Tory vice-chairman hits out at Michael Gove's decision to allow unqualified teachers into the classroom

 

Education Editor

A senior Conservative has raised fears that Education Secretary Michael Gove’s decision to allow unqualified teachers in the classroom could be used by schools to “hire on the cheap”.

Richard Harrington, who is vice-chairman of the Conservative Party and MP for Watford, said the concern had been raised with him by teachers in his constituency and added they “have a valid point”.

The move has caused a bitter political row with Labour - backed by teachers’ leaders - who believe that all teachers should be qualified, with Mr Gove insisting allowing unqualified staff would allow schools to recruit “brilliant” linguists, actors, scientists and engineers who are unqualified.

Mr Harrington’s comments emerged on the day that thousands of schools throughout England and Wales were either closed or partially shut as a result of a one-day strike by the National Union of Teachers protesting at government policy.

In a letter to Mr Gove published by the Times Educational Supplement, Mr Harrington acknowledged there could be cases of “outstanding” unqualified individuals being the best person for the job.

However, he added that the teachers' argument “did worry me”, saying: “Their argument is that instead of this being used as a tool to bring in experienced individuals in certain areas for the benefit of education, that it will be used as a tool to effectively ‘hire on the cheap’ and fill classrooms with unqualified teachers not because they have valuable experience but because they are lower cost.

“I would hope that headteachers would not do this of course but I do think it is a valid point which should be given proper consideration.”

In a statement afterwards he said he had merely passed on his constituents’ concerns “as is my duty as their Member of Parliament”.

Placards lined-up before an NUT rally in Centenary Square, Birmingham (PA) Placards lined-up before an NUT rally in Centenary Square, Birmingham (PA)
Tristram Hunt, Labour’s Shadow Education spokesman, said: “Many parents will not know that David Cameron has changed the rules to allow schools to recruit unqualified teachers on a permanent basis.

“It’s staggering that [David] Cameron has watered down school standards in this way. Now even his own Tory party vice-chairman is speaking about this damaging ‘hire on the cheap’ teacher policy. Labour will put an end to this, ensuring every classroom has a qualified teacher.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "Independent schools and free schools can already hire brilliant people who do not have qualified teacher status.

“We have extended this flexibility to all academies so more schools can hire great linguists, computer scientists, engineers and other specialists who have not worked in state schools before.”

Meanwhile, around 10,000 schools were either shut or partially closed as a result of yesterday’s NUT strike over increasing on pension contributions, plans to introduce more performance related pay and increases in teachers’ workloads. The NUT has warned there could be further strike action in the summer if talks failed to resolve the dispute.

A teachers demonstration in Newcastle in support of the NUT walkout (PA) A teachers demonstration in Newcastle in support of the NUT walkout (PA)
A rift appeared to develop between the two biggest teachers’ unions as an internal memo signed by Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers - which did not take strike action yesterday - accused NUT activists of running “abusive social media campaigns” and making “aggressive accusations” about her union.

The memo said that NASUWT members should not cover the lessons of striking teachers but added: “We should not tolerate any threats, insults or attempts to intimidate our members of activists by the NUT”.

“Unfortunately, in some areas, this has been a hallmark of the activity to date,” it added.

The NUT denied any campaign against the NASUWT.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Imperial College London: Safety Training Administrator

£25,880 – £28,610 per annum: Imperial College London: Imperial College London ...

University College London: Client Platform Support Officer

£26,976 - £31,614 per annum: University College London: UCL Information Servic...

Guru Careers: Instructional Designer / e-Learning Designer

£30 - 32k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking an Instructional / e-Learning De...

Recruitment Genius: Schools Education & Careers Executive

£30500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Schools Education & Careers Executive ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat