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Behaviour management, lesson preparation and the importance of confidentiality – all you need to be a teacher in Gerrards Cross

April 29th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Here is a curious story from the Guardian web site.

“A school is employing sixth formers as supply teachers because of a shortage of qualified staff. Chalfonts community college in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, pays its 16-, 17- and 18-year-old sixth formers £5 for each 50-minute class they take. The 24 teenagers follow teachers’ lesson plans, instructing 11- to 16-year-olds in subjects they may no longer take themselves.

The school trains them in behaviour management, lesson preparation and the importance of confidentiality. An older adult is with them in the classroom, but may not be a trained teacher and does not take the lesson. The school is thought to be the only one in the UK to have taken this approach to supply teacher shortages.

…..John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers, said there was “every argument for older pupils to mentor younger ones”, but they should not be used as “quasi-supply staff”.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families said the system was acceptable “as long as the sixth former is under the direction and supervision of a qualified person and is adhering to the lesson plan devised by the class teacher”.”

As regular readers of this blog will know I have no problem with the idea of peer learning. But if the students are doing the work of teachers why should they not be paid the going rate for the job. 5 pound an hour is a rip off. And still more curious is the schools idea of what training the students need to teach – behaviour management, lesson preparation and the importance of confidentiality. Nothing about teaching and learning. Or rather ‘teaching by numbers’. Is this really what makes a good teacher?

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One Response to “Behaviour management, lesson preparation and the importance of confidentiality – all you need to be a teacher in Gerrards Cross”

  1. Mike says:

    Oh this is such a terrible story ………. that I missed

    It has little to do with peer learning ……..

    As John Bangs so politely says “they should not be used as “quasi-supply staff””

    I wonder what they do when the men and women from Ofsted are in the building.

    I suspect that this story represents the tip of an enormous iceberg.

    This is little more than childminding, I wonder what the school in question does with the rest of the money in their supply budget …..

    According to the Principals new blog ( she has “been touched by the numerous emails of support from parents about our efforts to ensure that every lesson counts. Our students were absolutely fantastic yesterday and several refused the money offered to them by the press – I am just so impressed! I will make sure that I write about the scheme in the next newsletter but just to say for now the numerous positive feedback has deepened our commitment to this exciting innovation.”

    I’d love to know what subjects they are “teaching”

    The school newsletter contains this interesting snippet
    “Under the leadership of Laura Croucher, PE teacher, 24 Sixth Form students were trained to deliver cover lessons. Students have to be studying an A Level subject in the lesson which needs to be covered and they are expected to plan the day before. There is always an adult Cover Supervisor in the room. The vast majority of feedback from younger students report that they are learning in the absence of their usual teacher.”

    But they would say that wouldn’t they?

    I find the observation that they “are expected to plan the day before” interesting, don’t they have A levels to study?

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