Lessons for England from Finland

In a week that produced figures showing that 40% of trainees have quit teaching after one year there is clearly much wrong with the way we attract and train teachers. This figure represents a huge wastage cost to the nation’s hard pressed finances not to mention the disruption to schools. The shortage of teachers is a very serious problem currently being kept under the carpet, but sooner of later will surely manifest itself. No doubt the inevitable impact on school performance will be used as an excuse for further state control of both schools and the curriculum. This will likely make the problem worse.
Finland has often been held up as a model (one often rejected in the UK on the grounds that the UK has to find far more teachers than a high qualification entry bar will allow). However, what is often missed about the Finnish system is apparently a more subtle and sensible approach. Their starting premise seems to be that the best qualified academically do not always make the best teachers. The skills required are far wider than just a good first degree.Enlightened countries like Finland encourage the best suited to the profession and support them, if need be, in gaining good qualifications. They are selective but do not permanently eliminate a large percentage of potentially brilliant teachers on the grounds of academic qualifications alone. This adds to the prestige of becoming a teacher, as it recognises the supreme and precious skills relating to the establishment of a good working relationship with young people.
Important election issue anyone? It surely should be or have we lost our way completely?

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