Plans to allow unqualified teachers to work in controversial "secure colleges" for young offenders have been described as "terrifying" by the National Union of Students (NUS).
Currently, young offenders are sent to either a secure training centre or a young offender institution, depending on their age and offence, and spend about 12 hours a week in education. The new secure colleges will house offenders and double the time inmates spend on learning. The first is scheduled to open in Leicestershire in 2017 for more than 300 teenagers.
A Ministry of Justice consultation has revealed that, as with FE colleges and academies, secure colleges will be able to employ teaching staff who do not have qualified teacher status.
"It is terrifying to think that colleges could employ unqualified teaching staff," said Joe Vinson, NUS vice-president for FE. "In FE, teaching pedagogy is a very specialist thing and it's important to take into account the complex needs of learners, including diversity of learning levels, modes and disciplines.
"Qualified teachers are something that all college students deserve, especially for our most vulnerable learners."
The plans for secure colleges, which are currently going through Parliament, have met with significant opposition. It was proposed that they would educate children as young as 12, but last month the House of Lords narrowly voted against allowing them to house girls or children under the age of 15.
Former chief inspector of prisons Lord Ramsbotham described the proposals as "rushed", while Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames, a leading QC, said it was wrong to "experiment with the lives of girls and young boys in custody in this way".