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Schools could be breaking the law by using teaching assistants, says NUT and others.

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by pedigree, Jul 20, 2010.

  1. BBC news 3/072010
    could be breaking the law by asking support staff to teach lessons when
    qualified teachers are absent, the National Union of Teachers has

    Since September, teachers in England and Wales have only been expected to cover for colleagues on "rare" occasions.

    But some schools are using classroom assistants to fill in, rather than more costly supply teachers, the union says.

    Ministers say that if support staff deliver occasional lessons, they should be under a teacher's overall direction.

    Assistants are allowed to supervise classes if they have the right level of qualifications.

    But the NUT says they should not actively teach and, if they do so routinely, then schools could be breaking the law.

    the regulations say is you can only do specified work, which is
    teaching, if you're under the supervision of a qualified teacher. What
    you can't do is take over on your own, plan lessons, run classes etc,"
    said John Bangs, head of education at the NUT.

    'Cheaper option'
    said the employment of supply teachers - qualified teachers employed to
    cover absent staff - had "gone through the floor" because "they [were]
    being replaced by cheaper cover supervisors and support staff".

    Continue reading the main story

    End Quote
    Margaret Morrissey
    Campaign group Parents Outloud

    faced a "real temptation to employ cheaper, unqualified staff" in the
    current climate, but evidence showed putting support staff in
    inappropriate roles led to a drop in standards, he said.

    Brookes, who leads the head teachers' union NAHT, said their policy was
    to make sure the "appropriate person" was in front of the classroom.

    that's a teacher, but there are circumstances where somebody else would
    be perfectly fit and competent to be in front of a group of people, for
    instance a sports teacher, someone teaching music or a languages
    specialist," he said.

    He said there were cases where teaching assistants could manage a class well.

    teachers felt confident their assistants could supervise the class
    because they knew the children and subject work, whereas they would not
    know the qualities of any supply teacher they might be given, he said.

    The NUT's John Bangs: "This is not anti-support staff"

    "My fear is that teaching
    assistants... will be first in line [for job cuts] and that will mean -
    as most of them provide support for children with special educational
    needs - a deterioration of that support."

    Christina McAnea, head of education at Unison, said she was "very concerned" some teaching assistants might be being stretched.

    "Most of our members are actually being paid incredibly low rates of pay, most of them haven't got sufficient qualifications.

    of the workforce agreement says that to do specified work, to actually
    be actively teaching, should be someone who is HLTA - higher level
    teaching assistant level - only about 25% of the people we surveyed
    actually had that qualification," she said.

    Morrissey, from the campaign group Parents Outloud, said teaching
    assistants were "probably the best thing to have happened to schools in
    the last decade" but there was reason to be "cautious".

    "The occasional emergency teaching or class supervision by a teaching assistant is going to harm no children.

    "But they don't have a teaching degree... they are not there to teach, they are there to assist.

    "So governors have got to be very clear they ensure there is money and provision for a supply teacher to come in," she said.
  2. So why did not the NUT with its massive legal dept do ANYTHING?
  3. "Some schools could be breaking the law by asking support staff to teach lessons when qualified teachers are absent, the National Union of Teachers has claimed."
    What has not been mentioned anywhere in this post has been PPA time. This is not teacher absence since the official definition of teacher absence says that it occurs when the teacher timetabled to teach the lesson is not present for any reason. Since teachers are not timetabled to teach for 10% of their time they cannot be absent.
    Similarly they cannot be covered in that time since the definition of cover says that it occurs when the teacher timetabled to teach a lesson is absent for any reason.
    Also regulations state that any class or group timetabled for core and foundation subjects and for RE must be assigned a qualified teacher to teach them. So during timetabled PPA times there should be a teacher in place to teach the classes.
    But this is not happening. During such times unqualified teachers and support staff are being timetabled to teach those classes whose assigned teacher is on their timetabled PPA time. Does this mean that support staff are being used as substitutes for teachers during such times or that support staff and teachers are interchangeable? In either case the Department for Education is on record as saying that this is not acceptable.
    A recent survey of primary schools has shown that for every qualified teacher taking PPA lessons there are about three unqualified teachers or support staff taking such lessons.
    Trade union leaders and politicians have been informed about this in the past but they have not been prepared to do anything to correct this situation.
    As for the excuse about budgetary restrictions can anyone explain why this whole issue of support staff teaching was being planned a decade ago long before the recession became an issue.
  4. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    Why has the NUT only suddenly decided on this statement?...for years supply teachers have been moaning about the problem of cover supply...now suddenly they have a political case to make....yeah yeah yeah...nothing will happen in the end as grove is not interested in teachers or schools....its results that count...same with last goverment before it.....education is but a political football!
  5. Employment law is not regulated or enforced, because it does not suit successive governments to do so. Remember politicians justifying their claims for floating duck houses, pornographic TV channels, etc? Well, that is all perfectly legal, because the politicians made the law to suit themselves.

    I would like Mr Cameron, Mr Osborne and Mr Gove to do my job for one day and then to tell me that I do not deserve to be supported, at least, by the employment law.
  6. So what law is anybody breaking. Common Law? hardly so.
    Employment Law ? Contractual stuff,
    Guidelines about who does the teaching thing?
    With words like headteachers 'discretion'.
    Unless a precedent is set where a headteacher is found to be overplaying the 'discretion', and receive a letter saying 'cause of concern', which will not look good in their portfolios.
    Then headteachers will overplay the game plan. As they know it is unlikely that anyone with influence is looking, other than the odd supply teacher!
    It is interesting that in all of the schools in the UK we are led to believe that all is ok. Which it may be. However the odd head must have overplayed it. But we do not hear of anytlhing. Is anybody looking . . . . . . ?
    Must be a supply teacher thing.
    However I find it beyond belief that no head within all the great schools in the UK has not overplayed it. SO it must be ok

  7. One big dustbin "profession", rife with denial, dimwittedness, doubletalk, hypocrisy and utter stupidity. Those teachers on "permanent" contracts could'nt give a hoot!

