More than 30 academies ask permission to employ unqualified teachers

More than 30 academies have been given approval to employ unqualified teachers, despite opening before restrictions were lifted.

Free schools and academies have been able to employ teachers without academic or professional qualifications since 2012.

However the 2,320 academies that opened before 2012 have funding agreements requiring them to employ only those with qualified teacher status (QTS) – similar to schools maintained by the local authority.

Schools Week has learnt 34 of those academies have been granted permission to amend their agreements so they can take on unqualified teachers. Every application received has been approved by education secretary Nicky Morgan.

Rob McDonough, headteacher of West Bridgford school, Nottinghamshire, said his school applied to lift the restriction two years ago so it could become a teacher training provider.

As part of that, some trainees worked at the school a year before their course, which sometimes included one hour a week teaching year 7s.

He said students normally had degrees in their chosen subjects and were given full support in the classroom.

Park View, which was at the centre of the Trojan Horse investigations, also applied to have the restriction lifted. It has since been renamed Rockwood Academy and taken over by the Core Education Trust.

The University of Chester Academies Trust – which sponsors nine schools – is also included. The trust was branded the worst performing academy chain in Department for Education (DfE) research published earlier this year.

The trust told Schools Week it had updated its funding agreement “in line with DfE recommendations”.

Other schools contacted by Schools Week did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr McDonough added: “There are lots of talented people out there who can ensure fantastic teaching for children in our schools. When you tap into their expertise it can be a real benefit.

“The schools that have applied [probably] wanted the flexibility to use it appropriately for the benefits of the kids.”

The figures were revealed following a parliamentary question from Tulip Siddiq, Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn.

Figures released in June show the number of unqualified teachers in classrooms has increased more than 20 per cent.

Proportionally, 5.8 per cent of teachers working in academies are unqualified compared with 3.7 per cent in local authority maintained schools.

A DfE spokesperson said: “We trust headteachers to make decisions about the right teaching staff for their schools. That’s why we have made it easier for state-funded schools, including academies, to employ teachers who have a broader range of qualifications, experience and skills.”