Leeds academy tries to distance itself from “unqualified teacher” ad

Janet Downs's picture
“The advert should have made clear that this post was for the appointment of trainees to support the teaching of Mathematics with the potential opportunity to then progress as a trainee teacher. This was not made clear in the advert.”

South Leeds Academy press release 22 November 2013

The advertisement for unqualified maths teachers (discussed here) and links to a recruitment pack are no longer available on the website of School Partnership Trust Academies, the academy’s sponsor.

However, “Unqualfied Teachers” was at the head of the advert (still available on this recruiting site) and the recruitment pack made it clear successful candidates should “effectively teach National and Academy Curricula”, “Mark work, assess, record and report student progress” and “provide a stimulating learning environment”.

The press release also says:

“The Academy is fully committed to teaching as a Graduate profession and we are actively involved in the School Direct Teacher Training Programme.”

But recruitment information says SPTA would be willing to hear from candidates who don’t have a maths degree but do have A levels in Maths or equivalent for its School Direct places in 2013/14.

Schools Direct is a teacher-training programme for “high-quality graduates”.  Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln (BGU), one of SPTA’s partners, makes it clear Schools Direct is only available to graduates although the College, which has been involved in teacher training for decades, also offers undergraduate routes into teaching.  BGU is as accredited partner for just over 100 School Direct places – entrants for these must hold a first degree (or equivalent) from a UK higher education institution.

A levels do not constitute a first degree.  4 GCSEs A*-C including Maths and English do not constitute a first degree.

It could be SPTA is recruiting maths teachers with a degree in other subjects as long as they’ve got A level maths.  If so, it should make it clear.  The impression given in its information is that a degree isn’t necessary.

The press release admits Ofsted* judged South Leeds Academy to have “serious weaknesses”.  Ofsted made a monitoring visit in October which discovered 29 members of staff, teachers and teaching assistants, have since left the academy.  These included two members of the senior leadership team.  Ofsted* found the academy’s action plan was fit for purpose but the action plan of the academy’s sponsor, SPTA, and its Board of Trustees was not.

It’s unclear how any school coping with a negative Ofsted assessment and a sudden loss of staff including two from the top can also cope with training teachers.

The Guardian reported Boris Johnson had downplayed the issue.  He told a City Hall conference, "Most of my teachers didn't have qualifications at all. Some had been in Japanese prisoner of war camps, that was only thing they had."

It appears, then, London’s Mayor not only supports the use of untrained teachers but would be quite happy for teachers to have no degrees or any other qualifications.

Parents should be seriously concerned.  Enthusiastic amateurs, whether ex-POWs or not, should not be educating children.  And “trainees” with only 4 GCSEs A*-C including maths and English should not be considered adequately qualified to enter teacher training.

*Citing Ofsted judgements does not imply agreement.
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