an MBA and had worked as a part-time Open University tutor during his career as a senior executive for Xerox, the office equipment company.

Mr Green, from Marlow, Buckinghamshire, has also run management courses for headteachers and taught business studies to sixth-formers, and is studying for a postgraduate history degree. He left his 40-year business career to fulfil his ambition to teach business and economics and to "give something back" to society.

Teachers' leaders said it was scandalous that enthusiastic and well-qualified would-be teachers were being turned away while staff shortages reached critical levels. They criticised the Government for setting two sets of maths and English requirements for student teachers. Government regulations insist that all student teachers must have at least a C grade in English and maths GCSEs, or an equivalent qualification. This is on top of the new requirement to pass tests in English and maths during the training course.

Mr Green said: "I strongly believe that you should give something back in life and that's why I decided to go into secondary teaching." Mr Green left school aged 15 in 1960.He was due to start a postgraduate teaching training course at London University's Institute of Education next month but has been told he cannot start the course unless he pays £75 to sit the institute's GCSE-standard English exam.

"It was humiliating to be asked to take this exam in basic English," he said. "If the education system does not accept an MBA or postgraduate history degree as proof of a good standard of English then there is something wrong with the education system."

John Bangs, the National Union of Teachers' head of education, said: "There does not seem to be any reason to the Government's requirements. It makes no sense to turn away enthusiastic and well-qualified applicants when schools are desperately short of teachers."

A spokeswoman for the Institute of Education said: "We think Mr Greenwould make an excellent teacher and would like to be able to welcome him to the course. It is, however, a requirement of the Department for Education and Skills that applicants must give evidence they have at least a grade C in GCSE English language and maths, or equivalent."

A spokesman for the DfES said there could be no exceptions to the rule.