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Unqualified staff being used as teachers - poll.

Byline: GARETH EVANS Education Correspondent gareth.evans@walesonline.co.uk

SCHOOLS are using unqualified teachers to cover lessons and prepare pupils for exams, according to a new poll.

A survey of more than 2,000 teachers in England and Wales found classroom assistants and cover supervisors are among those being asked to take the place of qualified staff.

The NASUWT poll found that more than half (58.7%) of those questioned said unqualified staff were being used as teachers in their school.

Of these, around three in four (73.8%) said unqualified workers are preparing lessons, 97% said that they teach lessons, and about half (50.8%) said these staff members were preparing pupils for tests and exams.

More than eight in 10 (84.6%) of those questioned said their school regularly uses unqualified staff as teachers.

The poll also asked teachers which roles these unqualified staff members held, and around 17% said that they were individuals on courses to gain qualified teacher status.

Others said that these individuals included cover supervisors, higher learning teaching assistants, other teaching assistants and learning mentors. NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: "Parents and the public should be deeply concerned at the results of this survey. Now when a parent sends their child to school they have no idea who is teaching them.

"Unqualified staff who are not being given the appropriate training, support and remuneration for their responsibilities are also being exploited."

She added: "If any suggestion was made that unqualified doctors were let loose on patients there would be public outrage.

"Why should our children and young people, the future of this country, be treated with any less concern?" UK Ministers have allowed academies and free schools in England to hire teachers without qualified teacher status. They say the move will mean schools can hire experts such as scientists, linguists and engineers who have never worked in schools before.

The survey came as delegates at the National Union of Teachers (NUT) conference in Liverpool called on their executive to promote demands for a qualified teacher for every child in every class.

A resolution passed by the conference said there should be a campaign to inform parents and the education community about the continuing importance of qualified teacher status.

Proposing the motion, James Looker, an NUT member from Bromley said: "Everyone in this room knows the real agenda for the removal of the requirement for qualified teacher status for academies and free schools. It is clearly designed to de-skill the profession and provide teaching on the cheap, to drive down wages and over time, the quality of education available to everyone who cannot afford to send their child to a public school."

He added: "The children we teach deserve better. They deserve a fully qualified teacher in every lesson, every day."

The union said it wanted teachers to spend no more than 20 hours a week taking classes and called for new limits on working hours amid concerns school staff are facing "totally unsustainable" workloads.

Delegates at the Liverpool conference backed a decision by the NUT's executive to draw up a draft contract setting out a 35-hour working week for teachers.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "Teachers' pay, terms and conditions are not devolved to Wales and remain the responsibility of the UK Department for Education." The NASUWT survey questioned 2,274 teachers in England and Wales in March.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 4, 2013
Words:584
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