  8. A recent survey of primary schools has shown that for every qualified teacher taking PPA lessons there are about three unqualified teachers or support staff taking such lessons.
    I feel support staff cope better than any supply teacher because they have knowledge of the children and the school rules.
  9. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    Cannot speak for Primary but in Secondary this need not be the case.
    I accept that some support staff are very competent and maybe better then some supply teachers but any supply teachers? come on, stop making sweeping comments.
    Schools who know how to manage supply and cover will either have their own pool of supply teachers or request specific teachers they know and like from an agency. These teachers will get to know the children and school rules as well (almost) as the regular members of staff.
    In Secondary (and I don't doubt in Primary too) teachers will, hopefully, also have better subject knowledge. Although I remember one Science department I worked where a TA held an M.Sc and the technician had a PhD.
  10. Here we go again...ho hum! But the support staff "know" the children?????!! Blah, blah, blah...
    Have you seen an unqualified cover "teacher" namely an arrogant CS bluff their way in "teaching" a KS3/KS4 Maths and Science lesson before the supply teacher arrived and simply had to take over?The support staff present could not cope!They did not "know" the subject and were simply not equipped! NOT good enough!

    Unbelievable, pathetic and utterly abusive of the rights of the pupils who wanted clear, knowledgeable explanations to questions.
  11. historygrump

    historygrump Star commenter Forum guide

    I suspect Charlotte is a TA, and may be a good TA, based on her comments, I fully support TA's and most TA's are good at the their jobs, but they are not teachers, some actually pretend to be teachers to the kids or to the parents and to people who don't know better and actually themselves that they are teachers. For example, I was talking to somebody the other day and they said their partner was a TA and within 12-months she would be a teacher, by working as a TA, I could not figure it out, unless they think being an HLTA is being a teacher?
    But what we need proper and clear guidelines, it is alright to say specified work under the supervision of the teacher, but that means the teacher as to be in the classroom with the TA or HLTA. When I pointed out to the TDA, that HT's were ignoring these rules and using support staff to cover long periods and in somes permanent lessons, I was being offensive for telling the truth. Even the Dept of Education said to me, schools would not break the rules, and the support staff should not replace teachers, but then said the same old line, HT can use a person they feel is able to cover lessons, i.e cheap and available.
    The HT association are a joke, talk about misleading the public, they are only used occassionally when the teacher may be worried about the standard of the supply teacher and they crucially know the kids. If a hospital porter knows the patients, does that mean that he can carry out operations, when the surgeon is absent? What is a problem for many supply teachers in primary schools are the (wannabee teachers) HLTA's or TA's who set out to undermine the teacher by any means possible,i.e. talking over the supply teacher, contradicting the teacher, refusing to provide information requested like school times or any child with issues of concern or where are the resources kept or spreading false rumours about how bad you are, because they think they should be teaching the class. I accept that there may be good TA's and even good CS, But I have, like many teachers who have worked in both primary and secondary have in the past took over lessons from CS or TA's, who despite knowing the kids could not control them and it only took me or any other qualified teacher minutes to settle the classroom down.
    Thankfully the number of these misguided TA's are small and most TA's are helpful and supportive to the supply teacher. But the truth is many HT's are only interested in saving money and not the kids, because how can anyone without in many cases even the basic qualifcations be able to teach. Moreover is the use of TA's or CS to cover lessons to cover lesson because they know the kids, they why do schools ask for supply cover CS, instead of teachers? It is the same old lie and it is not about education, but about money.
    The NUT, the ATL and the NASUWT should actually make a stand on this issue, because as Unison points out that TA's and to be honest HLTA's, who are only glorified TA's at best, are not trained to do the job of teachers. It is up to us to demand that they put their words into actual action, instead of saying something and they doing now't.
    I will be adding the comments from the unions and parents out loud to my letter for Wednesday post to the shadow S of S for education.
  12. Pennyforyourthoughts

    Pennyforyourthoughts Occasional commenter

    YES they do have knowledge of the children and the school rules.............. but does that mean they can teach and take responsibility for the whole class.... Usually their responsibilities and expertise is that one to one contact with the child they are responsible for, expanding on that for a whole class is challenging. ALSO WHO SUPPORT THE TA with the children that she should be giving a one to one with? Does another TA come into the class to take HER place?
  13. emmadrg

    emmadrg New commenter

    In my experience, no-one takes the place of the TA who has been used to teach. The students who need support don't get it, then the teacher gets questions at the end of the year about why they haven't made as much progress.
    (this is speaking from personal experience. I was teaching a class with two statemented children for almost a term with NO TA support at all. One was generally OK and tried his best, as the girl sat next to him tried to help him, bless her. The other got wound up and shouted out and disrupted the lesson, very little attempt at the work. Because of course I can teach and manage 25 other students AND have time to help the statemented ones. Why didn't I just clone myself)
  14. I remember applying for a labtech post when I was going through the despair-need-job patch. I was probably better qualified and more able than some of the teaching staff in the dept, however they ended up employing someone with no quals. If I was to go through the "beneath my qualifications" post, I'd omit them from the application form. Spazz role = spazz qualifications.
  15. Schools will want to know where you were during those years you were at Uni, so leaving those qualifications off the application raises questions.

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