The National Education Union Cymru understands that many schools are using people without Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) to teach classes.
David Evans, Wales Secretary of the National Education Union Cymru, said:
“Schools in Wales shouldn’t be using unqualified teachers, it’s not fair on the children and young people and it’s not fair on the education professionals, who are being effectively asked to teach a lesson without the proper training or pay. We don’t want education on the cheap here in Wales.”
“Head Teachers and governing bodies have a clear responsibility to ensure that support staff are not exploited. Using qualified teachers in our schools is of the utmost importance to our members. We want children and young people to have access to the best education, delivered by qualified teachers and supported by well-trained support staff.”
The text of the motion to conference on this issue was as follows:
Motion 9. Use of Unqualified Staff
Conference Cymru notes with concern the growing use of our teaching assistant colleagues including HLTAs and cover supervisors to teach classes both long and short term. Conference Cymru understands that many schools are using people without Qualified Teacher Status to teach classes.
Conference Cymru notes that in the NEU 2019 survey of support staff members, 76% of members who undertake cover supervision reported no difference in criteria between their duties and those of a supply teacher. Furthermore, 73% of those acting as cover supervisors said it is not possible to supervise a class in their school without delivering a lesson themselves.
Conference Cymru believes that in particular, Head Teachers and governing bodies have a clear responsibility to ensure that support staff are not exploited, and they should review their individual cover policies to ensure that activities are only undertaken by those members of staff who are appropriately qualified according to the Effective management of school workforce attendance document 2017.
Conference Cymru believes that because of budget constraints, schools are using agencies to employ cover supervisors to teach classes. Conference Cymru also believes that with the advent of the National Procurement Service’s New Framework Agreement that this practice is becoming more prevalent. Cover supervision should only be used for short-term absences. The absences might be known in advance (for example, where a teacher has a medical appointment) or unexpected (for example, absence due to illness). Longer-term absences – e.g. due to long-term sick or maternity leave, should always be covered by a qualified teacher.
In view of the guidance above, Conference Cymru instructs the Executive through the Wales Committee to:
- Issue guidance to all members of the NEU in Wales regarding their rights and responsibilities in the classroom regarding who can teach and when.
- Remind headteachers and governing bodies that there should be a qualified teacher in every classroom.
- Ensure our support staff colleagues are aware of what they are allowed and not allowed to do according to the regulations set out in the Effective management of school workforce attendance 2017 document, ensuring they know that they have the support of the largest education union should they be asked to do something outside of their remit.
- Encourage whistleblowing; the Cabinet Secretary for Education has repeatedly told us that she welcomes being told when guidelines are being breached.
- Add a new fourth paragraph:
Conference Cymru notes with dismay the increasing incidences of nursery classes being led by a HLTA rather than a qualified teacher. Whilst not wishing to denigrate our HLTA colleagues, Conference Cymru believes that all children in schools, no matter how young, have the right to be taught by a qualified teacher.
- Insert new number 5:
- Lobby, campaign and negotiate to ensure that all class size legislation and staff deployment regulations includes all nursery classes in all schools. They cannot be ignored simply because they are under statutory school age.
The National Education Union is an amalgamation of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and National Union of Teachers (NUT), formed on 1 September 2017. Please see the below contact details for assistance:
Contact: David Evans, National Education Union, Tŷ Sinnott, 18 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff CF24 5PJ. Tel: 029 20491818. Mob: 07815 071164.
Contact: Mary van den Heuvel, National Education Union, Tŷ Sinnott, 18 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff CF24 5PJ. Tel: 029 20491818.
Note to editors:
- The National Education Union stands up for the future of education. It brings together the voices of teachers, lecturers, support staff and leaders working in maintained and independent schools and colleges to form the largest education union in Wales.
- The National Education Union is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). It is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties.