Kristina Murkett

Teenage teachers won’t fix Britain’s classroom troubles

(Credit: Getty images)

Teaching in the UK is in trouble. Less than half the number of secondary school teachers required this year, a record low, have been recruited, according to government figures released last week. STEM (science, engineering, technology and maths) subjects are particularly struggling: we only have 17 per cent of our target number of physics teachers and 63 per cent of maths teachers (down from 88 per cent last year). Yet this is a problem across the curriculum: the only subjects where the government met its targets were classics, PE and history.

Teach First, the largest teacher training programme in the UK, announced this weekend that in order to tackle this recruitment crisis it will consider being part of a new apprenticeship scheme for trainees as young as 18. The idea is that these trainee teachers would pay no tuition fees and earn a salary as they worked, thereby hopefully attracting school-leavers who are put off by the cost of a degree. Teach First itself has been struggling in recent years: last year it recruited the lowest number of trainees in four years, missing its target by one-fifth.

Having teachers and students who are potentially only a few months apart in age is a very strange relationship dynamic

There are obvious safeguarding issues with this proposal: having teachers and students who are potentially only a few months apart in age is a very strange relationship dynamic. I remember when I first started teaching, aged 21, that I thought my relative youth would make it easier for me to build relationships with the students. To some extent this was true, yet it also made it harder for me to exert authority. My relative lack of life experience did not help matters either.

Teaching apprenticeships could also erode the status of the profession even further.

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