Education recruitment specialist says increase in unqualified teachers is damaging the profession
TLTP Education (The London Teaching Pool) says that the decision by the Education Secretary Michael Gove to give academies and free schools the freedom to hire staff without standard qualifications was now actively working against the best interests of both pupils and the teaching profession.
The Department for Education figures reveal an increase in the number of unqualified teachers from 14,800 in 2012 to 17,100 in November last year. The number of frontline staff without qualified teaching status in academies and free schools rose by 2,600 to nearly 8,000 – meaning nearly 6% of the 141,000 full-time teaching staff at both types of school lack teaching accreditation. In free schools, teachers without QTS represent 13% of 1,500 full-time teachers.
"I can’t think of any other sector where you would claim to be aiming to raise standards by not employing qualified staff,” explains Darryl Mydat, managing director of TLTP Education.
“It is not something that will not sit well with parents, it demotivates qualified teachers who have worked hard to achieve a recognised standard and does little to enhance the reputation of the profession. There’s more to being a great teacher than simply knowing your subject – any experienced teacher will tell you that. We would urge the Education Secretary to think again.”
Mydat urges instead that more should be done to encourage former teachers to return to the profession.
“We all know there is a shortage of teachers but recruiting unqualified staff is not the answer. More can be done to attract teachers back to the profession. We know experienced teachers who have left the profession, for whatever reason, who would be interested in returning if the route back was made easier for them.”
Although there is no statutory requirement for former teachers to complete training before they return to teaching and thousands do, Mydat says that some tell that their time away from the profession is inhibiting their return, others are saying that they are being told to volunteer at schools as a route back in, but this means no pay for them and potentially increased child care costs. A number of schools also prefer to take less experienced or unqualified teachers on cost grounds.
Mydat says that, although the Department of Education recommends returning teachers to consider Subject Knowledge Enhancement courses, enrolment requires you to be a qualified teacher already currently employed in a school. All this, says Mydat, at a time following the withdrawal of government funding for the well respected and much used teachers’ & lsquo;Return to Work’ courses. The & lsquo;Return to Work’ courses were designed as short refresher courses for former teachers who had taken career breaks, either to raise families or spend time in industry, with access back into work. They were, Mydat says, a key source of teachers who now have a more complex route to negotiate to get back into the classroom.
“We are not in a situation where we have the luxury of making life difficult for experienced, qualified teachers who want to return to the profession,” he says.
“There is a shortage already of teachers in core subjects as well as teachers leaving the profession in worrying numbers, citing stress and bureaucracy as the key reasons. Schools need to be encouraged or even incentivised to ensure they are getting the right blend of new qualified and experienced staff as we have to find a way of getting experience back in our classrooms and doing it quickly.”