Schools have been accused of teaching on the cheap by using unqualified staff to take lessons.
Teaching assistants as well as cover supervisors are being drafted in to take classes ahead of qualified teachers, according to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.
The union claimed that many support staff are being asked to provide cover for absent teachers, with some asked to take lessons for three days or longer. It questioned more than 1,435 support staff of which a quarter (25.4 per cent) of the teaching assistants and almost half (49 per cent) of higher level teaching assistants, said they are asked to cover lessons. Around 96 per cent of cover supervisors said the same.
Of all of those surveyed, 40 per cent said they had been asked to provide more or the same amount of cover for absent teachers in 2012/13 than the year before.