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Why are unqualified support staffs being allowed to teach?

25 September 2010 10,315 views 28 Comments

Supply Teachers UK Campaign Group
teaching-assistants
We have reached a crisis point within the education system of England and Wales, a crisis that may have a profound impact upon the education of your children and grandchildren for years to come. We have an absurd and evidenced situation of unqualified cover supervisors, HLTA, TA’s teaching and it as been reported even caretakers, and dinner ladies teaching children, while newly qualified and experienced supply teachers are being forced to leave the profession due to the lack of work. A profession, which to many is also a vocation and the only occupation they wish to follow. How do you tell a newly qualified teacher who has their teaching degree, whose life ambition is to nurture and develop the children of today and the adults of the future, that they must stop teaching because they have been replaced by someone who is unqualified. The fact that they cannot get a job to do an induction because the local secondary or primary school have eight or more unqualified staff to fill the role of the teacher is lost amidst the tears and cries of despair of being forced to leave their dream of educating the youth of today and tomorrow.

Supply teachers campaign group as carried out research, which revealed that it is becoming rare for teachers to cover PPA time in primary schools, that is 2 ½ hours per week that a child is possibly not being taught by a teacher or 2 ½ hours of non-education time. We have evidence of a school, which admitted that unqualified staff taught last year 60 hours of lessons (around 10% of lessons) permanently every week. We say this is wrong, not just because it impacts on us in terms of income, but because we say that education matters and the future of the young people matters. England and Wales are the unique in that they how people without any teacher training to teach, even Uganda, a third world country does not allow people without teaching qualifications to teach.

We ask the ‘Parent Outloud’ group to ask your child’s school ‘who is teaching my child in their lessons today’ and campaign with us to restore teachers to the classroom.

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28 Comments »

  • Cheryl Parker said:

    Why should supply teachers put time and effort (and money) to qualify only then to have unqualified people take our place.

    The government keeps going on about raising standards. Well having unqualified people teach does just the opposite!

  • Petronius Philips said:

    It is totally unacceptable, undermining, disrespectful and hypocritical to both pupils, parents and teachers who have worked hard to get qualified and then have unqualified staff acting as “teachers” in our classrooms.

    Every lesson in every school should have a qualified teacher otherwise the education of our pupils is severely compromised.

    Teaching assistants, learning support staff etc are there to assist the qualified teacher and this must be enforced by all right minded headteachers otherwise the entire educational system is severely undermined.

  • Petronius Philips said:

    It is totally unacceptable, undermining, disrespectful and hypocritical to both pupils, parents and teachers who have worked hard to get qualified, made many financial sacrifices, passed a rigorous probationary year and then have UNQUALIFIED staff acting as “teachers” in our classrooms.

    Every lesson in every school should have a graduate qualified and registered GTC[E] teacher otherwise the education of our pupils is severely compromised.

    Teaching assistants, learning support staff, cover supervisors etc are there to assist the qualified teacher and this must be enforced by all right minded headteachers otherwise the entire educational system is severely undermined. Cynical cost-cutting and bluffing one’s way through lessons actually harms pupils and is unacceptable in any society particularly in developed nations. Such actions by schools must surely contravene the human rights of pupils to a proper education?

    It is appalling that it has been allowed to happen in this country!

  • Jenny Taylor said:

    How many parents actually realise that their children are being taught by unqualified “teachers”?

    Every time there is some “research” saying that x% of pupils leave school unable to…” the papers have a go at teachers for their long holidays and poor standards of teaching. Do these newspapers even realise that many children are being taught by people who are not qualified to teach?

    I admit I have a vested interest in this. I was unable to go away to college to train as a teacher when I left school because of personal circumstances. However, teaching was the only job that I ever wanted to do. I stayed at home to bring up my four children and, when they were older, I went to university to train. I studied extremely hard, in addition to bringing up my children as a single parent, and got a very good degree. I taught on supply for a year as I was unable to get a job. Luckily I have managed to complete induction through 2 long term supply posts (with periods of supply/unemployment in between) but I am back on the supply agencies’ books. I have not had any work at all this term and, when I have been visiting schools prior to applying for jobs, several have told me that they use TAs to cover PPA and they don’t use supply teachers.

