Academies in Britain will be given additional flexibility in their hiring practices under new rules announced by the Department of Education earlier this week. Like all British private schools, academies will be allowed to hire instructors who don’t have the “qualified teacher status” required to teach in traditional state schools. This will allow academies to hire those trained in other professions like scientists, engineers and musicians, as well as experienced instructors from overseas who, in addition to possessing unparalleled expertise in their subject area, can also prove to be exceptional teachers.
Nearly 2,000 academies are currently operating in Britain, and they will be able to take advantage of the new leeway starting this November. In additional, about half of state secondary schools will be able to apply for the same exemption to hire staff without QTS.
Mr Gove was unavailable for comment on his reforms, which are expected to be resisted by teachers’ unions.
The education secretary has already clashed with the two biggest teaching unions, the NASUWT and the NUT, over a series of changes that they say amount to an attack on teachers’ pay and working conditions.
A department spokesman said that handing over the hiring power to the academies only brings them in line with other independent and free schools that are already allowed to hire without regard to traditional teaching qualifications. By dropping the QTS requirement, the Department of Education is greatly expanding the hiring pool available to the academies rather than limiting their options only to those teachers who have previously taught in state schools.
“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.”
The spokesman said the “vast majority” of teachers were likely to continue to have formal teaching qualifications, and that no existing teacher’s contract will be affected.
The new rules don’t exempt the schools from oversight by Ofsted, which will continue to keep watch over the quality of instruction at all British schools via inspections and annual rankings.
Richard Cairns, the Headmaster of Brighton College — one of the leading independent schools in the country — welcomed the change by saying that, in his experience, professionals from other industries who trained on the job turn out to be superior teachers to those who took the conventional route to the classroom. He said that his experience bears out the belief that great teachers are born rather than made.