Schools regularly using support staff in place of qualified teachers

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Nearly a third of school support staff have covered a lesson in the absence of a qualified teacher for more than three days in a row, according to a new survey.

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The Association of Teachers and Lecturers, which polled more than 1,400 teaching assistants and cover supervisors, says that in most cases, support staff should only cover classes if the regular teacher is off sick, on training, or unavailable for a few days.

Of the 400 plus who said they stand in for the regular class teacher when they are off sick or on a training course, 60 per cent reported doing the same work as fully qualified teachers.

More than a fifth (22 per cent) of respondents reported covering more lessons in 2012/13 than the previous year.

Dr Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary, said, ‘ Schools are selling children short by using teaching assistants to teach classes when the regular teacher is unavailable. We are totally opposed to this exploitation of support staff who are being used as a cheap option to teachers. It is grossly unfair on them and on the children and their parents who rightly expect their children to be taught by qualified teachers.’

In June, newspaper reports suggested that cuts to the Department for Education’s budget could lead to a loss of some of the country’s 232,000 classroom assistants in an attempt to save £4 billion a year.

However, during the Spending Review later that month, Chancellor George Osborne confirmed that the schools budget would remain protected.


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