Wednesday, April 20, 2005

My Theory of Relativity

You may know that I am trying to get my QTS – that’s Qualified Teacher Status here in England. Since I have a teaching qualification from America, it’s supposed to be relatively simply.

The key word there is ‘relatively.’

I’ve already submitted original university transcripts and my original teaching license (actually, I’ve submitted it all several times to about four different people over here, but that’s a different matter). I’ve filled out some forms. I’ve talked with the head of maths from the LEA (Local Education Authority – like the central school administration office) about what maths classes I’ve taken. I’ve explained the American system of education to people (several times).

And that last part is where we have the snag.

Here in England, at age 16 students take end-of-course tests called GCSEs (General Certificates of Secondary Education or something like that). So, rather than receiving a high school diploma, students receive GCSE results. And, here in England, the GCSEs (or their precursors, the O Levels) are pretty important. Regardless of what higher education you have, your GCSE results follow you. (Even the head of my school, with the doctorate in mathematics, had to include here O Level results on her resume).

In order to allow me to continue with the process towards QTS, I have to submit evidence of the equivalents of GCSEs. I’ve tried to explain that American schools don’t have such an equivalent. I’ve tried to explain that in order to enter my university degree program, I had to graduate from high school (I’ve even pointed to that line on my original transcript). I’ve tried to explain that in America, once you get a college degree, nobody ever, EVER asks for your high school grades (asks where you went, maybe…asks for a specific list of classes, not that I have ever heard of…at least not to be a teacher).

But, that seems to have no impact. So, I will now write a letter to my high school and ask how to request a transcript of courses I completed almost thirteen years ago.

Of course, since I’m on the relatively simple method of getting my QTS, I absolutely shudder to think about the other methods.

Just a side note, the next time this comes up, I’m going to give them a different example: Imagine an English person going to American and applying for a job. That English person is told that they cannot be hired unless they show their high school diploma. And, the English person won’t be able to do that. They just can’t. The system isn’t set up that way.

Someone in my department (someone from England) said this: ‘You wonder why they have trouble recruiting maths teachers? Know you know.’


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