NON-EXPERT SIRS ‘HOLD BACK KIDS
Shortages hit lesson delivery
THE schools recruitment crisis has led to a shortage of specialist teachers that risks holding pupils back and having “a real impact on their life chances”, Labour warns.
Government figures reveal a dramatic rise in the use of nonexpert teachers – those not qualified in a subject above A-level.
As many as one in four physics lessons and one in 10 maths lessons are now taught by such staff.
Schools are also struggling to recruit staff for creative subjects such as art, music and drama. And specialist design and technology teacher numbers have almost halved in the past decade.
Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson blamed the staffing crisis on workloads, teachers not feeling valued and the profession not attracting graduates.
She said: “Heads are really struggling to recruit specialist teachers. They’ll often tell me how they’ll advertise and sometimes don’t receive a single application.
“[These shortages are] holding back children and having a real impact on their life chances.
“Parents want their children to have a rounded education and be able to enjoy music, sport and art.
“Yet increasingly, in state schools, children are not being taught these subjects by specialists. That’s been routinely denied because of the Tory recruitment and retention crisis.”
Ms Phillipson added that the crisis makes a mockery of Rishi Sunak’s plan to teach all kids maths until 18.
She said: “It’s laughable for the PM to suggest we can expand that when we don’t have enough teachers. And it is incredibly important that young people get a strong foundation in basics like maths – but under the Conservatives, that isn’t happening.”
One head, who asked not to be named, said of graduates snubbing teaching: “All they hear is how hard it is and what a crap deal they get.” And he said classes are now often covered by teachers qualified in similar subjects – such as chemistry teachers taking physics lessons. “One of the favourites is PE teachers delivering Key Stage 3 biology,” he said. “It’s part of their degree, they do a lot of human biology.”
But the head said while non-experts can “blag” some subjects, others like modern languages are “not something you can just pick up” and must be scaled back or dropped.
Ms Phillipson said Labour would take cash raised by scrapping tax breaks for private schools and pump it into “raising the status and standing of teachers in our country”.
She added: “Under the Conservatives, we’ve seen a decline in the number of specialist teachers. And increasingly, teachers just don’t feel valued for the work they do.”
The Department for Education said it has introduced bursaries and scholarships “to attract talented trainees in subjects such as maths, physics, chemistry and computing”.
It added: “Since 2010 we’ve increased the number of teachers in state-funded schools by 24,000, now totalling more than 465,000.”
‘‘ This crisis is having a real impact on children’s life chances