ATL ‘extremely concerned’ about apprentices being 'exploited'

ATL general secretary Mary Bousted also warned that part-time teachers are taking pay cuts to work a four-day week, so they can use their day off to complete non-classroom duties.

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The general secretary of the ATL teachers' union has said she is “extremely concerned” that new teaching apprenticeships will be “exploitative”.

Mary Bousted said there was a risk that schools could employ apprentices at “cut down rates of pay” to try to deal with real-terms cuts to budgets.

At the ATL’s annual conference in Liverpool next week, a motion will be debated calling on the union to lobby government to ensure that apprentices are “fairly paid, and are not employed as cheap replacements for qualified and experienced staff”.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Ms Bousted said she was “extremely concerned” about the new teaching apprenticeship route.

She said that at a meeting with the employer group responsible for drawing up the new apprenticeship framework “basic questions” about the roles could not be answered.

Ms Bousted said: “The thing about Schools Direct at the moment is they’re supernumerary… they have a guarantee that they’re not going to be put in front of a class and required to teach.

“The problem about teaching apprenticeships is that if they’re not supernumerary at a time of really substantial real-terms funding cuts. The danger is that you get apprentices who are essentially doing a full teaching timetable at hugely reduced, cut down rates of pay.”

'Funding crisis'

Ms Bousted said she also had concerns that the programme would not give apprentices sufficient training because they are only planned to last a year.

“The danger is that we get an apprenticeship framework which is exploitative, which is low pay, where people aren’t getting decent training.

“All those become more important at a time where there’s a funding crisis. The temptation will be for some school leaders to take on an apprentice – and they may not wish to do this – but the end result will be exploitation.”

She also said she was increasingly hearing from members that they were opting to work a four-day week in the classroom, and then using their day off to complete their other school duties.

These teachers are working "part-time in order to manage their full-time workload", she said. "So they spend Friday doing all their work so they can have a free weekend.

"Lots of people told me about that and that's happening more and more."

The ATL conference will also debate a motion to “explore a possible boycott of all tests at primary level”.

However, Ms Bousted said that following the government’s announcement last week that key stage 1 Sats could be scrapped, “the landscape may have changed”.

“I think that members will want to engage in the consultation and see where that gets us,” she said.

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