Union hits back at unqualified teacher decision

JPCT 02-08-12 S12310252X The Southwater junior Academy  -photo by Steve Cobb
JPCT 02-08-12 S12310252X The Southwater junior Academy -photo by Steve Cobb

The West Sussex National Union of Teachers has spoken out against the decision to allow academies to employ unqualified teachers.

Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove announced late last month that academies and independent schools, such as Southwater Infants and Junior Schools and Greenway School, Horsham, can recruit experts from specialist fields who do not have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

While supporters argue it gives schools flexibility to bring professionals into the education system, critics say it could cause ‘irreparable damage to children’s education’.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT said: “This is a perverse decision by the DfE and a clear dereliction of duty.

“The NUT believes all children deserve to be taught by qualified teachers, and it’s not just the profession that thinks so. Our 2011 ComRes poll showed that 89 per cent of parents want a qualified teacher to teach their child, with just one per cent comfortable about those without QTS taking charge of a class. By his own admission, Mr Gove is relaxed about profit-making from schools. He takes his inspiration from Sweden where profits are being made by reducing the number of qualified teachers, and where educational standards have fallen.

“By contrast, the reason Finland scores so highly in international tables is because they value teachers, trust teachers and pay teachers well. Parents and teachers will see this as a cost-cutting measure that will cause irreparable damage to children’s education.”

A DfE spokesman said: “This policy will free up academies to employ professionals - like scientists, engineers, musicians, university professors, and experienced teachers and heads from overseas and the independent sector - who may be extremely well-qualified and are excellent teachers, but do not have QTS status.”