Are minimum qualifications for teachers enough to ensure quality?

I suspect many parents have been pulled up short when they have seen, from the recent press coverage, that many of those charged with their children’s earliest care and education may not have even a grade C GCSE in English and maths. In a drive to improve the quality of teachers, the British government is introducing tougher minimum qualifications for those looking to join the profession. But do better grades make better teachers?

Are better qualifications important?

The whole issue of qualifications is a tricky one.  I am often asked by parents if all my mentors are all qualified teachers.  My honest reply is that they are all appropriately qualified for what they do and are fully MagiKats trained.  Let’s look at the whole issue more carefully.

Take scenario one:  I have a highly qualified maths teacher who is brilliant at getting all their pupils to achieve the very highest GCSE grades.  I also have another mentor; a mum who has worked with young children for over a decade, helping every one of them to understand and love numbers.  Both are trained MagiKats mentors.  Which is more suitable for my new student who, at age 5, already says they hate numeracy? Is it the maths teacher or the mum?

Or scenario two:  I have an ex deputy head from a high achieving local primary school who, having taken early retirement, is delighting in teaching my early years kids to read and write.  I also have a freelance writer with an English degree who has a knack of inspiring teenagers who are struggling to write creatively.  Both are trained MagiKats mentors.  Which is more suitable to help the distinctly reluctant 15 year old boy who has just been cajoled by his mum to come along to workshops? Is it the ex deputy head or the recent graduate?

Appropriate qualities are more important

In my view the correct choice of mentor for each student is obvious, and absolutely key to success!  Merely looking at qualifications would, in these cases, most likely leave the child working with someone not best equipped to support them.

Of course we have to have some way of selecting staff and specific qualifications are certainly a straight forward way to sifting applicants but are they really the non-negotiable be all and end all?  I think not.

Jan Lomas, Curriculum Director and MagiKats Principal