Schools use unqualified staff to cut costs claim unions

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LEADERS of two main teaching unions have voiced fears that schools are hiring unqualified staff to take lessons in an attempt to save money.

Some schools are abusing rules which allow them to appoint staff without qualified teacher status to allow them to provide “education on the cheap”, according to a resolution at the NASUWT’s annual conference in Glasgow yesterday.

It comes as a poll published today by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) reveals that the vast majority of people have concerns about schools using teachers without formal qualifications.

The NASUWT resolution calls on the union’s executive to ensure schools are only allowed to use staff without qualified status to cover for short-term absences, to allow teachers to plan and prepare for classes, or when all attempts to secure a qualified teacher have failed.

General Secretary Chris Keates said: “Support staff are valuable members of the education team and do an excellent job, but they are not trained and paid to be teachers.

“Schools are flouting the law and statutory guidance, and compromising standards.”

The NUT’s poll of more than 2,000 adults, carried out earlier this month, focused on the Government’s moves to allow free schools to hire teachers without formal teaching qualifications.

It found that the majority – 86 per cent – believed that any school which receives public funding should only employ qualified teachers to teach pupils.

More than four-in-five said they would not want their child to attend a free school that did not require its teachers to have professional qualifications. And almost four-fifths 79 per cent agreed that employing non-qualified staff in free schools was a way of saving money, not improving teaching standards.

Free schools are a flagship education policy of the coalition Government which is encouraging parents and teachers to set up their own schools wherever they are unhappy with the choice on offer in their community.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “Yet again we see the Government’s proposals for education in this country going against what the public wants.”