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Union attacks cheap' labour in classrooms

PUBLISHED: 15:39 12 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:32 23 August 2010

UNQUALIFIED teaching assistants are doing the job of fully-trained teachers, according to a leading union member. Brian Chadwick, the General Secretary of Gravesham Teachers Association (GTA), said teaching assistants (TAs) were being used because they

UNQUALIFIED teaching assistants are doing the job of fully-trained teachers, according to a leading union member.

Brian Chadwick, the General Secretary of Gravesham Teachers' Association (GTA), said teaching assistants (TAs) were being used because they are cheaper to employ.

He advised parents to take up the issue with their children's schools and called for government funding to pay for more qualified supply teachers.

Mr Chadwick said: "The Government decided that teachers must dedicate 10 per cent of their work day to preparing lessons, and teaching assistants are being drafted in to cover the lessons, instead of fully-trained supply teachers.

"The pupils are not stupid, they know who's an assistant and who's not and they take advantage and become disruptive.

"It's nonsense. You would not expect to be seen by an untrained doctor and neither should untrained assistants take classes."

Former teacher Mr Chadwick said that the GTA, which belongs to the National Union of Teachers (NUT), first discussed the problem at a meeting last November.

Teachers with qualified teacher status spend about four years studying for a degree and then study for further qualifications in education.

He added: "Now it's time to take action. It is down to the parents to step up and say something - if they don't like what's happening. They need to say so at governor or parents' meetings."

"Headteachers will reasonably argue that they cannot afford to pay for supply teachers, but children have only one chance and parents should therefore not be prepared to accept a cost cutting exercise with the potential to prejudice their children's success at school."

Mark Dance, Kent County Council's cabinet member for education, said: "The national Social Partnership (SP) has been developing school work force reform during the past five to six years.

"Part of this reform has included allowing unqualified people, including teaching assistants, to carry out duties under the supervision of a qualified teacher. The NUT is committed to ensuring that only qualified teachers teach.

"We have excellent examples of schools in Kent where unqualified staff are involved in teaching, leaving qualified teachers to focus on improving the learning experience for pupils, rather than carry out routine teaching duties on simple parts of the curriculum."

elizabeth.thornton@archant.co.uk

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