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unqualified staff in state schools

(20 Posts)
nearmiss Sat 13-Aug-11 16:10:22

Many secondary and primary schools are now using support staff to do tasks which are not within their remit.

For example, a cover supervisor is only employed to cover lessons for absent staff. They are paid significantly less than a qualified teacher. Theoretically they need only to be over the age of 18 and to possess GCSE level literacy and numeracy skills in order to be considered for the post.

Most local authorities have guidelines on the deployment of cover supervisors which stipulate that cover supervisors

- only provide short term cover for absent staff (there is no clear definition of short term but I take it to mean no more than a week for any individual teacher)
- only supervise lessons that have been planned and resourced by the absent teacher
- are not required to provide their own resources for lessons
- are not required to plan or mark students' work
- are not required to cover practical lessons such as science, technology or sports unless fully supported by a qualified teacher
- are not required to write reports or attend parents' evenings
- are not required to do admin. tasks or cleaning when there are no staff absenses
- are provided with support at all times
- are not required to carry out break or lunch duties
- are given regular training for professional development.

I am aware that many schools are not complying with these guidelines.

If you work as a cover supervisor or TA in your local school or you know of cover supervisors, teaching assistants or admin. staff in your local school who are being given the full responsibilities of a teacher, please notify the LEA and the school's Board of Governors. If they are working as teachers, they should be paid as teachers.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 13-Aug-11 18:04:13

And many private schools only started using staff with teaching qualifications (BEd or PGCE) in the last few years
and were dragged into CRB checks kicking and screaming amid a flurry of resignations.

At my kids (state) primary school, at least three of the TAs were highly qualified teachers who had had to retire through stress and were now working as TAs :and were EXCELLENT at classroom management.

There IS NO one size fits all
or the money to pay for it.

myrosynose Sat 13-Aug-11 18:06:01

yes it is worrying

but then, many private school have been happy for years to have the children "taught" by people with no teaching qualifications at all

you have always had to be qualified to teach in a proper school

it is a shame to see standards eroded but at least the standard was there in the first place

Loshad Sat 13-Aug-11 23:06:44

the usual old rubbish spouted on mumsnet - state schools only employ proper teachers, private schools only employ unqualified rubbish.
At least 25 years ago, and right up until at least 5 years ago state schools in Yorkshire were taking unqualified scientists to teach science. They can't be paid on the teacher scales, but these folk were planning lessons, teaching, marking and everything else i do as a teacher. I know of numerous scientists who ended up doing this.

Having said that, the vast majority of schools - both state and private only employ qualified teachers as teachers.

Cover supervisors are mostly a real boon to schools and teachers, If I have to be away from my class i can plan and leave a proper lesson, and know it will be delivered, (and they know the kids) - which may, or may not be the case if we have to get in a supply teacher. Some supply teachers are fab, however some are awful and the students learn little or nothing.

As is always the way in this world, some schools will always try to bend the system, and have cover supervisors teaching long term, planning etc. Those are usually the schools you don't want to work in, and don't want to send your kids to.

nearmiss Sun 14-Aug-11 02:20:28

I hear what you are saying Loshad. Those schools who are bending the rules can get away with it because there is no body responsible for checking the ratio of qualfiied to unqualified staff in a school or how those staff are deployed.

Neither the LEA nor Ofsted take account of this so the figures to measure whether or not this has any impact on learning do not exist. It is just an unacknowledged problem. In fact, those schools who do keep spending down with "efficency savings" are congratulated.

Parents are largely unaware that this is going on right under their noses.

I think that this will only continue to be the case as Headteachers under the Coalition will have greater autonomy from Government and LEAs.

mumslife Mon 15-Aug-11 12:27:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jinx1906 Mon 15-Aug-11 13:44:42

A qualified teacher does not necessarily make a good teacher. If I had a choice between someone who is not qualified but is good at what they are doing and the children are making good progress, then I would prefer this over someone who is qualified but totally demoralised or could not care less.

At our state primary teaching was so bad that we ended up buying the books and made sure our children were where they should be for maths, reading and writing because it was not happening at school. Those teachers were all qualified as far as we are aware.

