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Teachers: Qualifications

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 9 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what minimum academic qualifications are required of school (a) teaching assistants, (b) technicians, (c) unqualified teachers and (d) other school support staff. (153878)

The Education (Specified Work and Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2003 allow for the following to be employed as unqualified teachers and undertake specified work in maintained schools or non-maintained special schools in England:

Trainee teachers undertaking employment-based initial teacher training (ITT) who have a first degree or equivalent or have completed a minimum of two years in higher education;

Until 31 August 2008, those who have successfully undertaken ITT programmes but have not been awarded qualified teacher status (QTS) because they have not passed the skills tests. They will be qualified to first degree or equivalent;

Overseas trained teachers who have successfully completed a recognised programme of ITT in their home country are allowed to teach as unqualified teachers for four years in maintained schools in England, the four-year period starting on the first day on which they first taught in a maintained school in England;

Instructors, when there is no qualified or trainee teacher available, providing they have special qualifications or experience relevant to the post; and

Teaching assistants, technicians and other support staff, for whom there are no minimum academic qualifications to work in a school, providing the head teacher is satisfied the person has the suitability, experience and ability for each post and they work under the direction and supervision of a qualified teacher.

There are no national minimum entry level qualifications for school support staff as it is for head teachers to assess the suitability and experience of individual candidates against specific posts. However, there are a range of qualifications and training routes that teaching assistants, technicians and other support staff can access once employed by a school or local authority. The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) have recently completed a review of the National Occupational Standards for teaching assistants and professional standards for Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTAs) against which teaching assistants and HLTAs can be assessed. In addition, the TDA published a three-year strategy in 2006, “Developing people to support learning”, to create a framework of standards and qualifications to enable schools to develop the potential of all support staff.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the minimum GCSE requirements to be a teacher are; what they were in each year since 1986-87; and if he will make a statement. (154002)

Teachers in maintained and non-maintained special schools in England are required to have undertaken a programme of initial teacher training leading to the award of qualified teacher status (QTS). In order to enter any initial teacher training programme leading to QTS, whether undergraduate, postgraduate or employment-based, applicants must have at least a grade ‘C’ in GCSE English and mathematics or have reached the equivalent standard; this has been a requirement since before 1986/87.

This is in addition to the requirement to have a suitable degree qualification.

Additionally, those training to teach in primary schools will also need a GCSE grade ‘C' in a science subject or to have reached the equivalent standard.

From 1 September 1998, all new entrants to primary courses who were born on or after 1 September 1979 were required to have attained a standard equivalent to a GCSE grade ‘C’ in a science subject. All trainees recruited to primary initial teacher training on or after 1 October 2006 must have attained a standard equivalent to a GCSE grade ‘C’ in a science subject regardless of their date of birth.