Unqualified teachers are taking too big a role – Union Report

By Charlie Brafman

13 June 2011

The NASUWT union general secretary, Chris Keates, has claimed that too many support staff are taking lessons on a frequent basis. The BBC reports that Keates has suggested that the government is encouraging the practise in order to save money.

The NASUWT union is debating a resolution on the topic. If passed, this would compel the union's executive committee to enforce that schools only used staff without full qualifications to cover short term absences, to allow teachers to prepare for classes or when all attempts to recruit qualified teachers have failed. Keates pointed to examples of a teaching assistant who had taught a class full time for three years despite lacking the full qualifications.

Teaching assistants are widely used through out all schools. Whilst they are not supposed to teach new material, they can take pupils through revision or practise of topics already taught. Support staff play a very important role is keeping schools flexible and allowing qualified teachers to prepare for busy periods, such as exam time.

Further Reading:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-13183289

Expert comment from our Secret Headteacher:

The general professional standard amongst support staff nowadays is higher than it’s ever been. It is not uncommon for applicants for Teaching Assistant posts to have a degree and there are some teachers who choose the ‘Support’ route in preference to the bureaucracy of teaching.

Primary schools may well use support staff initially if the classteacher is off sick as they know the class better than a supply teacher. But for longer absences a teacher is always preferable. Some secondary schools use such staff as Cover Support in a mainly supervisory way and when work is already planned. Many schools use support staff to cover teachers during their Planning, Preparation and Assessment (PPA) time, but this should be planned by the teachers who still retain responsibility for the quality of learning in their class. Like all things – excess is not good, but support staff used carefully can provide excellent teaching and maintain continuity for children.


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