Why would 32 academy trusts apply to employ unqualified teachers?
In July 2012, the previous Secretary of State for Education announced that all new academies converted on his watch would no longer need to employ teachers with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). This is already very well known and it’s been the subject of a vast amount of media coverage – election stories about adverts for unqualified teachers in Tory donors’ academies still ring in my mind.
It is less-well known that at the same time, the Education Secretary also gave all existing academies with QTS requirements in their funding arrangements the right to apply to him to have these requirements removed.
Astoundingly, before I chanced across this recently, nobody had thought to ask the Department for Education which academies had applied to do this, so information on these schools wasn’t publicly-available. A couple of Written Parliamentary Questions to the Secretary of State (see here and here) quickly put this right.
In all, 2320/5043 academies open in July 2015 – i.e. 46% of all academies – had funding arrangements to only employ teachers with QTS. The last Labour Government only built a couple of hundred academies so the vast bulk of these would have been created since May 2010.
Since July 2012, 32 academy trusts applied to have these funding arrangements removed, and you can find a list of which schools in one of the WPQ answers. Funnily enough, all of their applications were accepted by the Secretary of State. SchoolsWeek duly covered the story earlier today.
The table below gives a list of these schools broken down by parliamentary constituency. In some cases, the academy “trust” which applied runs more than one school, so the number of academies permitted to employ unqualified teachers is higher than the mere 32 referenced in the WPQ answer – in all, I count 37 academies in total. In other cases, although the school falls within a wider academy “trust”, the trust appears to have only asked the Secretary of State to waive the QTS requirements in one school under their control.
|Name||Primary / Secondary School?||Post Code||Constituency||MP|
|Seaton Academy||Primary||CA14 1NP||Workington||Sue Hayman MP (Lab)|
|Impington Village College||Secondary||CB24 9LX||South East Cambridgeshire||Lucy Frazer MP (Con)|
|Parkstone Grammar School [Parkstone Grammar School Trust]||Secondary||BH17 7EP||Poole||Robert Syms MP (Con)|
|Bartley Green School||Secondary||B32 3QJ||Birmingham Edgbaston||Gisela Stuart MP (Lab)|
|Knutsford Academy||Secondary||WA16 0EA||Tatton||George Osborne MP (Con)|
|Brampton Manor School Academy [Brampton Manor Trust]||Secondary||E6 3SQ||East Ham||Stephen Timms (Lab)|
|Astor College [Dover Federation for the Arts]||Secondary||CT17 0AS||Dover||Charlie Elphicke (Con)|
|Barton Junior School [Dover Federation for the Arts]||Primary||CT17 0AS||Dover||Charlie Elphicke (Con)|
|Shatterlocks Infant School [Dover Federation for the Arts]||Primary||CT16 2BP||Dover||Charlie Elphicke (Con)|
|White Cliffs Primary College [Dover Federation for the Arts]||Primary||CT17 0LB||Dover||Charlie Elphicke (Con)|
|Bluecoat Academy [Bluecoat Academies Trust]||Primary and Secondary||NG8 5GY||Nottingham South||Lilian Greenwood (Lab)|
|The Milford Academy||Primary||NG11 9BT||Nottingham South||Lilian Greenwood (Lab)|
|John Cleveland College||Secondary||LE10 1LE||Bosworth||David Tredinnick (Con)|
|The West Bridgford School [East Midlands Educational Trust]||Secondary||NG2 7FA||Rushcliffe||Ken Clarke (Con)|
|Springwood High School [West Norfolk Academies Trust]||Primary and Secondary||PE30 4AW||North West Norfolk||Henry Bellingham (Con)|
|St Christophers [sic!] Academy Dunstable||Primary||LU6 1LE||South West Bedfordshire||Andrew Selous MP (Con)|
|Haybridge High School and Sixth Form||Secondary||DY8 2XS||Bromsgrove||Sajid Javid (Con)|
|King Edward VI School||Secondary||IP33 3BH||Bury St Edmunds||Jo Churchill (Con)|
|Biggleswade Academy [Biggleswade Academy Trust]||Pre-School and Primary||SG18 8JU||North East Bedfordshire||Alistair Burt (Con)|
|Tring School||Secondary||HP23 5JD||South West Hertfordshire||David Gauke (Con)|
|Chadwell Heath Academy||Secondary||RM6 4RS||South Ilford||Mike Gapes (Lab)|
|Ringmer Community College||Secondary||BN8 5RB||Lewes||Maria Caulfield (Con)|
|Denefield Academy||Primary and Secondary||RG31 6XY||Reading West||Alok Sharma (Con)|
|Wilson's School||Secondary||SM6 9JW||Carshalton and Wallington||Tom Brake (Lib Dem)|
|Prospect School||Secondary||RG30 4EX||Reading West||Alok Sharma (Con)|
|Henrietta Barnett School||Secondary||NW11 7BN||Finchley and Golders Green||Mike Freer (Con)|
|Thamesmead School||Secondary||TW17 9EE||Spelthorne||Kwasi Kwarteng (Con)|
|Eden Park Academy||Secondary||LS11 7EN||Leeds Central||Hilary Benn (Lab)|
|Kirk Hallam Community Academy||Secondary||DE7 4HH||Erewash||Maggie Throup (Con)|
|Rockwood Academy (formerly Park View) [Park View Educational Trust]||Secondary||B8 3HG||Birmingham Hodge Hill||Liam Byrne (Lab)|
|Golden Hillock [Park View Educational Trust]||Secondary||B11 2QG||Birmingham Yardley||Jess Phillips (Lab)|
|Nansen Primary School [Park View Educational Trust]||Primary||B8 3HG||Birmingham Hodge Hill||Liam Byrne (Lab)|
|Alcester Grammar School||Secondary||B49 5ED||Stratford-on-Avon||Nadhim Zahawi (Con)|
|Aylesbury Vale Academy [Legra Academy Trust]||Secondary||HP18 0WS||Aylesbury||David Lidington (Con)|
|Huish Episcopi Academy||Secondary||TA10 9SS||Somerton and Frome||David Warburton (Con)|
|Holy Trinity Church of England Primary Academy||Primary||SN10 5TL||Devzies||Claire Perry (Con)|
All this inevitably raises questions about what drove these academies to make this decision. The three academies in the Park View Educational Trust are conspicuous: they were the ones at the heart of the “Trojan Horse” scandal about extremist influence back in May 2014. There are also clearly worries about local accountability here: these academies likely made these decisions without any local consultation and I imagine neither parents using these schools nor their local political representatives know this has happened. Ironically, for all Gove’s idealist talk, it’s much harder to hold academies to account on this locally than it was with Local Authority-controlled maintained schools.
However, I’m actually more interested in how few academies have bothered to apply to have these funding arrangements removed – 37 out of over 2,000 is a dismally low figure! This leads me towards an odd concluding remark: the Government have always justified their changes to QTS requirements on the grounds that there teachers, parents and innovative educationalists alike are baying for the flexibility to organise their teacher workforce how they so wish. But if this is the case, why have so few academies taken up the opportunity open to them?