Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Do teachers need degrees?

Research shows it matters, says Melanie Butler

Across the developed world, a first degree is a prerequisite for teachers working in mainstream education, but not in preschool.

First degrees are also a requirement for the accreditation of language schools in the US, Canada, Ireland and Australia. But not in UK EFL.

In April 2019, the British Council downgraded its requirement for a Level 6 (first degree equivalent) qualification for teachers in accredited language schools from “except in exceptional circumstances” to “normally”. Evidence of “engagement with post-school learning and/or substantial life experience” is required for non-graduates.

However, there is clear evidence that graduate teachers increase student outcomes, even among preschool children. A major study In England found having a Level 6-qualified teacher can make a long-lasting difference.

The EPPE cohort study in England followed 3,000 children (both L1 and L2 English) from birth to age 16 to measure the key variables affecting educational attainment. One focus was the impact of preschool on later education. After controlling for family variables, it found that having Level 6 teachers at preschool was a strong predictor of a child’s learning outcomes at age 11.

“Every increase in the educational level of staff, from level three to four to five, predicted an increase in children’s outcomes, “Professor Kathy Sylva, who led the EPPE study, told the Gazette.

“But Level 6 was the elbow point. It predicted a stronger increase in outcomes at 11 than all the other increases in educational levels put together.”

Is EFL the only area of education in which degrees don’t matter?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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