FEARS have been raised pupils in Worcestershire are being ‘robbed of a decent education’ due to the amount of unqualified teachers in schools across the country.
Latest figures published by the Department of Education revealed there were more than 17,000 unqualified staff teaching in state-funded schools nationwide.
This led Coun Paul Denham to urge county council bosses to launch an investigation into the situation at a meeting last Thursday (May 14) as he feared it was putting the education of thousands of children ‘in jeopardy’.
He said he had no idea how many unqualified teachers had attempted to teach children in Worcestershire’s state-funded schools.
And he added: “Would we be happy to use an unqualified doctor, nurse, accountant, architect, surveyor, solicitor or engineer? I don’t think so.”
The Labour councillor, who is a former teacher, said he felt unqualified staff were being ‘abused and exploited’ by schools and believed it was denying qualified teachers the chance of employment.
“This is a crude cost-cutting measure which reduces the quality of education provided to an increasing proportion of our children.
“It is robbing children of a fundamental entitlement which should be a great concern to everyone in this chamber and beyond.”
Labour leader Coun Peter McDonald said he was also in favour of looking into it further, adding: “This has been kept under wraps for far too long and parents should know if their children are being taught by unqualified teachers and no doubt knowing they would move their children to schools where teachers are qualified.”
However, Coun John Campion, cabinet member for children and families, insisted he did not ‘recognise the stats’ that were contained within the motion.
“Schools overall effectiveness is judged to be at least good nationally is 81 per cent whereas in Worcestershire it is 89 per cent, so the stats do not back up the outrage in the argument which have been forward,” he said.
“I don’t think we can just attack schools saying this is the position across the country of where unqualified people are teaching our young people and letting them down because that’s simply not the case and we would categorically refute that.”
Coun Liz Turner said she found Coun Denham’s comments ‘hard to vote against’ as she believed teachers should be qualified, but she insisted she did not agree with the ‘language of the motion’.
Council leader Coun Adrian Hardman said he had contacted John Draper, the county council’s children’s services operational manager for staffing, who said they were not ‘out of line’ with other authorities.
A total of 29 councillors voted against the motion, with 12 in favour of it and nine abstaining.