Quality is always better than quantity. It is better to have high quality teachers than a thousand of them who basically lack the expertise in their respective subjects of fields. This is what the Department for Education thinks as a solution to the current shortage in school skills. This is why the UK government is announcing plans to tap Maths and physics PhDs as teachers for state schools.
While tapping these highly knowledgeable experts may sound easy, persuading them to join the education sector and become teachers might be hard to do, especially that salaries for those engaged in teaching job pales in comparison to the compensation they could get working for a company in the private sector. Basically, there is a need to dangle a carrot in front of the horses.
And the government is just doing that!
George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer and MP for Tatton, Cheshire, is announcing an employer-sponsored on-the-job training scheme that offers soaring £40,000 salaries to highly qualified maths and physics postgraduates if they go and become teachers, according to a report by The Guardian. This new scheme, which will be sponsored by employers like GlaxoSmithKline, Nationwide Building Society and BAE Systems, will put mew PhD holders in non-selective state schools starting in September 2014. The employers, mostly major ones, will each contribute £75,000 over three years to cover the additional pay and training costs of the PhD holders to become teachers.
Would that amount of salary enough to attract holders of PhDs in maths and physics into the teaching profession? Hopefully, yes, as their starting salaries of £40,000 are almost twice the basic salaries of newly qualified teachers in the state sector, pegged at between £21,600 to £27,000. That should be enough to persuade them, in terms of financial matters, to become teachers at state schools. Likewise, there is current a shortage of university-level jobs that PhD holders could grab. Also the low-paid temporary contracts rampant in the sector could render teaching in state school an attractive and viable option, especially if its pays £40,000 in salaries.
Holders of PhDs in maths and physics wanting to take part in the scheme have to undergo on-the-job training for a teaching qualification. Once they become full-pledged teachers, they will be known as “maths and physics chairs.”
The employer-sponsored on-the-job training scheme will be run via a new initiative dubbed as “Researchers in Schools.” This new initiative supports trainees in their quest to become classroom teachers while maintaining a research profile. The “math and physics chairs” are well expected to bring in their knowledge and expertise into their classes, with a goal of helping their student receive necessary work experience at the companies that have sponsored them.
According to the Department for Education, the chairs would be able to conduct master classes for students in networks of schools as well as knot ties between schools and universities. The chairs could also share their skills via online teaching resources.