Union fury at rise in unqualified teachers working in Wigan schools

Rise in unqualified teachers in Wigan
Rise in unqualified teachers in Wigan

Dozens of unqualified teachers were working at state schools in Wigan last year, figures reveal.

Teachers’ union NASUWT said that every child has the right to be taught by a qualified teacher, and called for the Government to force schools to hire fully trained staff.

Department for Education data shows there were the equivalent of 2,098 full-time classroom teachers in the area’s state-funded schools in 2018.

But 33 of those neither had qualified teacher status nor were working towards it.

Teachers require QTS to work in schools overseen by councils.

It means about one in 50 teachers in Wigan state schools do not have QTS, which is gained after getting a recognised teaching qualification and completing practical training.

Academies, which are state-funded but are not run by local authorities, can employ teachers without QTS.

Across England, there were the equivalent of around 383,400 full-time classroom teachers working in state schools in 2018.

Of those, about one in 25 did not have QTS and were not on the way to gaining it – around 14,800 in total.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the teachers’ union NASUWT, said: “A child has the right to be taught by a qualified teacher. What we should be working towards is a qualified teacher for every child.

“We have been very clear that what the Government should do is return to a position where, certainly in state-funded schools, there is a requirement to employ a qualified teacher.”

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, (NEU) said the use of non-QTS teachers demonstrates the teacher recruitment and school funding crisis.

He added: “It is vital that the Government addresses the root causes of teacher recruitment and retention, and starts to give schools the funding they need to ensure every child has the education they deserve.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “More than 95% of teachers in state-funded schools have qualified teacher status and last year saw an additional 34,500 new trainee teachers recruited, despite an extremely competitive labour market and the lowest levels of unemployment for decades, showing that teaching continues to be an attractive profession.

“We want children to have great teachers who can inspire and excite them so have given schools the freedom to employ experts, such as scientists, sports people or musicians, to add value and improve the learning experience for pupils.”

Max Atkins, secretary of Wigan (NEU) said: “The use of unqualified teachers is just another shameful step this government is taking to try and educate pupils on the cheap, and it is seriously damaging the profession and children’s learning.

“Schools already use teaching assistants to cover and teach some classes, but having someone in post with the word “teacher” in the title adds more kudos and is a loophole that Academies can and do exploit.

“I find it quite disturbing that the DfE thinks that “more than 95%” of teachers having QTS is acceptable. It should never be less than 100%.

“Next year it will be “nearly 95%”, then “over 94%”. They will continue to glorify the figures as the percentage of fully-qualified teachers continues to drop.

“I will be really interested to see how many of the unqualified teachers in Wigan schools are “scientists, sports people or musicians” the DfE thinks Academy schools are packed with!.