Former schools chief says Tory teacher plan is 'utter red herring'

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The Independent Online

Holding a top-level degree pass is no guarantee of being a good teacher, the head of a major inquiry into teacher training will say today.

Sir Mike Tomlinson, the former chief schools inspector, will call for swift action to help those with experience of the world of work to come into schools to teach vocational subjects.

Too many are put off doing so because at present they would have to take a pay cut and work as instructors rather than qualified teachers, according to the inquiry by the Skills Commission, a body set up by Parliament with all-party support from MPs.

The report coincides with Conservative proposals to stiffen the entry requirements for would-be teachers so that only those with a 2:2 degree pass or better could come into the classroom.

However, Sir Mike told The Independent yesterday: "I think that is a total and utter red herring. A 2:1 degree holder may have a better knowledge and understanding of their subject but it doesn't follow that they will be a good teacher.

"We all know cases of those who are most able but cannot get their message across in the classroom."

Sir Mike said that he wanted experienced adults seeking a second career to be able to top up their qualifications to degree level without having to study for a university degree.

The inquiry said it was urgent to take action now that the distinctions between schools and further education colleges were becoming more blurred, with the introduction of the Government's flagship new diplomas and plans to force youngsters to stay on in education until 18.

The inquiry added that vocational teachers had been "relegated to the second division of teaching, often receiving lower wages and status than their academic counterparts in schools".

Another of the recommendations was for vocational teachers to undertake work placements so that they kept up-to-date with their subject specific knowledge.