    I am heartbroken at the moment as I am close to going bankrupt, cannot find a job even though I keep applying and I feel that I am on the scrapheap because I am “mature”. I am not expensive as I only qualified in 2007.

  • ConcernedTA said:

    I am a TA who works in a Primary School. The head regularly uses unqualified TAs to cover teacher absence for PPA, sickness etc. The head pays them a higher grade when covering the classes but they either have part TA qualifications or NO qualifications whatsoever!!
    Ironically the one doing the most covering for complete days etc has the least qualifications (ie NOTHING!).
    I have objected to this on several occasions but this just results in the frosty treatment from the TAs doing the covering and from the rest of the staff when word gets around.
    They cover for absence which is known months in advance, so there is no excuse for short notice and the main reason the head does it is they only have to pay around £10 an hour as opposed to £35 an hour for a Supply Teacher.
    This is outrageous. Supply Teachers who have worked long and hard for their QTS are being kept out of work by well meaning but ignorant and unqualified staff who are only to happy to earn a few more quid per hour.
    Please do not blame the TAs though, essentially it is the HEADS who are abusing the system, leaning on support staff to cover what should be done by qualified QTS holding Supply Teachers.
    It amazes me how parents just sit there and let it happen – they moan about so many things which do not matter, and yet on this serious subject they turn a blind eye.
    WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!!!!

    Our children deserve so much better than this!!

  • Teacher said:

    I was attending an interview at a small village school for my child to attend. I ask the head if her TA’s had Degree’s to teach. She admitted that they did not have Degree’s and also stated that she always used the TA to teach as it was much cheaper for her to employ them that way, than use supply teachers from an agency. She even quoted to me how much she could save a year. I asked her if I wanted to become a TA assistant, then what qualifications would I need, she replied none.

    She answered my questions rather “prickly” and I decided not to send my daughter to her school. I do not see why any child should be taught by unqualified staff, for the sake of the Head’s budget.

  • siouxsie said:

    From primary schools I have been involved with as a parent, governor and for a while a staff member in a school office – there are some fantastic members of support staff who have exceptionally good skills and can teach very well – even without QTS. Just because a teacher holds the qualification does not automatically make them better than a person without QTS. Years of experience are far more valuable. Also do not be too hard on the head teachers – they are responsible for the childrens education with a limited budget. As teachers expect to move to the top of the upper payscale and receive various other pay enhancements, the use of experienced but unqualified staff is the only affordable option.

  • Quietgenius said:

    The employment of unqualfied staff as cover “teachers” is unacceptable, undermining, devaluing and actually in denial of the basic educational and human rights of all our children.

    TAs are by definition in the classroom to assist the teaching and learning of pupils under the general direction of the qualified teacher.

    Siouxsie above, I believe has become misguided, unprincipled, brainwashed and hoodwinked by others into the morally wrong and illegal? belief/practice that children should be “taught” by unqualified but experienced teacher assistants.

    Of course there are some excellent TAs within both the primary and secondary sector but because the curriculum is a lot easier to deliver at primary level, headteachers in collusion with TAs are getting away with this highly dubious practice.

    One wonders whether Siouxsie would accept her teenage children being “taught” by dubious, bluffing unqualified staff at Key stages 3, 4 and 5 i.e. GCSE and A-Level as a cynical cost saving ploy!

    Surely she would no doubt opt for a fully qualified and registered secondary specialist teacher? There are some excellent fully qualified unemployed primary school teachers that should be used!

  • TA under pressure said:

    I am yet another concerned Teaching assistant.I work at a primary school and have 8 years experience supporting children in class and in small groups.
    Although I have no problem with covering for a teacher in an emergency(EG until a supply teacher arrives)I have always made it clear that I do not consider myself sufficiently qualified to teach a whole class. However recently I have been put under pressure to teach 2 classes phonics and although this is only for a few half hour sessions a week, I feel that by agreeeing to do so this will lead to me being asked to take on more and more teaching. According to the head it is perfectly acceptable and this is supposedly the reason why I am on a (slightly) higher rate of pay. As a parent myself I think it is totally unacceptable to have children taught by unqualified staff, because it makes a mockery of all the hard work and training teachers have done and it is just a cheap option. Is it a wonder that education in Britain is so poor?

