Exclusive: Prison officers recruited to help schools with behaviour

Agency job advert assumes behaviour management is same in prison as in schools, says union chief

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A union leader has described a job advert calling for prison officers to work in schools as “concerning".

The advert, posted by Hull-based employment agency Principal Resourcing, specifically asks for prison officers or ex-prison officers to work as behaviour support workers in schools to “effectively deal with behaviour issues and disruptions”.

Mary Bousted, joint-general secretary of the NEU, said: “A supply agency putting this ad out is concerning because children are not criminals and the set of skills you learn as a prison officer are not necessarily transferable to a school.

“In schools you want children, with your help, to develop better ways to behave by lifting their self-esteem, rather than having the rigid disciplinary model of a prison.

“Some prison officers will have these skills, but what seems peculiar is an advert targeted at them.

"I'm not saying prison officers shouldn’t work in schools, but the advert seems to assume that the practice for managing behaviour in schools is the same as in prisons.”

The agency is currently advertising for prison officers in schools across Leeds, Bradford, Harrogate and Wakefield.

Its adverts state the successful candidate will “work with disadvantaged students from very difficult contexts".

Meanwhile, supply teachers have criticised supply agencies for employing ex-police officers and soldiers to work as cover supervisors instead of booking qualified supply teachers.

One supply teacher, who did not wish to be named, said large multi-academy trusts were valuing the regimented approach of people with services backgrounds, who were prepared to work for lower rates than agencies because they are already on pensions.

She said: “They might be good at discipline but they’re not trained teachers. And we’re going to see the effects in a few years’ time when kids are not passing their exams.”

NEU assistant general secretary Andrew Morris said: "Someone’s ability to manage a group of children’s behaviour doesn’t mean they also have the ability or training to ensure they are learning. 

"Nobody is doubting that cover supervisors carry out their work to the best of their ability, but everyone should ask whether the absence of a qualified teacher is compromising pupils’ education.”

Principal Resourcing has been approached for a comment.

*Tes' parent company Tes Global owns three teacher-supply agencies

You can read more about new findings on the teacher supply market in today's Tes magazine, available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here


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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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