Education Quandary: Will making teachers study for a Masters degree really improve the quality of teaching?

Hilary's advice

It might. I am convinced that improving teacher training is the single most important thing we can do to make better schools. But I have doubts about whether the Masters degree in teaching and learning, about to be piloted among some newly qualified teachers, is the right way to go about it.

These centre around whether a standardised qualification can ever be flexible enough to meet individual teachers' needs, and whether asking new teachers to undertake research, as part of this qualification, is the best use of their time and energy. I'm also concerned that the level of funding falls between two stools.

On the one hand, it doesn't come anywhere near that for top-quality Masters programmes, so to talk about "MBAs for teachers", as the Government has done, is disingenuous. On the other, the £30m allocated to the programme so far could have gone a long way towards providing a much-improved, flexible and targeted professional development programme for all teachers. I'm also worried that, yet again, this is an idea we've snitched from sainted Finland, in the belief that it will somehow give us the same kind of good schools that they have there, even though all kinds of other things are different about that country's education system.

But maybe I'm wrong on all counts. If the ultimate goal of an all-Masters profession gives teachers the status they deserve, and imbues them with improved professional skills then that will be very good news for all schoolchildren.



Readers' advice

I teach at a university and some of my younger colleagues have spent their whole lives in school and university. They hold PhDs (having gained a Masters along the way) and spend most of their time writing academic papers that are hardly read. They have no practical experience and nobody has taught them how to control a class.

Worse, they cannot bring themselves down to the level of the average undergraduate, so teaching and communication is a problem. Far from improving the quality of teaching, insisting that all teachers hold a Masters will completely destroy it.

Malcolm Howard

Surrey



Maybe some secondary teachers would benefit from a Masters, but if the Government is expecting nursery and primary teachers to study for one, too, they will quickly lose some of the best people from the profession. Teachers of younger children need completely different kinds of skills. To put them in an academic straitjacket will mean many of them leave.

Sylvia Pryke

Hampshire



I studied for an educational Masters, specialising in curriculum and instruction. After 10 years in the profession, it reinvigorated my teaching and increased my confidence. But I studied for it online, and I don't understand how practising teachers can undertake campus-based postgraduate courses. Pupils will suffer if teachers are always out of school, unless classes are scheduled at night, which is tough for those with family and other personal commitments.

Karen Cavanagh

Philadelphia, USA

My son is expected to get AAAA* in his A-levels, but has been rejected by medical schools at Cambridge, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and St Andrews. Is this an anti-English issue? If so, he would have applied to other English universities. Ironically, although we live in Essex, we are Scottish.



Send your replies, or any quandaries you would like to have addressed, to h.wilce@btinternet. com. Please include your postal address. Readers whose replies are printed will receive a Collins Paperback English Dictionary 5th Edition. Previous quandaries are online at www.hilarywilce.com. They can be searched by topic.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Senior Textiles / Fashion Technician

£22000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To contribute to the day-to-da...

Recruitment Genius: Health and Social Care NVQ Assessor

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: It is also essential that you p...

Recruitment Genius: ICT Infrastructure Manager

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Edinburgh city centre scho...

Recruitment Genius: Plumber

£30000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An independent boys' school sit...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate