Teacher Talk

Judy Moorhouse is an English teacher on supply at Richmond Comprehensive School in North Yorkshire, and is chair of education and equal opportunities at the National Union of Teachers. She will take on the role of Junior Vice-President of the NUT at Easter
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The Independent Online

What education issue is exercising you at the moment?

What education issue is exercising you at the moment?

I feel that unqualified teachers taking classes are ruining education. There is a definite need for support staff but it is a worry for all parents if unqualified people are teaching their children. Learning managers can come into a school for ten days and teach classes if no one else is available. Section 10 of the latest bill stipulates that anyone can teach.

Have you, personally, seen unqualified staff taking classes and how widespread do you think the problem is?

I haven't experienced it here or in other schools but it undoubtedly happens. There has recently been a parliamentary question on unqualified teachers taking classes and this has revealed startling statistics. The problem is most noticeable in big urban centres such as London and Birmingham. Funding issues are forcing schools to ask themselves whether they need to employ teachers to do jobs that support staff could do. I feel that the problem has only just started and is going to spread.

What are the hot issues in equal opportunities at the moment?

The gender issue is very important; we need to get more women into senior positions in education. Access for disabled teachers and pupils is vital too yet new schools are still being built which are not complying with regulations. Most important is the race issue; there is a real lack of black and ethnic minority teachers, especially in senior positions and we need to raise awareness of this problem and do something about it. The Race Relations Amendment Act has been brilliant but it needs to go a whole lot further in training and funding; you can't just pluck something out of thin air. This problem is greatest in rural areas where there are fewer numbers of black, minority and ethnic teachers available.

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