  • HLTA said:

    I work in a primary school in lincolnshire and was a level 3 TA for 3 years covering teacher absences,training etc.Then with budget cuts was put part L3 part L2.All the TAs at the school were told that we would all cover teachers and only get level 2 pay for covering teachers unless we covered for a whole morning/afternoon.PPA cover is done in approx 1hr chunks so we only get paid L2 for covering it.I have not done any cover as an HLTA.

  • Mateen said:

    Woot, I will cerntaliy put this to good use!

  • bowman said:

    Clearly this has impacted us supply teachers, and indeed the locum aspect of the Professional qualification of Q.T.S.

    As I am now on benefits (I am secondary Q.T.S) I do not have the chance to observe the performence of the unqualified (teaching wise staff)So I can’t comment on the performence issue.

    However I think it is fair and reasonable that heads are honest and upfront on how much some teaching groups in secondary have unqualified teachers in front of them.

    I speculate that a lot of difficult groups in secondary get more unqualified teachers in front of them than some of the more achieving teaching groups.

  • Sue said:

    Been browsing the web as I am getting worried about ever getting supply work again. I am a qualified teacher of 27 yrs experience and have passed the threshold for higher earning due to previous teaching responsibilties.
    Went back into supply after covering teaching for 2 maternity leaves where the class teachers returned. Have applied for all relevant jobs, get interviews and then seem to get pipped at the post by less experienced,cheaper teachers.
    I love teaching and as I have a 10 yr old daughter to raise, after my marriage broke down, not working is not an option but despite having visited schools over a wide area -no supply is forthcoming as course days and/or sickness are being covered more cheaply by HLTA’S.
    Having to rely on the state-and hate it!
    Depressingly, my degree seems worthless in any other area of work too- and the only advice I have been given is to retrain and pursue a new career. (At 53!)
    As I’m a bit past the rocket scientist stage I can only presume a new career as a T.A awaits me?
    Apologies- but that truly sucks!!!

  • Sue said:

    Been browsing the web as I am getting worried about ever getting supply work again. I am a qualified teacher of 27 yrs experience and have passed the threshold for higher earning due to previous teaching responsibilties.
    Went back into supply after covering teaching for 2 maternity leaves where the class teachers returned. Have applied for all relevant jobs, get interviews and then seem to get pipped at the post by less experienced,cheaper teachers.
    I love teaching and as I have a 10 yr old daughter to raise, after my marriage broke down, not working is not an option but despite having visited schools over a wide area -no supply is forthcoming as course days and/or sickness are being covered more cheaply by HLTAS.
    Having to rely on the state-and hate it!
    Depressingly, my degree seems worthless in any other area of work too- and the only advice I have been given is to retrain and pursue a new career. (At 53!)
    As I’m a bit past the rocket scientist stage I can only presume a new career as a T.A awaits me?
    Apologies- but that truly sucks!!!

  • HLTA said:

    I do feel sorry for supply teachers and permanent teachers because of all the hard work they had to do to get their teaching qualification. Most TAs don’t want to cover classes but are forced/bullied into it by heads.In an emergency it is a different story.When I voiced our concerns the reply basicly was a statement saying about the buget and how she didn’t want anyone loosing their jobs.So nobody dare mention it again as we don’t want to loose our jobs.

    HLTA

  • Petronius Philips said:

    Come, come HLTA have the guts to say loudly and clearly to the hypocritical, morally corrupt and utterly despicable headteacher and other disrespectful numbskulls that ONLY FULLY QUALIFIED AND REGISTERED TEACHERS should be teaching our children.

    Would you want your own children to be “taught” by some unqualified person?

    Thousands of qualified supply teachers have already lost their jobs.
    What is so precious about yours and your obtuse conniving and corrupted head as she/he devalues hi/her own QTS? Utterly unacceptable!

