Norfolk and Suffolk headteachers’ mixed reaction to unqualified teachers debate

12:46 01 August 2012

Norfolk headteachers say they would consider taking on unqualified teachers

Norfolk headteachers say they would consider taking on unqualified teachers


Some of Norfolk’s headteachers would consider putting unqualified teachers in their classrooms – despite fears by others it could have a negative effect on the region’s students.

Following the announcement that the department for education has relaxed the rules for academies to allow them to take on teachers without qualified teacher status (QTS), education leaders in Norfolk and Suffolk have been giving their views on the latest policy change.

It brings academies in line with Free schools and independent schools, who already have the freedom to take on unqualified teachers.

According to the DfE, it will mean they can “now hire great linguists, computer scientists, engineers, and other specialists who have not worked in state schools before”.

But while some headteachers have welcomed the news and said they will seriously consider taking the government up on the offer, others have blasted it as a watering-down of the profession that could have an adverse effect on students.

Michael Rose, headteacher at Wayland Academy in Watton, is among the headteachers who said they would “certainly consider” employing unqualified teachers in the future.

The changes came into effect immediately for new academies opening or converting from now on and existing academies – including 18 in Norfolk and 29 in Suffolk – can ask for the a clause to be included in their agreement.

Mr Rose said the new rules could help overcome recruitment problems faced by so many schools in Norfolk.

“Our problem has been, for some years, recruitment within maths, design technology and IT. If we were able to train up skilled individuals to the right level, that would be something potentially positive. But it would need to be the right person,” he said.

David Brunton, principal at City Academy Norwich in Earlham, and Rachel de Souza, principal at Ormiston Victory Academy in Costessey, also said they would be open to the idea.

Mr Brunton said, although teachers with a PGCE were “better prepared than ever” to join the profession, he believed there were some “naturally gifted communicators” without QTS who the school would consider employing.

He added: “Teaching is not just about being knowledgeable in a subject, it is about being able to connect with others to share that knowledge. These attributes can be both learned and innate.”

But other headteachers – including those at Norfolk academies – have dismissed the policy, insisting training is a crucial part of the teacher role.

A number of schools already welcome untrained staff into their classrooms – in the form of instructors or high-level teaching assistants – but headteachers insisted they were not classified as teachers, were on a different pay bands and received extra support.

Ian Clayton, headteacher at Thorpe St Andrew High School which has no plans to become an academy, said bringing in an unqualified teacher and immediately putting them in front of a class was “gambling with youngsters’ lives”.

He said: “In interview I ask ‘Are you a mathematician who wants to become a teacher or a teacher with a passion for maths?’ What Thorpe wants are teachers who can pass on that knowledge. You don’t have to be a doctor in maths to be a very effective teacher.”

Tim Roderick, headteacher at Sheringham High School, which became an academy in November, said teaching was a “highly-skilled profession” and was about more than just good subject knowledge.

He added: “Just as I wouldn’t want to be operated on by an unqualified doctor, I’m sure parents do not want their children taught by unqualified teachers.”

Teaching unions have also hit out at the government’s policy change.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said ministers were trying the make teaching “the poor relation of the professions” in England. “It is the entitlement of all children and young people to be taught by a qualified teacher.”

Specific details about how the new policy would work have yet to be released.

Headteachers said they would want to be assured the right checks and balances were in place to ensure only the most suitable people were taken on as teachers and that schools were required to offer training in key areas.

The DfE first made the announcement on Friday. It has been accused of trying to hide the news as the country got caught up in the excitement of the Olympics opening ceremony.

To read more headteachers’ views, click on the link to the right.

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  • Politicians NEVER learn. They play around with systems on the pretext of improvement but are really driven by political imperative which is as changeable as the weather. As long as they play politics with our children they will unfortunately continue to undermine a great profession as they have done for 30 yrs or so. How very sad that they are so spineless.

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    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

  • My children's school was only rated 'satisfactory' at its last Ofsted inspection. Whether or not you think this is a good organisation the main criticism of the school was that the quality of teaching was not good enough! So to all those people who think the current way of producing teachers is great you are wrong. Chris Keates thinks all children have a right to be taught by a qualified teacher - clearly that includes those teachers who are not up to the job but very rarely leave. The main reason teaching is not regarded as highly as it was years ago is there are too many teachers who think their rights come above those of the children in their care. They complain at every chance and as for striking this should be outlawed. I think Ofsted's main remit should simply be the quality of each teacher. Assess them, and those that don't make the grade should be given the opportunity to improve through structured assistance over a defined period of time. If they still fail then its time to find a job they are more suited to. No more messing about, its childrens futures at stake here. And to help teachers, lets get rid of some of the rubbish they are required to do by Government which is nothing to do with teaching.

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    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

  • This is a retrograde step, children with special needs have been taught by unqualified teachers in mainstream school for many years. This has been proven to be a retrograde step by all studies into this matter - the Rose report etc., to propose doing so as a standard for all children is a step backwards. In all other professions qualifications are paramount, teaching should not be made an exception. As for private schools - clearly if you can pay for your childs education it is your choice if you choose to pay for a school which has unqualified staff, most people do not have a choice with state schools - you are limited to the proximity of the school and the availability of a placement. The experiment by Jamie Oliver's tv programme some time ago of experts in the classroom gives a good indication of the fact that it is not enough to be an expert in your field to be able to communicatecontrolteach etc. The students in the programmes had all been failed by their schools. Parents should be given a voucher for the true cost of their child's education, which includes not only their education costs, it should also include the allocation per child of running the building etc., schools have massive budgets which if it were up to individual parents to select schools on the same basis as independent schools with each child having a voucher for their education to be spent at the either independent or state school of the parents choosing, then there would be real choice and our state schools would loose the apathy.

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    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

  • Much cheaper to employ, that's why the Academies like them. Also, places like Thetford fail to attract qualified teachers

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    Jacob Burns

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

  • Breaking the training...teacher career path is a good thing to me. All my best school teachers were those that had experience outside of the academic system. I have much more confidence in a teacher who has learnt how to communicate etc. rather than one who has been taught how to.

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    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

  • .....“In interview I ask ‘Are you a mathematician who wants to become a teacher or a teacher with a passion for maths?’ ......So he bases all his teaching appointments on this (or variations) of this rather silly question. Time for a change at the top I think. .

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    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

  • A retrograde step, a retrograde step yet again AND a step backwards. This is unqualified 'taught'ology!!!

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    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site


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