Do You Need to be ‘Qualified’ to be a Good Teacher?

Written by Ian Preston
2nd June 2015

k4954088 So what is more important to children at school, someone who has a certificate saying they are qualified to teach, but can’t; or someone that has no formal teaching qualification but is a great classroom practitioner who inspires and motivates children to learn as well as get results?

I spend a lot of my time now as a business coach working with individuals and businesses to make them better. I also deliver open workshops. People pay for these services, but they are not paying for the time I spend with them, they are paying for the VALUE I bring to that time.

I convey the experiences I have gained over a good number of years coupled with an intimate knowledge of the subject matter and share it in a way that I am told is interesting and easy to absorb and encourages people to self-learn and expand their own knowledge and skills.

Isn’t this beginning to sound a bit like teaching? Yet with the exception of attending a ‘Train the Trainer’ course some 20 years ago I have no formal qualifications to ‘teach’ or ‘coach’.

When I wear my governor’s hat as Chair of the Personnel Committee in an Academy on an interview panel I am looking for teachers who have a strong subject knowledge, obviously, but more importantly I am looking for someone who can communicate in such a way that engages and inspires students. The fact that they must have a teaching qualification is of minor relevance.

I was clerking a governors’ meeting recently where the subject of poor writing skills in the school was being discussed. I was amazed to discover from a staff governor who is a relatively new teacher that, when training, they are not taught how to teach writing skills! How useful!
Apparently 50% of maths teachers and 70% of physics teachers do not even have a degree in the subject they are teaching, yet because they have a ‘teaching qualification’ they are qualified to teach those subjects!

Another challenge we have is our young people being taught by people who have limited life skills outside of the education environment. They go on the classic treadmill of school – college/university – school. How are they ever going to relate what they are teaching to real life when they have little experience of it themselves outside a classroom?
One of the best appointments I ever made was of a primary NQT who became a mature student after a number of years in industry and commerce. He was a brilliant classroom practitioner because he could communicate and inspire. Needless to say in a very short time he moved onwards and upwards to eventually become Head in his own school where I have no doubt he is leading and inspiring teachers of the future.

So I ask the question again. Who would you rather have teaching your young ones: the great communicator who engages with and inspires students or the one who is ‘qualified’?

Unfortunately as long as we have the current band of union-minded, dyed-in-the-wool heads who insist that that there is no place in classrooms for unqualified teachers and that those that are qualified just need to do enough to get by to receive their automatic salary increase every year, I fear nothing will change.

Inspiration for this blog came from an article in the Daily Telegraph and the contributors Peter Kent, President of the ASCL, and Richard Cairns, Head of Brighton College.

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About Ian Preston

Ian is a leading Business Coach & Trainer and Keynote Speaker.

With over 25 years’ experience in sales, training and coaching, Ian’s passion is helping business owners discover better ways to do business. He is passionate about coaching individuals and companies to be better, whether it’s about using LinkedIn to generate more opportunities & sales, working in education to improve governing bodies or providing coaching to deliver stunning sales performance.

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