Pay fewer teachers more, says Hodge

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The Independent Online
SCHOOLS should employ fewer teachers, not more, so that those who are not up to the job are kept out of the profession, according to Margaret Hodge, influential chair of the Commons Select Committee on Education.

More classroom assistants should be employed, she says, and pupils given lessons on the Internet.

Her remarks come as the Government is trying to recruit more teachers through a pounds 1.5m advertising campaign.

Writing in the New Statesman, Ms Hodge - who has already infuriated teachers by suggesting that they should have shorter holidays - argues that in 10 years "the teachers' monopoly in the classroom will be brought to an end". In its place would be an elite force of well-paid, high-quality teachers, backed by trained assistants.

"If pupils are working from lessons on the Internet, a trained classroom assistant may be as useful as a teacher. At Thomas Telford City Technology College, students are already studying for their A-levels via the Internet. They can access lesson plans and even conduct science experiments without leaving home," she says.

Ms Hodge says people should not be accepted into teaching "purely to make up the numbers". One chemistry teacher had lost his pupils' respect to the extent that they locked him in a store cupboard.

With many students entering teacher training courses with only a C and two Ds at A-level, it is impossible to give teaching the status it deserves, she argues.

A spokeswoman for the National Union of Teachers said: "To assume that academic excellence is the same as highquality teaching shows that Ms Hodge fails to understand the dynamic of the profession."