Report backs teacher 'taster' plan

Durham Times: Teenagers should be given the chance to try their hands at teaching, MPs say Teenagers should be given the chance to try their hands at teaching, MPs say

Teenagers should be put in charge of lessons to encourage them to train as teachers, MPs have said.

"Teaching taster classes" should be offered to sixth-formers and undergraduates to show them the benefits of a career in the profession, according to the Commons Education Select Committee.

It also called for would-be teachers to be observed in the classroom before they are offered a training place to check their suitability for the job.

In a new report, the influential committee examined the best ways of recruiting and retaining the best teachers. Evidence has shown that very good teachers boost pupils' grades and make a significant difference to their students' future earnings, it said.

The report says that allowing young people to try out teaching could improve the quality of applicants and lead to a lower drop-out rate.

The Government should consider developing a formal "internship" system, similar to one run in Singapore, to allow youngsters to experience the "content, benefits and career potential" of teaching before committing to it. These "taster sessions" should include actual teaching, rather than just observing lessons, the committee said, with students given feedback afterwards.

"Applying to do teacher training is a 'high stakes' decision and the purpose of these sessions is to give people a chance to try out their own aptitude before committing," the report said.

"We believe this approach could help both deter some people who are not best suited to teaching and persuade others to consider it."

The committee also called for all teacher trainers to observe potential recruits in lessons before offering them a training place. The report says: "Our evidence was clear that teacher quality cannot be fully established without observing a candidate actually teach."

The MPs backed ministers' plans to toughen up the literacy and numeracy tests taken by trainee teachers but suggested caution over the introduction of a test of candidates' personal skills. The committee said it welcomed the idea but called for the Department for Education to publish details of what the test might include and keep it under close review.

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