TheMonster Mon 15-Aug-11 13:47:48

The cover supervisors in my school are excellent and don't do anything other than what they are meant to.

nearmiss Fri 19-Aug-11 00:50:40

Eeyore, I don't doubt that cover supervisors on the whole are great, so why don't they get paid the same rates as qualified teachers? Unlike yours, a lot of schools are getting away with using them as cheap labour and sadly there is no section of Ofsted or the LEA which regulates this.
Jinx, of course in any profession, there are those who don't chime with everyone. What one person might consider to be an effective teacher might be a total bore to someone else. What concerns me is that schools are being pushed into taking short cuts to save money. When it comes to secondary education, it is absolutely essential that teachers have the subject knowledge to take students all the way through to A level regardless of whether they serve the topics up with a flourish or not.
There are no absolute rules on what proportion of the staff in any one school need to be qualified. The trend towards creating so-called admin. posts for the role of year head and academic mentors etc. (i.e. paid about £12,000 per annum on a pro rata term time only basis) is on the increase. These people are being used for small group teaching and in some cases, whole class teaching.
Look at the staff lists of your local schools and ask questions.

nearmiss Fri 19-Aug-11 01:00:04

If anyone, like me, feels that the Government is completely ignoring the issue of efficiency savings in schools, they need to complain. Unqualified staff are increasing being given classes to teach. It is simply assumed that lower sets, whose GCSE targets are below a grade C do not need the best staff.
The current White Paper "The Importance of Teaching" stresses how vital teacher training is. So why on earth does this loophole exist?

TheMonster Fri 19-Aug-11 11:59:01

In theory, a cover supervisor isn't planning lessons, schemes of work, marking work and taking responsibility for the progress of hundreds of children, so they shouldn't get the same amount of money.

For the pupils, it is far better to have lessons covered by a familiar member of staff who knows the pupils and the school's sytems, than an unknown supply teacher.

I get more angry about schools emplying trainee teachers and NQTs over more experienced teachers because of cost.

beckybrastraps Fri 19-Aug-11 12:06:39

We have qualified teachers, unqualified teachers and cover supervisors. Unqualified teachers tend to teach vocational subjects and have experience and qualifications relevant to that but not QTS. In my school, they are excellent and their experience outside education is extrememly motivating for their students. Cover supervisors cover lessons. They are, for short term absence, far preferable to a supply teacher, IMO. We have one cover supervisor who has taken on covering a longer term absence. She is qualified to degree level in that subject and was moved to unqualified teacher scale while she did the cover. The qualified teacher/unqualified teacher discrepancy in pay may be up for discussion I think, but not the qualified teacher/cover supervisor difference.

Salmotrutta Fri 19-Aug-11 13:13:41

This is interesting - up here in Scotland there are only qualified teachers (or NQTs) teaching in classrooms. Cover is done by other teachers in the school or supply teachers who are also fully qualified. We aren't allowed to leave a Teaching Assistant in full charge of a class - but you can sometimes have a a qualified teacher specialising in Support for learning who is there to help pupils with additional needs. They are not there to lead the class though as they are not subject specialists.
In secondary, during teacher absence they are only allowed to use other subject teachers to cover lessons for 4 (I think it's 4 - brain fail!) consecutive days then they must get in a supply subject teacher if the absence is going to be longer term.
Parents up here would not be happy at non-specialists teaching particular subjects and it simply wouldn't happen. You have to be fully qualified and registered with the GTCS in your subject.

noblegiraffe Sat 20-Aug-11 05:55:10

Loshad you should not be planning and leaving a 'proper' lesson for a cover supervisor to deliver in the same way you would a supply teacher. They are a supervisor not a teacher and should not be expected to teach.

nearmiss Sun 21-Aug-11 14:30:55

Eeyore, we know that, theoretically, a cover supervisor is employed only to supervise a pre-planned lesson on a day to day basis, but this is not the case in so many schools where they are being asked to do a great deal more. This is unfair to everyone. It undermines teachers' pay scales if it becomes clear that people are prepared to do more work for less money. People are scared of losing their jobs or confronting their managers and so they often allow themselves to be exploited in this way.

When I worked as a supply teacher, I found that the same schools asked me back repeatedly to the extent that the students thought I was a member of staff as I was there every day. They got used to me so work and behaviour standards were very good. The argument that cover supervisors provide continuity really does not stand up in a large secondary school where there will be 2 or 3 staff out on any day. Classes used to be covered by supply teachers either from the county's own bank or an agency.

Salmofrutta, in England, cover supervisors should not be covering long term absences but surprisingly, the Department for Education does not define precisely what long term is, so again, many schools are just saving money by piling pressure on the cover supervisor to take over the full role for weeks on end. This is completely unacceptable.

Again, the point of starting this thread was to raise awareness of this matter and to urge parents to check out just who is working at their school. It concerns me that non-teaching staff are being required to do a great deal more than just support teachers. There are no limits, as far as I know, to the number of admin. and auxillary staff a school can employ. If you can get two "learning mentors" for the price of one teacher, it represents a big saving.

