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15th June 2001 at 01:00
If the goal is that every pupil should be taught by a qualified teacher, then schools seem further away than ever from realising the vision. Recent Government figures put the number of unqualified instructors "teaching" in schools at 4,300 in January 2001. This is 1,700 more than when Labour came into office in 1997 and a 25 per cent increase over the 3,399 there were in 1991 at the height of the previous teacher vacancy crisis.

In fact, the position is actually even worse since the 1991 total included student teachers and those training through employment-based routes. These 1,300 teachers are excluded from the 2001 total for instructors and form a separate category of "teachers on routes to QTS".

However, included in the instructors' total are some teachers who qualified in countries where their training is not rcognised here and who cannot for some reason yet join the employment-based training routes.

The growth in the total of unqualified instructors must be a concern, especially as the Government no longer breaks it down between primary and secondary schools.

The Government also does not provide information on the subjects that instructors are teaching in secondary schools. Historically, it has been assumed they were in design and technology departments and teaching subjects such as law, business studies and psychology, where there are few appropriate teacher training courses. If they are taking other subjects, such as maths and physics, where teachers are in short supply, it should open up a debate as to whether instructors with suitable knowledge are to be preferred to teachers teaching "out of field".

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