  • Suzanne Lazarus said:

    I am a SEN teacher with 25 years experience. I am amazed at the amount of ‘teaching’ LSA are required to do. Agreed, some are naturally talented and are a huge positive to the life of a school. But they are no doubt doing the job of a qualified teacher at a fraction of the cost. This makes for tension in the staff room. They should either be trained and paid appropriately – or schools should receive budget centrally to support small group teaching by fully trained teachers.

  • ka123 said:

    As a HlTA i feel that my experience and qualifications are ample to support the teachers i work with. I cover for teachers ppa time on a regular basis and the planning is always available. I am quite offended by some comments on this web site, as i am more than capable supervising a class… You do not need to have a degree to follow plans. I have met many many NQTs over the years and although they have been to university have no experience in the classroom and the children are aware of this and have played them up. So come on dont be harsh on HLTAs we are just doing our job to support what the teacher ‘should’ have planned, and from my experience the parents would rather have a known person with their children than a complete stanger each time they need cover.

  • Kath said:

    Schools are abusing the support staff. I worked in this capacity previously and realised I was not receiving the pay or other benefits associated with being a qualified teacher. I think a lot of support staff are exceptionally capable, sometimes more so, but it is totally unfair on them, let alone the children.

  • HLTA said:

    I do have the guts to speak out.I have spoken out on several occasions and once I have done that a couple other TAs will back me up. But at our meetings I get ‘shouted down’.It is not a good place to be when you are on the wrong side of your head teacher and senior management.
    I love my job and have done it for 11 years.I work very hard and I am highly qualified to do my job. There will always be someone ready to jump into my shoes.I had my hours cut once before when I spoke up.Obviously this wasn’t the reason given, but it happened.I do feel that teachers should voice their concerns more. They have the power to tell their unions that they don,t agree with what is going on.

    HLTA

  • HLTA said:

    I have been employed as an HLTA for 7 years (I was a TA for 6 years prior to gaining HLTA status). As a TA I was enrolled at Bretton Teaching College for a year learning how to teach Literacy and Numeracy. I believe this is more training than any NQT receives for two of the core curricular subjects. To gain HLTA status I had to satisfy the TTA of my competence to achieve all 32 standards required of an NQT.
    During our last OFSTED I was observed and was awarded a ‘good’ report, the majority of my qualified colleagues received a ‘satisfactory’ report. I am offended by many comments on here that unqualified practitioners are offering sub standard teaching.
    Apart from having a degree, I consider myself adequately qualified to teach at KS2. Some of my colleagues have abstract degrees (eg Archeology), and some older colleagues have no degree at all, as ‘in their day’ they didn’t need one to do their Teacher Training. Are these teachers held with the same contempt?
    I do agree that I am cheap labour and that I am taken advantage of in the workplace, but please don’t accuse me of delivering a sub standard education to our children.

  • Helen said:

    In response to the last comment made by HLTA I would say that I would be more than happy for her to cover my sons yr 2 class.
    However I am not happy for his class to be taught by an inexperienced,unqualified teaching assistant.
    I have just noticed this happening recently at my sons school where I regularly volunteer.
    I overheard the TA saying how she was going to bluff her way through the mornings lessons because she didn’t really know what she was doing!
    I am appalled that this goes on in schools.Most of the parents do not know this is happening,they assume their children are being taught by a qualified teacher! In response to the earlier post which said parents should ‘ wake up and smell the coffee’

  • jane said:

    I would like to know whether parents should be officially notified if an HLTA is covering their child’s class – for PPA, or for if a teacher is ill.
    It happens in my infant school for all PPA, and now for 1 day a week for 6 months as a part-time teacher has left. Also one class had fulltime cover for a term from 2 HLTAs working together in the class, when a teacher had left. I have to say, they were very good, but parents didn’t realise that neither was a teacher.
    I feel this shouldn’t be happening – for lots of reasons.
    But the parents have never been told, even about the PPA cover.
    Surely they have a right to know..?

