The Department for Education (DfE) has announced that all new Academy schools will no longer be required to employ teachers with qualified teacher status (QTS).
Head teachers of independent schools and Free Schools are already able to hire teaching staff who they believe to be suitably qualified.
A DfE spokesman said, “Independent schools and Free Schools can already hire brilliant people who have not got QTS. We are extending this flexibility to all Academies so more schools can hire great linguists, computer scientists, engineers and other specialists who have not worked in state schools before. We expect the vast majority of teachers will continue to have QTS.”
The DfE claims that this policy change will, “free up academies to employ professionals – like scientists, engineers, musicians, university professors, and experienced teachers and heads from overseas and the independent sector – who may be extremely well-qualified and are excellent teachers, but do not have QTS status.”
Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), has reacted strongly to the policy change, "This is a perverse decision by the Department for Education and a clear dereliction of duty," she said. "The NUT believes all children deserve to be taught by qualified teachers. Parents and teachers will see this as a cost-cutting measure that will cause irreparable damage to children's education."
While the teaching unions have spoken out in criticism of the move, two untrained head teachers of independent schools have come out in support of the policy change. Richard Cairns, Head master of Brighton College, said, “I strongly believe that teachers are born not made and I will actively seek out teachers from all walks of life who have the potential to inspire children. At Brighton College, this year’s Sunday Times Independent School of the Year, we have 39 teachers without formal teaching qualifications, including me!”
Katy Ricks, Head teacher of Sevenoaks School, said, “As an untrained teacher myself, my own experience and those of my colleagues around me demonstrates clearly that good classroom practice, of course essential to being an outstanding teacher, can be learned on the job as long as there is a supportive framework within the school.”
All schools will continue to be held accountable for the quality of teaching through Ofsted inspection and the publication of school performance data.
SEN Coordinators and designated teachers for looked after children will still be required to have QTS. All teachers in special academies will also still need this qualification.