‘UNACCEPTABLE ON EVERY LEVEL’ – Academies to employ unqualified ‘teachers’

Demonstration in Wood Green, north London on January 28 this year against the forcing of Academy status on schools
Demonstration in Wood Green, north London on January 28 this year against the forcing of Academy status on schools

unions have angrily condemned the news that Academies can now employ unqualified ‘teachers’.

The change, announced late last Friday afternoon, is immediate. Until now, state-funded schools could only employ people with ‘Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)’, meaning they have been trained and approved as meeting a range of professional standards.

The change brings academies into line with private schools, which have always been exempt, and the new free schools, which can also employ people without QTS.

Academies, like free schools, are funded by the state, but are outside of local authority control, able to create their own curriculum, and set teachers’ pay and conditions.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) described it as a ‘significant backward step’.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: ‘Qualified teacher status represents the means by which parents and public can be assured that children are receiving a guaranteed standard of teaching and learning.

‘It is the entitlement of all children and young people to be taught by a qualified teacher.

‘The public would be horrified if people were able to practice medicine or law without the appropriate qualifications and they should be equally horrified by the removal by the Secretary of State of this important qualification for teachers.

‘This move by the DfE is unacceptable on every level.’

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: ‘This is a perverse decision by the DfE and a clear dereliction of duty.

‘The NUT believes all children deserve to be taught by qualified teachers, and it’s not just the profession that thinks so.

‘Our 2011 ComRes poll showed that 89% of parents want a qualified teacher to teach their child, with just 1% comfortable about those without Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) taking charge of a class.

‘Parents and teachers will see this as a cost-cutting measure that will cause irreparable damage to children’s education.

‘Schools need a properly resourced team of qualified teachers and support staff, not lower investment dressed up as “freedoms”.

‘The Government has no credible argument for removing the requirement for academies to employ qualified teachers, so chooses instead to bury this decision in the hours leading up to the Olympics opening ceremony.’

Martin Johnson, deputy general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: ‘The government has brought itself further ridicule by its decision to allow academies to employ unqualified teachers.

‘And to sneak out this announcement as a so-called minor change when everyone’s focused on the Olympics takes government news management to a new low’.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: ‘Teaching is a skill and the idea of employing individuals who have not been given the tools to do a professional job flies in the face of the coalition government’s aspiration of creating a high status profession.’