I think there are a couple of reasons, some quite counter-intuitive, that help explain why the quality of trainee teachers appears so low: 1. We have too many teachers - now that institutional education has been massively expanded, the relatively able are spread ever thinner, in worse conditions. Who would want to do such a difficult, unsecure and unrewarding job when the world has so much better? 2. Teachers have little freedom - for those who are genuinely able, but who do not care too much about money, teaching, as it used to be, could be very attractive if there were a high degree of freedom and a good lifestyle, combined with moderately decent/comfortable pay. 3. Teaching and learning in schools is as academic as a pineapple. There is real little academic learning in schools - as a private tutor, the approaches I take are very efficient and effective (e.g. using lots of translation when teaching languages) but they reflect more how I studied them at A-level/University rather than the years before, which now seem wasted in comparison. It's effective with all my students too. 4. Blame the 1970s! Until reforms in the seventies of the last century, teachers with a degree (from a real university; before the CNAA was created) were spared teacher-training and constant harassment by brain-dead SLT with third-class degrees in theatre history from some polytechnic and they had greater status. This endures somewhat unofficially, but, again, the most able just steer clear of "The Profession". Until then, as we saw earlier this week, we are at the point of employing illiterates as teachers in some cases. Quelle horreur!