Good teachers need more than lofty qualifications


‘A good, effective teacher above all needs ­enthusiasm and some classroom skills. Perhaps a little knowledge helps too,’ writes Ann Gordon. Photograph: IPGGutenbergUKLtd/Getty Images/iStockphoto

I doubt that Dr Claire Seymour (Am I unqualified to teach after 26 years?, Letters, 28 July) has ever had to be concerned with children’s safeguarding, controlling a class, or developing a range of pedagogies in her extensive experience teaching literature and music in the private education sector. Small classes, large fees and levels of support that can only be dreamt of in the state sector will have provided her with comfort and support over the years. (I also wonder if she was even counted in the figure of “unqualified” teachers, as public schools are, on the whole, magically excluded from such scrutiny.)

She will no doubt be surprised to learn that state schools do not usually have “university tutors” (or, in many cases, music teaching), but do suffer a punitive inspection regime, a constant barrage of ill-thought-out criticism and a limitation (the national curriculum) to what they might teach imposed centrally (including what literature young people might read). Children still have to be taught – but the government decides what, when and to what level, while meagre funding ensures large class sizes and a paucity of professional support.