One in five lessons taken by teachers untrained in subject

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Almost one in five of all lessons in secondary schools are delivered by staff not trained in the subject, a Government study said yesterday.

Almost one in five of all lessons in secondary schools are delivered by staff not trained in the subject, a Government study said yesterday.

It showed that since just before Labour came into power, there has been a major rise in the percentage of lessons delivered in the core areas of English, maths, science and modern languages by teachers without a specific qualification in the subject.

The report should have been published in 2000 and the delay led to accusations it had been "buried" by ministers. It showed the percentage of maths lessons taught by staff with no teaching qualification in the subject had risen from nine per cent to 13 per cent since 1996.

In physics, it had gone from 1 per cent to 7 per cent, chemistry 3 per cent to 9 and French, from 10 per cent to 15. In English, it had risen from 10 to 11 per cent.

The report also went on to show schools were facing a timebomb, with more than one in three staff in many of these subject areas now aged over 50. In chemistry, the figure was 35 per cent and maths 31 per cent. No secondary school subject had an increase in the percentage of teachers aged 30 to 39.

Professor John Howson, of Oxford Brookes University, said: "They are burying the bad news by bringing it out on the last day of the Hutton Inquiry. It's a dismal and damning track record and another confidence trick on parents."

As revealed in Monday's Independent, it means tens of thousands of pupils are being taught by teachers not trained in the subject they are taking.

Margaret Morrissey, spokeswoman for the National Confederation for Parent Teachers Associations, added: "Parents are disturbed. Lack of subject knowledge can make lessons boring, switching pupils off; demotivation means pupils will not be attaining in vital subject areas. Children get only one chance to get the most out of their school education."

The figures also show 45 per cent of secondary school teachers have been asked to take a lesson for which they are not qualified, and that, overall, 18 per cent of lessons are delivered by staff not qualified. These last figures, based on returns from 200-odd secondary schools, are the same as in a similar survey seven years ago. But a major drop in the number of untrained staff delivering lessons in design and technology - down from 31 per cent to 14per cent - masks that the numbers in the core subjects are rising in the overall picture. The figures relate to November 2002.

Ministers pointed out the figures showed an overall increase in the percentage of full-time teachers with a degree, up 12 per cent now that many of those hired in the days before the profession became all-graduate entry have retired. There had also been an 8 per cent increase in the number of lessons taught by a teacher with a degree in the subject.

Charles Clarke, the Secretary of State for Education, blamed a 1992-98 recruitment slump for the rise in untrained staff taking maths lessons. Figures this year showed a 35 per cent rise in recruits to maths teacher training courses. "These results are promising, considering there are 25,000 more teachers since 1997, almost 18,000 of whom are in secondary schools," he said.