It is difficult to tell, although figures suggest that over 400,000 children are being taught by unqualified teachers – so it must be working for somebody.
In the past all teachers needed to have achieved QTS Qualified Teacher Status. The government gave Free Schools the freedom to employ non-qualified teachers to enable them to bring in subject specialists; as many independent schools have done successfully for years. The policy was expanded in 2012 to include Academies too.
Free schools have certainly jumped on this opportunity with 32 percent employing teachers with no formal teaching qualification. With two-thirds of Free schools being rated as good or outstanding it appears that employing unqualified teachers hasn’t hindered progress.
There is naturally a degree of concern with children being taught by unqualified teachers as there would be if the children are being taught poorly.
Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools, has said that unqualified teachers should be accredited as soon as possible after their appointment.
Chris Husbands, the director of the Institute of Education, said the decision to remove the requirement for teachers to gain qualified teacher status in state-funded schools “flies in the face of evidence nationally and internationally.
There is however a severe lack of subject specialist in schools in certain areas, take the good old one regarding ICT, it is very clear that there are simply not enough qualified teachers with the skills required to teach coding to today’s code hungry children.
Teaching kids how to use MS Word and MS Excel is very helpful but that is a couple of hours followed up with self-study homework and that is about it. The interesting bit is setting up websites using HTML5 and CSS and then developing into programing languages to create interactive sites connected to a backend database.
It is true that there are very few students intending to become teachers that have the depth of ICT skills to address this severe shortage. There is plenty of information available for self-study on the Internet to help but most existing ICT teachers are concerned that engaging with this online content is diving into the unknown and that control might be lost. Really, it must be better than spending interminable hours learning how to use “high street” packages.
So what should a school do if there are few qualified teachers with the skills? There is a very good argument to engage subject experts willing to invest their time in schools. Clearly the schools need to closely support these subject specialist and to monitor their progress and the progress of the pupils.
If it works everybody benefits, if it isn’t working the schools has the option to put in additional classroom assistance to better manage the class if that is the problem or to support the unqualified teacher in better preparation so they can improve quickly. Or the school finds an alternative subject specialist.
So lots of options for the schools with these freedoms and in ICT and coding alone this is certainly an area where children should benefit significantly by changing the traditional approach that is frankly failing and the slower we are to address the issue the further UK PLC will fall behind.