A UNION has slammed a rule change allowing academies to use unqualified staff to teach children.
The West Sussex Teachers’ Association sent out a statement following the Government change which means academies can now hire teaching staff they “believe to be suitably qualified”.
Until now, most state-funded schools could only hire people with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), meaning they have been trained and approved as meeting a range of standards.
The change, which is immediate, means academies now have the same rules as independent schools, free schools, studio schools and university technical colleges.
In its statement, the West Sussex Teachers’ Association said the Government had “sneaked in” the change which was “overwhelmingly opposed” by parents and teachers.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), described the decision as “perverse” 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,” she said.
“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 Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) taking charge of a class.”
She described the change as a “cost-cutting measure” causing “irreparable damage” to children’s education.
The government, however, said the change will allow academies to hire professionals who may have much to offer but do not have QTS.
A Department for Education spokesman said: “Independent schools and free schools can already hire brilliant people who have not got QTS.
“We are extending this flexibility to all academies so more schools can hire great linguists, computer scientists, engineers and other specialists who have not worked in state schools before.
“We expect the vast majority of teachers will continue to have QTS.
“This additional flexibility will help schools improve faster. No existing teacher contract is affected by this minor change.”
In the Herald and Gazette area, the change could affect the Sir Robert Woodard Academy, Shoreham Academy and Littlehampton Academy.
It could also affect Worthing High School if proposals to change the school to a converter academy are approved.
The funding agreements for all new academies will now state academies can employ teaching staff who they believe to be suitably qualified.
Existing academies can request their funding agreements be changed to include this if they wish.
A West Sussex County Council spokesman said: “Staffing would be an issue for the management teams and governors of academies.”
Have your say
We want to know your views on the change.
Would you be happy for your child to be taught by someone without QTS?
Are you a teacher concerned about what the change will mean to you?
Do you think the change will improve or harm standards of teaching?
You can let us know what you think by commenting below or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.