All subjects are “important” but some subjects are more “important” than others, apparently

18 Oct

The DfE has announced “Bigger bursaries and scholarships to attract more top graduates into teaching

Prestigious new scholarships and bursaries to attract more high-quality graduates into teaching important, rigorous subjects”:  

“Scholarships, awarded by respected subject organisations [are there ones that aren’t ‘respected’?], will be available to the most talented maths, physics, chemistry and computing trainees. Bursaries will be available to top graduates in maths, physics, chemistry, computing, and languages, in primary and in priority subjects at secondary school (English, history, biology, geography, music, and design and technology).”

So does that mean that those subjects that are not on the list aren’t “important”?

While welcome for those who want to teach the “important” subjects, isn’t this divisive and unfair on those who would like to teach other, devalued subjects?  

Take RE, for example. As The Times put it:

“Religious education continues to be treated as a non-priority subject, alongside art, citizenship, business studies and physical education, for which bursaries have been removed.”

This is despite the fact that “more than half of schools” [in England] were “found to be failing pupils on religious education”, according to Ofsted. The schools inspectorate said that schools and the government had failed to focus effectively on religious education. In Religious education: realising the potential, it comments that:

“religious education makes an important contribution to pupils’ development, both personal and academic. It does so by promoting respect and empathy, which are increasingly important in an ever more globalised and multicultural 21st century.”

Free schools

At the same time, Mr Gove, with classic Govean doublethink, boasts that free schools can “hire the best people to teach”,  regardless of whether they are qualified. As we have pointed out before, how do you raise teaching standards while encouraging the employment of unqualified teachers? If QTS “will remain the highly-respected professional status for teachers” why allow some to teach without it?  While promoting ‘freedom’ from QTS with one hand, the Government is promoting subject “rigour” with this latest announcement and QTS and through its School Direct training programme.


The DfE also announced that:

“New bursaries of £9,000 will be introduced for maths and physics trainees with a relevant degree and a good A level in the subject (a grade B or higher).”

Back in 2010, David Cameron announced that: “If you want to become a teacher – and get funding for it – you need a 2:2 or higher. As long as you’ve got a first or 2:1 in maths or a rigorous science subject from a good university, you can apply.”   Michael Gove made similar pronouncements.

The Times reported this as new development as:

Third-class degree? Here’s £9,000 to train as a teacher as recruitment shortfalls force the Government to lower its thresholds.”

Voice has long maintained that you don’t have to have a first to be an excellent teacher. There are many excellent teachers with thirds and plenty of people with firsts who are brilliant academically but would be hopeless at passing on that knowledge to children or inspiring them to take interest in a subject. It is the aptitude to be a teacher that is important.

However, if students with thirds in some “important, rigorous subjects” can receive bursaries, why not those who want to teach other “important, rigorous subjects” or even those subjects that the DfE does not consider to be “important” or “rigorous”?

Commenting on degree classifications in November 2010, former Voice National Chairman Andrew Broadhurst said:

“Thank you Mr Gove for telling me I’m not clever enough to be a teacher. My third class degree in Physics seems to mean I’m just too thick. Never mind the 77% of my GCSE students who got an A* or an A last summer or the 48 students who opted for A level Physics.”

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2 Responses to “All subjects are “important” but some subjects are more “important” than others, apparently”

  1. Richard Fraser 13. Nov, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    BBC News / Computer Weekly: “Conservatives purge old speeches from online archives”:[]

    Noticed that:

    had gone on 18 October when researching this post.

    Conservative MPs too? eg []

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