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600,000 pupils taught by unqualified teachers


In the last 4 years the number of unqualified teachers in state-funded schools across the UK has risen by 62 per cent. Labour revealed the data from the DfE School workforce which showed in 2016 there were 24,000 unqualified teachers up from 14,800 in 2012, when at the time Michael Gove was Education Secretary removed the requirement for teachers to be qualified in the specific subjects they cover.

Assuming an average class size of 25.5 children this means 613,000 children were taught by unqualified teachers.

In the same period, the number of qualified teachers rose by just 1.4 per cent, from 427,300 to 433,200.

A higher proportion of unqualified staff are in academies and free schools. In local authority secondary schools, 4.9 per cent of teachers are unqualified, but in secondary sponsored academies there are 9.6 per cent, and 11.3 per cent in secondary free schools.


Labour condemned the findings, highlighting that the Government has missed its teacher training targets for the fifth year in a row.

Mike Kane, a former teacher and the shadow schools minister, said the government was relying on unqualified teachers to plug the gaps in schools brought about by chronic underfunding.

“Under Labour, all permanently employed teachers had to be qualified. This government changed the rules and scrapped that requirement, allowing schools to employ unqualified teachers, permanently threatening standards.

“The Tories’ failure on teacher recruitment is putting school standards at risk, and it’s our children who will pay for their mess,” he said.

“The Government have completely failed in their most basic of tasks and are clearly relying on unqualified teachers to plug the gaps,” he said.

“Unqualified teachers have no guaranteed training in safeguarding children, controlling a class or adapting teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils,” Mr Kane said.

“But under the Tories, they’re responsible for the education of hundreds of thousands of our children.”



Plugging the gap

The results coincides with dramatic staff shortages felt across the sector with more teachers leaving the profession than entering for the second year in a row.

Teaching a job you were not qualified in was unheard of years ago, however this is now common practice in many of England’s schools. Teaching Assistants and staff from other areas were being pulled in to plug gaps for example native language speakers who do not hold a qualification in teaching are increasingly being used to teach MFL subjects.

Worryingly, more than a third of Physics teachers do not have a degree in the subject, more than a fifth of Maths and English teachers hold no higher than an A-level qualification in the subject. Earlier this year the Government launched a £300,000 overseas recruitment drive in a bid to address the recruitment crisis facing the UK Education sector.


The idea behind employing unqualified staff was to make it easier for schools to have lessons from people with particular skills, such as technology experts, sports tutors, musicians or linguists.

But it was opposed by teaching unions who claimed it was a form of cost cutting and a lowering of professional standards.

Local authority schools still require teachers to have qualified teacher status, but there are exemptions such as specialist instructors, teachers trained overseas and trainee teachers.

Another former education secretary, Nicky Morgan, last year put forward plans that would have completely removed qualified teacher status.

But these proposals were reversed by the current Education Secretary, Justine Greening, who has said she wants to strengthen QTS rather than end it.

“Some people have suggested that QTS might be scrapped or replaced with some vague notion of an ‘accreditation’,” she said in a speech earlier this year. “Let me be absolutely clear: not on my watch.”

Ms Greening added: “Keeping and strengthening QTS is vital. This is not about removing school freedoms. But I believe that teachers should have the highest quality qualification and what I want to see is a QTS so well regarded, so strong that school leaders will naturally want all their teaching staff to have it.

“QTS should be the foundation stone for the teaching profession to build on.”


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A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We trust headteachers to run their schools and make the right decisions for their pupils. The latest figures show that nine in ten secondary lessons are taught by a teacher with a relevant post A-level qualification – a clear indication of the importance headteachers place on ensuring pupils are taught by highly qualified teachers.”

“The quality of new entrants to teacher training continues to be high, with 18 per cent of this year’s cohort holding a first-class degree. We are investing £1.3bn up to 2020, along with bursaries of up to £30,000 tax free in subjects including physics, to continue to attract the best and the brightest into the profession, particularly in the core academic subjects.”

Unions and Labour claim that not enough trainee teachers began courses in more than three-quarters of subjects, with maths, physics, design and technology, computing and business studies all falling at least 15% short of their targets.

About 6,000 trainee teachers began courses after achieving a 2:2 or lower in their degree subject, and less than half of trainees are studying for their qualifications in universities, they claimed.

The only subjects to meet the required recruitment levels were PE, history, biology and geography, while English and chemistry narrowly missed them.


July 26, 2017