High-fliers who lose their jobs in the recession will be able to retrain as teachers in just six months – to the fury of teacher unions who said the profession could not be "picked up at the drop of a hat". And those who are particularly gifted could become headteachers within four years, under a controversial new fast-track route into the classroom announced today.The initiative, which is part of Labour's public service reforms, will from September halve the minimum time it takes to train as a qualified teacher in England from a year to six months.The unions, as is so often the case, are being rather imprecise with their criticism. Certainly you can't learn the job in six months - but you can't learn it in a year either - and the idea that teacher training college is the best place to do this is questionable, to say no more than that.
Rather, the insult lies in the idea that they would be able to learn it any quicker than anyone else. It isn't obvious why the government thinks this. There's some vague stuff about bankers being good at maths. Bit odd given the recent performance of the financial sector in recent times, you'd have thought. Crap at calculating risk - but they'll manage Key stages 1 and 2. Perhaps that's the logic?
Anyway, contrary to the unions' position, I think it's an excellent idea. Unwittingly, the government has fashioned a fitting punishment for failed bankers everywhere. Imagine going from being a Master of the Universe to attempting to subdue the track-suited fraternity in an inner-city school. I think the plan needs fleshing out a little though. Former bankers should be made to take classes in citizenship. Those of us already trained and experienced should be able to assess their performance and where necessary express our disapproval at substandard performance by pelting them with our bank statements and rotting vegetables. Then, after they trudge home with an aching heart and the smell of a decaying civilisation lingering on their clothes, they will be forced to listen to the opinions of every ill-informed blogger and journalist on the subject of education on a loop: "Vouchers are the answer - they have them in Sweden, don't you know?" Aaaargh!!!
I'll leave the final word to Jim Knight, Minister for Schools. He ministers to schools - hence the title:
"There are thousands of highly talented individuals in this country who are considering their next move, who want to do something challenging, rewarding, that is highly respected and where good people have great prospects," Knight said.Mr Knight, sadly, will never know how much comedy he's managed to pack into one sentence there.