Commenting on a new teaching apprenticeship to be launched this autumn, Daniel Kebede, General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
"The teaching apprenticeship programme is an acknowledgement of the crisis in teacher recruitment but is the wrong way to address it.
"The NEU wants to see more teachers in schools as an absolute priority, but it is essential that professional standards are maintained, and that new entrants to the profession are fully qualified before they embark on the early career stage of their practice. The apprenticeship scheme puts those standards at risk, placing underqualified and inexperienced teachers into classrooms. It is not fair on pupils or apprentice teachers.
"Without much more detail it is impossible to see how this scheme will work in practice: how already overstretched schools will manage the pressure on training resources and timetables – and how the pay structure for apprentice teachers will work in a way that will not cause confusion and, potentially, a sense of unfairness among established teaching staff.
"Apprenticeships give people a chance to build skills and careers, and are a vital part of our education system, but this is not the way to go about meeting the challenges of recruitment into teaching. Teachers should be graduates. However low pay, high workload and oppressive accountability measures mean that graduates are not willing to enter schools – and of those that do, many more than are currently being replaced are leaving after a few years.
"The fanfare around this announcement is a noisy distraction – a wilful refusal to see the problems that are obvious, and to deliver the reforms that are needed to get the teachers we desperately need back into the profession."