Neither Ofsted, the LEA or any other official body is charged with the responsibility of monitoring who is being used as teaching staff. If the job description gives the impression that a person is being employed as an administrator, no one can check if that is what the employee is actually being asked to do.

mollymole Sun 21-Aug-11 15:35:45

i would be more concerned at the quality of teaching being delivered, not who is delivering it - i have met some excellent teachers and some who were
useless, in the same way some of the 'cover staff' were a damn site better
than the teachers, particularly with literacy, and some were abysmal. quality, should be paramount, not letters on paper

nearmiss Sun 21-Aug-11 23:45:24

Maybe so, Molly. Still, I'm sure most people would like to think that staff who are teaching their kids in secondary school have a thorough knowledge of their subject and have not just read one page ahead of the students.
Again, the current policy about to come into implementation under the coalition's latest white paper (Which everyone should read if you really want to see just how many cliches you can fit onto 81 pages) states that only those people who are high scoring graduates will be allowed into post -graduate training which will be rigorous so that newly qualified teachers will have the highest possible standards.

It is still an internationally accepted norm that teachers should be knowledgable. Those countries whom the white paper holds up models of good practice, such as Korea certainly don't bother with pretty lessons led by charismatic teachers. Their schools still insist on repetitive drilling led by teachers whose status is respected because they have worked very hard to master their subject. They have a lot of certificates and letters after their name and they earned them. They are also highly paid, i.e. on a par with other professionals which also attracts people who might otherwise follow a career elsewhere. Oddly the white paper makes no reference to that.

Three years ago, before cover supervisors became the norm, supply staff had to be qualified teachers who were brought into secondary schools to work in their specialist areas, such as Modern Languages where it is impossible to teach without mastery of the subject matter. They were also paid professional rates. Not any more.

I think the foregoing discussion has established that there are academics who are not thrilling teachers and conversely there are engaging people who can keep a class busy but lack specialist knowledge. However, many schools are employing cover supervisors who have not studied at university but nonetheless they are required to do far more than just cover prepared lessons and increasingly find themselves being used as cheap teachers.

Which takes me back to the headline, which I shall not drop until people wake up to the fact that schools are taking admin. staff and auxilliary staff off their scheduled work and standing them up in front of classes because it saves money.

Kez100 Mon 22-Aug-11 04:08:09

Nearmiss, there is no money. If you had your way then the money would have to come from somewhere else, there is no spare. So, larger class sizes or less curriculum choice. The money just doesn't exist.

Yes, we could rally the Government, but there are rather more pressing matters - I'd argue Uni fees, teachers would argue their pension scheme, others might argue police in streets.

nearmiss Mon 22-Aug-11 11:03:44

Kez, the education budget in the compulsory sector has not been cut as such, to the best of my knowledge. It has risen, albeit not in step percentage-wise with global inflation but in cash terms, it has actually risen very slightly. Now is not the time to be negative. The current thinking is for individual institutions to increase their revenue which is fine. Many good schools are doing this already. They can let out their premises and sports facilities at weekends and evening for events and for other education providers such as adult basic skills to boost funds. They can curtail expenditure by finding sponsors for sports equipment, stationery, IT, minibuses, library facilities even premises maintenance can be subsidised by the business partners and community links. Expert teachers in their subject area can copyright the teaching resources that they create and make a subscriber only website so that other education providers can pay to access and use them under license. It's already being done.

The potential to generate funds is there in so many ways. If you look at the actual figures for your school you will see that there is leeway. We are talking about millions of pounds from the LEA for each school. Assuming an experienced teacher on Pay Scale 6 (no London weighting) is on £32,000 plus oncosts, it is not a massive dent on the total budget. The Governors are obliged to publish the figures and you have a right to ask to see minutes of meetings if you want to know the details. I'm not sure what happened to the scheme to draft in ex military personnel to augment the teaching profession, but I suspect they were on enhanced pay or at least, receiving their training free of charge. The article below is worth a read.

The internationally accepted model of good teaching, using the expertise of trained professionals doesn't have to cost more money. It requires a more targetted redistribution of the existing budget which invidual head teachers handle. They are at the mercy of Governors who are railroading schools into making unnecessary savings in human resources by creating lower grade jobs but expecting people in those lower grade jobs to work above and beyond their remit. It's not difficult to speculate what could happen if this trend is allowed to continue unchecked. Either the Government is going to deliver on its promises as enshrined in the White Paper or not. We need to insist that they do. The question of schools saving money by means of exploiting non-teaching staff is not even on the Government's agenda. We need to make sure that it is.

I am indeed in favour of state education for all and equal pay for equal work for those who do it. The right for all boys and girls to go to school and the right for workers including teachers to have fair working conditions is what people fought and died for in the past. It's why you and I can read and write at all. Doing away with teachers altogether is a long way off. E-learning has been shown to have its limitations. People need to interact with each other under expert guidance of a real person present in the room in order to learn.

The question of Police numbers on the street has minimal impact on the education budget as that is the responsibility of the Home Office.

nearmiss Mon 22-Aug-11 12:59:04
another interesting snippet here.
Any spot what doesn't get mentioned?

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