Row over teaching shake-up

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A GOVERNMENT decision which could see academy schools in Wigan borough hire unqualified teachers has been slammed by education experts.

Schools, such as Abraham Guest and Fred Longworth, can now hire staff who are experts in their field, even if they do not have qualified teacher status (QTS).

However, the decision has been lambasted by Professor Chris Husbands, director of the Institute of Education at London University, who said the plan contradicted national and international evidence.

The controversial academy system has been backed by the Conservative government, but criticised by the Labour party since it was introduced and both Hawkley Hall and Byrchall High have applied for academy status.

Gaining academy status allows schools to become independent and seek outside sponsorship from private companies. While academies are also able to fix their own pay scales, and set their own curriculum for pupils, they remain under strict control from the Government

The government says the new rules will help school to improve faster.

Ministers say it will allow these schools to hire professionals who are experts in their field, such as scientists, engineers, musicians and linguists who may not have QTS.

But the decision angered teaching unions, who said pupils should be taught by qualified teachers.

Prof Husbands said: “The decision to remove the requirement that those teaching in (publicly-funded) academy schools should have qualified teacher status flies in the face of evidence nationally and internationally.”

“Internationally, the evidence is strong: the status of the teaching profession is related to the quality and status of initial teacher education.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “We expect the vast majority of teachers will continue to have QTS, and no existing teacher contract is affected.

“Independent schools and free schools can already hire brilliant people who have not got QTS, and 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 schools before.