DfE announce unqualified teachers move just as Olympics starts


As the country became gripped with Olympic fever the DfE decided it was a good time to release the news of its latest “academy freedom”. In the future academies will no longer have to employ qualified teachers enjoying the same “freedom” that free schools do.

In angry exchanges on Twitter last night Sam Freedman from the DfE suggested that several academies had “asked” the DfE for this freedom but refused to either name them or even say how many. He said the news had been welcomed by the IAA a somewhat ironically named organisation - Independent Academies Association. In fact this body seems to consist mainly of academy chains rather then erm independent academies.

But the clue is in the word independent. The real motivation behind this reform seems to be to simply do what private schools do because that must be best. The fact it will help weaken the power of teaching unions and initial teacher training colleges is doubtless seen as a bonus.

Christine Blower of the NUT reached angrily to the move, quoted in the Guardian she said:
The NUT believes all children deserve to be taught by qualified teachers," she said. Blower said a poll conducted by the union last year found that 89% of parents wanted a qualified teacher to teach their child. "Parents and teachers will see this as a cost-cutting measure that will cause irreparable damage to children's education," she said. "Schools need a properly resourced team of qualified teachers and support staff, not lower investment dressed up as 'freedoms'."
In the Blogsphere the excellent Scenes from the battleground blog which has taken a pro-government line in many recent reforms said:
For a short time it seemed the tide might actually be turning. The government might actually be against dumbing-down. They might actually want teachers to know what they are doing. They might have an educational agenda beyond privatisation and union-bashing. They might actually care about what happens in the nation’s classrooms. My optimism just ended. Tonight the government announced (apparently on Twitter) that academies would be able to employ unqualified teachers (i.e. without QTS). Now I don’t want to overdo the value of QTS. Some PGCE courses are dire. The training signified by QTS is not always worth a lot. However, what QTS does represent is a commitment to join the profession. If you want to dedicate your life to teaching then you needed to, at the very least, work towards QTS status. Teaching was not seen as something you do for a few months when there are no better jobs available. It is a career and a profession, not something to be done in a gap year before starting a real career.
This points out how completely unnecessary the reform is. Justifying it the DfE stated:
Independent schools and free schools can already hire brilliant people who have not got QTS. "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 state schools before. "We expect the vast majority of teachers will continue to have QTS. This additional flexibility will help schools improve faster. No existing teacher contract is affected by this minor change."
But the DfE seem to forget that there is nothing stopping any school hiring unqualified staff and once in place there is already a graduate teaching programme to allow them to qualify whilst on the job. As Scenes from the Battleground rightly point out getting QTS isn’t exactly rocket science but it does require a degree of commitment.

Frankly anyone not prepared to put in the effort to get QTS isn’t fit to be in the job and I would share the view of the massive majority of parents who want and expect qualified staff.

The DfE itself obviously thought this was such a popular move that it deserved to be launched in the school holidays just as the Olympics was starting….Sadly I fear that the government does not in fact have an educational agenda beyond privatisation and union bashing.
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