Got 4 GCSEs A*-C including Maths and English? Then apply for a teaching job in a Leeds academy.

Janet Downs's picture
The South Leeds Academy is recruiting temporary maths teachers.  But candidates don’t have to have qualified teaching status – they don’t even need a degree.

No – the minimum qualifications are 4 GCSEs A*-C (or equivalent) including Maths and English.

In June 2013, Ofsted* judged South Leeds Academy to be Inadequate.  In September, Schools Minister, Lord Nash, sent a pre-warning letter to the School Partnership Trust Academies (SPTA) which runs the school.

Ofsted* had said teaching was improving and “satisfactory”.  There were “pockets of good practice” when teachers used highly skilled questioning techniques to check learning, “challenge thinking” and “unpick misconceptions”. 

It appears that SPTA thinks 4 GCSEs A*-C  (or equivalent) including Maths and English is sufficient to become an effective teacher and demonstrate "pockets of good practice".  But such techniques don’t come naturally – they are studied and practised during training.

Academies, of course, are free to employ unqualified staff to act as teachers.  But parents have been led to believe these would be inspirational, exceptional, dynamic holders of top-class degrees.  Such paragons don’t need qualified teaching status to enthuse pupils, Education Secretary Michael Gove says.  And he trusts heads to employ the staff they believe will do the best job.

But 4 GCSEs A*-C (or equivalent) including Maths and English won’t do.  That’s not even sufficient to go on the sixth-form academic study.  

And it’s nowhere near a high enough standard to teach.

In Finland, teachers are expected to have two degrees: one in subject knowledge and one in teaching methodology.  They are expected to have the skills to teach a wide range of pupils.

Yet in England, academies and free schools can employ whoever they think is competent.  Staff employed to teach don’t have to be qualified.  And it appears they don’t even have to have degrees.

Teaching is ranked as a Level Four occupation by the Office of National Statistics.  Level Four employment is usually open only to those who have degrees or equivalent.

But in Leeds, you can be employed as a teacher with just 4 GCSEs A*-C (or equivalent) including Maths and English.

This is not acceptable.


*Citing Ofsted judgements does not imply agreement.
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