Teachers urged to challenge academics for role as public intellectuals

Academics should step aside to allow school teachers to become the country’s new “intellectual guardians”, the head of Britain’s teacher training body has said.

September 3, 2011

In an interview in the Times Educational Supplement, Stephen Hillier, the new chief executive of the Training and Development Agency for Schools, called for teachers to follow in the footsteps of “celebrity” academics such as Brian Cox, Simon Schama and Niall Ferguson to front TV shows and represent their subjects in the media.

He said he also wanted some school teachers to hold dual roles as university professors to boost the status of the teaching profession.

“In the next five to 10 years it would be great if, instead of the Simon Schamas and the David Starkeys doing their TV series, it was a teacher doing that kind of thing because it was just accepted that they have that status,” he told the TES.

“I’d love to see universities have a professorship that a school teacher had a chance of getting.

“They could be a national expert, still teaching in a school, but also doing things in the university wearing their professorial hat.”

Mr Hillier said the perception of teaching was changing as tougher entry requirements had weeded out lower calibre trainees.

“In the past, a proportion applied who nobody would want as teachers,” he said.

“Now the idea of teaching being a high-benchmark profession is understood by the public; people thinking ‘I will never get into teaching’ so they don’t apply. Five years ago people thought ‘teaching, you get a long holiday with that’.

“We may find we won’t get the same number of applications, But those we do get will be what counts.”


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