HUNDREDS OF trainee teachers who failed to gain qualified status have been working in classrooms, official figures have claimed.
They also reveal that more than 2,000 trainees who qualified in 2012/13 were not in the profession six months later. The statistics, published by the Department for Education, show that 13 per cent of last year’s final-year teacher trainees – around 4,650 in total – were not awarded qualified teacher status (QTS), up from 11 per cent in 2011/12.
The vast majority of those who did qualify – 26,384 trainees (92 per cent) – were employed in teaching posts within six months of completing their training. This excludes those whose employment was not known.
But more than 2,000 of those who qualified did not go on to work as teachers. Of these, 1,208 were looking for a job in teaching and 1,048 had decided not to look for a post.
Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt maintained Labour will end the policy, and added: “David Cameron’s Government has changed the rules to allow unqualified teachers into the classroom on a permanent basis. This policy is damaging school standards and is more evidence that the Tories have gone soft on standards.”
The figures also show that more than 300 trainees who did not achieve QTS were working in teaching.
The figures are likely to raise fresh concerns about unqualified teachers. Under Government reforms, academies and free schools can hire staff without QTS – a move that ministers said allows these semi-independent state schools to take on talented individuals who are experts in their field. There has been opposition to the move, with teaching unions arguing that all state-educated children should be taught by a qualified teacher.
The issue was thrust into the limelight last year when Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg disowned the key Government education policy, exposing a faultline between his party, the Liberal Democrats, and their coalition partners, the Conservatives.
A Department for Education spokesman said: “The number of teachers who don’t hold QTS has fallen since 2010 and the overall quality of our teaching workforce continues to rise, with a record 74 per cent of new teachers holding 2:1 degrees or above.
“Nonetheless we believe that it is head teachers who are best placed to decide who to employ in their school.”