Wanted: Unqualified maths teachers

By Bernadette Meaden
November 22, 2013

Advice often given to young people is study hard, get your A-Levels, go to University, and then take up a profession. Perhaps become a teacher, lawyer, engineer etc.

Apparently in the new world of Free Schools and Academies, that advice is hopelessly old hat. South Leeds Academy is now advertising for two Maths teachers, and the qualifications considered essential are four GCE’s at Grade C or above. This is not a spoof, although it has already been used as material in a stand up comedy show and a very amusing Twitter debate

Here is the advertisement where you will find a link to download the application pack. The school is run by the Schools Partnership Trust, which runs 41 Academies in the North of England, and has plans to expand. And let’s be clear, they are not advertising for classroom assistants or support staff. They want unqualified Maths teachers, who will be paid in term time only, and according to the UQT (unqualified teacher) pay scale

When the ability to employ unqualified teachers was granted to Academies last year, a Department for Education spokesperson said, ‘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’.

Supporters of the policy enthused about the inspiring and talented people who would now be able to pass on their knowledge to children who would otherwise be deprived of the intellectual riches such candidates could offer.

Opponents of the policy warned that that this was actually a way of undermining the teaching profession, eroding pay and conditions, and thus paving the way for profit-making chains of accademies, something that critics say right wing politicians, including Michael Gove, have long desired.

The advertisement for two Maths teachers with only GCSE qualifications would suggest that the latter group were nearer the truth

In July it was reported that "Academies and free schools should become profit-making businesses using hedge funds and venture capitalists to raise money, according to private plans being drawn up by the Education Secretary, Michael Gove". Decent pay and conditions for teachers may be seen as something of an obstacle to a venture capitalist looking to make money from our childrens’ education.

Governments are fond of ‘sending messages’ so what message does this send to students? It tells them that teaching is not a highly valued profession, and that perhaps the students in the Sixth Form are more highly qualified than the person standing in front of them.

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© Bernadette Meaden has written about political, religious and social issues for some years, and is strongly influenced by Christian Socialism, liberation theology and the Catholic Worker movement. She is an Ekklesia associate and regular contributor. You can follow her on Twitter: @BernaMeaden

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