  • Mrs Bec said:

    I have been a teaching assistant for nearly 14 years. Over the last 18 months I have been put under particular pressure to cover classes not only for absenteeism but for large group input (10-15) children in a separate room from the class teacher,(at the moment every day for the literacy period). Whilst I know I have qualifications, experience and the ability, (level 3),to do this, I do not want the responsibly.I also know that most of my TA colleagues are more than able to take classes-from my experience better than most supply teachers!The point being I do not get any extra pay for this. We receive,in my county,40 weeks pay per year,not 52.This brings our monthly pay down. I also have 3 A levels and a degree in a science- many of my TA friends have also assorted qualifications. So I can allay parents worries,in most cases, that their children aren’t getting the best teaching when TA’s are used.However, I repeat,I do not want the responsibility,especially for the money I receive.This situation is going to get worse as pressure is put on schools to cut costs and head-teachers ignore the stress and worries that are (just like teachers)affecting the health of support staff.

  • Mrs K said:

    My daughter’s Year 5 class is taken for one whole day each week by a HLTA. On top of this, the HLTA quite often (though not every week) has them for another half day. The class teacher is the school deputy head and obviously has an entitlement to PPA time, but is it acceptable for him to be out of the classroom for this amount of time? I would appreciate hearing people’s views on this.

  • Ms. H said:

    Well, as teacers I must say that some of you – most of you- are very small minded when passing judgements!

    I studied very hard at University to become a teacher, graduating top of the whole University, being offered a TA position before I graduted and then immediately taken on as a full-time teacher at tyhe same school when I gained my teaching degree. I worked there as a teacher for 3 years…

    I am now in my 4th year of teaching and am employed as an unqualified teacher here in the UK – why? Because my degree was gained outside of the UK!

    Do my experience and qualifications count for nothing with you?? Is it DISGRACEFUL that I have had nothing but ‘good’ observations since I started this post while some of the ‘qualified’ teachers have had unsatisfactory??

    I am in the process of doing my OTTP and will have QTS by the end of this academic year.

    Thank goodness for that or I’d have to be accused of doing a job that I am good at and love but which is ‘unacceptable, undermining, devaluing and actually in denial of the basic educational and human rights of all our children.’

  • ConscientiousHLTA said:

    I am honestly shocked at the level of vitriol being spat in HLTA’s directions here by some posters. Most HLTAs are hardworking and extremely knowledgable in the subjects that they are tasked with teaching, whether it’s whole classes or interventions. If HLTA work is available and HLTAs want the jobs and get them because shock horror they are very competent so what? I’ve seen many a truly useless supply teacher waltz in at 8.55, demand a blow by blow account of the planning, decide they in their own words couldn’t be bothered with it and get some colouring equipment out…but I wouldn’t tar all supplies with the same brush because I’ve met some who were indeed competent and cared. We’ve had to send supplies home drunk, for verbally battering the kids (one screamed at a kid with severe SEN because he couldn’t dress himself after PE..apparently her child could dress himself at 9 months old..hmm, ok!) but my point is, that if an HLTA goes through the same process of being performance managed, observed teaching by SLT and ofsted and they make the cut and are HAPPY to do it then back off. For fully grown educators some of you need to re-read your tirades back to yourselves and realise how very bitter you sound. I’d go so far as bullying, for some of you!

  • Jane said:

    I am employed as a Level 3 TA in a small primary school, I have worked there for 6yrs. I am not expected to cover PPA I am expected to have my own class full time! I have to do everything that is expected of a fully qualified teacher but minus the pay! I have told my HT on many occasions that I am NOT a teacher and nor do I wish to be a teacher, sadly this has fallen on deaf ears! Also we have a HLTA with only 2yrs experience of working with children who takes whole classes for Maths and Science. I make it known to parents that I am not a teacher, however the HLTA revels in the fact the parents think she is a teacher. HT gets away with this practice because of the ‘wishy washy’ statutory requirements of who can carry out ‘specified work’, : The Headteacher must be satisfied that the support staff member has the skills, expertise and experience required to carry out this work and advance the learning of the whole class!!! As a parent myself I would be furious if this was happening in my children’s school.

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