Letter: Teachers are taught the wrong things

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The Independent Online
Sir: It was with little surprise that I read that trainee teachers have lower A-level grades than any other group of university students (10 June). Ten years ago, having completed a first and higher degree at university, I took a one-year post-graduate primary teaching course at a college of higher education.

The warning signs were there at interview: the course director asked why someone like me (ie with a higher degree) wanted to teach primary age children. The course was extremely disappointing: intellectually undemanding, lacking in academic rigour and failing to provide really high-quality guidance in the complex skills of teaching. Too much time was spent playing with maths equipment, singing nursery rhymes and stapling pieces of paper neatly to walls and not enough on the really important things, such as how to address a class firmly and clearly, teach basic reading skills or deal with a disruptive child.

If this is what a one-year postgraduate course delivers then is it any wonder that anyone with high A-level grades looking for a challenging degree course is going to steer clear of a four-year BEd, the course that provides two-thirds of primary school teachers?

I suppose the real problem is that primary education is fundamentally regarded as glorified childminding, a nice little job for a woman earning a second income, rather than something which requires a lively, intelligent mind and a high level of organisational and management skills.

PENNY McGEE

Evercreech, Somerset

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