Free schools have triple the number of unqualified teachers in their classrooms compared to local authority-maintained schools.
A total of 15.4 per cent of teachers in free schools are unqualified, compared to 4.5 per cent in the maintained sector and 5.8 per cent in academies.
The overall numbers of unqualified teachers is on the rise, from 3.7 per cent in 2013 to 4.5 per cent last year, Workforce Census figures show.
The statistics also reveal the number of teacher vacancies is on the rise and school leaders have had a bigger pay rise than classroom teachers.
Dr Meenakshi Parameshwaran, a researcher for LKMco and Education Datalab, writing for Schools Week today, said the figures show recruiting a top quality workforce is still a major challenge for school leaders.
She said: “The rise in unqualified teachers could be part of the reason the average classroom teacher salary (£34,300) went down by £100 in 2013.”
However over the same time, the average salary of leadership groups (£56,500) increased by more than £500.
Dr Parameshwaran added: “This seems pretty unfair – why aren’t classroom teachers getting pay rises at the same rate as school leaders?
“The pay gap between classroom teachers and leaders is greater in academies than in maintained schools.
“This reflects the general salary gap between the sectors, with primary teachers in academies earning, on average, £1,500 less per year than their colleagues in the maintained sector (the secondary gap is an annual £1,200 in favour of the maintained sector).”
But she said the biggest concern was the number of teacher vacancies.
There were 1,030 vacant posts in November 2014, compared with 750 in November 2013, “so even though there are more teachers, there are relatively more unfilled posts”.
A further 3,210 full-time posts (0.9 per cent) were being temporarily filled by a teacher on a contract of at least one term but less than one year, almost 1,000 more than in 2013.
“Finding appropriately qualified staff is more difficult in secondary schools, with fewer English, maths and science teachers holding relevant post A-level qualifications for the subjects they teach.
“This has led to fewer lessons in these core subjects taught by teachers with relevant qualifications.”
She added: “Taken together, the latest statistics show recruiting and retaining a top quality workforce is still a major challenge for many school leaders.”
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