Teachers 'should be top academics'

Every secondary school should have teachers who attended elite universities, Lord Adonis said today.

The former schools minister said it was "very difficult" to get pupils, particularly those from poorer areas, into top universities unless their teachers have studied at those institutions too.

Addressing the Independent Academies Association (IAA) conference in central London today, Lord Adonis said: "You need a good mix of teachers, of course, at any successful school, but you cannot be a successful school unless you at least have a certain proportion of your teachers who have themselves come from leading universities in to which you intend to send your best students."

He added that in his experience it is "very very difficult to send students on to top universities unless you have a certain proportion of your teachers who come from those universities themselves.

"Far too many schools, a good proportion in the bottom half of comprehensives, and still quite a few academies have no Oxbridge teachers and very few from leading universities."

Lord Adonis, who served first as schools ministers and then as Transport Secretary under Labour, said he had been taught by a teacher who went to his university, Oxford, who knew how to navigate the process and inspired him.

Teachers who have attended top universities know how admissions work and have good specialist subject knowledge, he said after the conference.

According to the latest official figures, just 40 poor students (those on Free Schools Meals which is a measure of poverty) went to Oxford or Cambridge last year, out of 80,000 who were eligible.

Lord Adonis warned delegates it would not be possible to transform admissions to top universities "unless you can develop a cadre of teachers in your own schools that have that background themselves."

Academies, and other secondaries, should do "whatever it takes" in terms of dealing directly with institutions, or signing up to Teach First.

Teach First is a scheme that trains top graduates from elite universities to teach in challenging secondary schools.

The scheme is recruiting 800 teachers this year, and this will grow to 1,200 by 2013/14, Lord Adonis said, meaning one in ten of all new teachers in secondary schools will be Teach First recruits.

Lord Adonis said there needed to be a "dramatic increase" in the number of academy students going to university, especially elite institutions.

This is the "biggest single development, above all others, that will transform social mobility in this country", he said.

He cited the example of Mossbourne Community Academy in east London which has helped 10 of its students to win Oxbridge places this year, saying there was "no reason" why others cannot do it.

Lord Adonis warned that the academies programme must expand rapidly because there are "still too many under-performing schools."

"We need to see many hundreds more academies and we need to see them over quite a short period of time," he said.

"Time will not wait. Every year that we leave these schools which are seriously under-performing, not delivering the goods, that is another generation of kids who are failed and its another big handicap to social mobility."

Lord Adonis, who was a pioneer of the academies programme under Tony Blair's Labour government, also repeated his calls for every university to sponsor an academy.

"Universities are always by definition the most successful and highest aspiration education institutions in the country," he said.

Speaking afterwards, he added: "The Government needs to be in dialogue with every university about sponsoring an academy and be prepared to help facilitate it."

At the moment a "handful" of institutions, including Nottingham University and University College London (UCL), have agreed to academy sponsorship.

Academies are semi-independent state schools, which receiving funding direct from Government. The programme was established under Mr Blair to transform under-performing secondaries in poor areas.

The new coalition Government extended the programme to allow any primary, secondary or special school in England to apply for the freedoms. There are currently around 400 academies.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'