Teachers rebel against use of unqualified staff

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The Independent Online

Relations between the National Union of Teachers and the Government worsened yesterday as teachers agreed to boycott a plan to use unqualified staff to cover for absences.

Teachers at Radclyffe School, in Oldham, were enraged by the headtecher Hardial Hayer's decision this term to appoint four "learning managers" who would cover for absent teachers for up to two weeks even though they are not qualified teachers.

The school's 60 NUT members will refuse to do any of the things they usually do for supply teachers such as lesson planning, preparation or marking to support the learning managers, the NUT said. It added that industrial action could follow any attempt to discipline NUT members for their stance against unqualified staff taking classes.

Mr Hayer argued that the new staff were a vital part of the school's strategy. "Learning managers ... will be successful and raise standards because they are trained, they know our students and are familiar with our system. They are also here every day to follow up any issues. All this is not true of the supply teachers we receive from agencies to cover for short term absences."

Doug McAvoy, the NUT's general secretary, met union members and the headteacher at the school yesterday to discuss the issue. After the meeting, Mr McAvoy said: "Parents at the school cannot be happy to know that their children's education is in the hands of people who are not qualified teachers.

"The NUT has no problem with learning managers on a personal level. Indeed, we welcome their appointment to carry out the rest of their roles in the school. But the union cannot countenance children's education being put at risk by being placed in the hands of those who have no qualifications to teach."