Actors are being offered as little as £77 a day to work as teaching assistants in London schools.
One recruitment agency advert said actors could “build a strong rapport” within classrooms while another pointed to opportunities to support a school’s drama department.
Experience working with children was a “bonus” as was confidence and “a positive can-do attitude”.
It comes amid widespread reports of teaching assistants leaving classrooms to get better paid jobs, such as in retail and hospitality.
Rachel Harrison, a national secretary at the support staff union GMB, said it “would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic”.
“Underfunded schools won’t pay lower level teaching assistants more – so they go after unemployed actors to plug the gaps.
“Teaching assistants do a difficult, skilful, caring job. It’s not something you can just pick up in between acting gigs and it’s a job that should be paid properly.”
Mike Short, head of education at Unison, which also represents support staff, said “sparse funding” forced schools to “rely heavily on supply workers”.
“This might be a good quick fix but is hugely expensive.
“Pupils benefit most when staff come from the widest variety of backgrounds and have the broadest range of work experience. But if wages aren’t high enough, schools will keep losing staff to employers able to offer more.”
‘Positive role models’
Under a title of “Actors wanted for roles in education”, Teaching Personnel said it was recruiting “experienced actors” to work as TAs in Wandsworth, south London, for for £77 to £90 a day.
“We have a variety of supply and long-term positions to suit your needs and schedule! Permanent opportunities are also available!
“After you are settled into your role as a teaching assistant, there could also be opportunities to support in the drama department.”
Applicants needed to be a “positive role model to inspire and encourage the child to make positive life choices and behaviours”.
The company offered a range of training opportunities and said it would undertake safeguarding checks.
According to LinkedIn, 14 applications were submitted in two days. The company did not respond to requests for comment.
Actors can ‘enthuse’ classrooms
In a separate job advert, Academics Ltd said it was looking “for those with a background in a creative industry to work within the education sector” in London for between £80 and £100 a day. This could include performing arts students.
It said it worked with “actors, actresses and drama graduates and find they are able to enthuse, motivate and build a strong rapport within the classroom setting”.
The recruit would have the opportunity to work with children aged 4 to 18 and “be providing general/special needs” TA help.
They should be “confident” and have a “a positive attitude and a real eagerness to contribute to the education of those within a school environment”.
It adds: “Experience working with children in some capacity is a bonus; this can be in the form of workshops with young people, direct school experience or other means.”
But it went on to say the “minimum level of experience is working with young people within some capacity”.
The company declined to comment.
A report by the National Foundation for Educational Research last month said ministers should widen the scope of their recruitment and retention strategy for support staff.
Researchers found that more than seven in 10 senior leaders reported TAs leaving their school because they could earn more elsewhere, such as in retail and hospitality. Last year, TA starting salaries were just over £20,000.
Nearly half of secondary school leaders reported low salaries were the single biggest barrier to recruiting TAs.
The demand for staff is also impacting teaching recruits.
A Schools Week investigation in June found hundreds of recruitment agency adverts for unqualified teachers to run classrooms.