A Montessori free school which has been approved to go forward to the business case stage by education secretary Michael Gove has been told by officials that it will not need to employ teachers with Qualified Teacher Status.
The Discovery New School to be set up in Crawley, West Sussex, by Lindsay and Andrew Snowdon would become the first state-funded primary in the country to adopt a whole-school Montessori approach. Mr Snowdon told Nursery World the school would employ teachers with degrees but they have been told by the department that teachers do not have to have QTS.
'It's up to us to prove the teaching standard is appropriate,' he said.
Another group approved to set up a primary free school said that the document for putting together a business case does not specify QTS or ask for detailed information about the qualification levels of teachers.
The DfE has said free schools will be governed by the same legal rules as academies, which must employ qualified teachers. But the Government could bring in amendments to the Education and Children's Bill, to be published this autumn, which would also change the legal requirements for free schools.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said, 'The NUT is deeply concerned that there may be a question of whether free schools should employ qualified teachers. All children are entitled to attend a good local school and a prerequisite for this is that they are taught by fully qualified teachers.'
Earlier this year Barking and Dagenham council in London turned down a proposal by the Montessori Schools Association to set up the first Montessori state primary school because Montessori teachers are not considered 'graduate' teachers.
- Party activists at the Liberal Democrat conference defeated party leadership in a conference vote on free schools on Monday.