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Unqualified teachers 'jeopardise children's progress'

Seven in ten academy-based teachers claim that children at their school are being taught by unqualified staff, a union has claimed.

Research by the NASUWT teaching union found that 70 per cent of teachers in academies, and 61 per cent of all teachers, said children at their schools were taught by people who did not hold a teaching qualification.

The survey of more than 4,600 teachers found that 66 per cent said the use of unqualified staff was “getting worse because schools can’t or won’t pay for qualified teachers”. This figure rose to 69 per cent for teachers in academies.

A spokeswoman for the NASUWT union said some of these unqualified staff were recruited as teachers, and others were teaching assistants who were being asked to deliver lessons. The union has not collected data on the breakdown of this.

One respondent said: “If parents knew that their children were being taught by unqualified staff, they would withdraw them to another school. I feel that the parents are being misled about the quality of teaching within the school.”

Another said staff without a teaching qualifications “often don’t identify with the children and have failed in their previous professions.

“They lack professionalism in how they deal with the students. There are regular complaints about them from parents,” the respondent said.

Unions have been raising concerns on the issue since former education secretary Michael Gove announced in 2012 that he would abolish the requirement for teachers employed by academies to have qualified teacher status (QTS).

Mr Gove claimed the move would give schools the “flexibility” to “hire great linguists, computer scientists, engineers and other specialists who have not worked in state schools before”.

But unions fear it will lead to cash-strapped schools providing “teaching on the cheap” and Labour’s shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has pledged to reverse the move, forcing all unqualified teachers to work towards QTS. 

A motion set to be discussed at the NASUWT union's annual conference in Cardiff this weekend says:  "All children and young people across the UK are entitled to be taught by qualified teachers." 

Chris Keates, the union's general secretary, said: “The coalition government robbed children of a fundamental entitlement when they removed the requirement for schools to employ qualified teachers.

“This is jeopardising the educational progress of children. It is abuse of unqualified staff who are being exploited by schools and it is denying teachers jobs.” 

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