It can be reported today that there has been a 60% increase in unqualified teachers entering the class room since 2013. Labour has hit out at the Conservatives for allowing an estimated 600,000 pupils to be taught by an unqualified teacher per year. Data also reveals that Tory pet-projects, academies & free schools, have a significantly higher proportion of unqualified teachers compared to state run secondary schools; 9.6%, 11.3%, vs 5.3% respectively.
The dramatic increase in unqualified teachers entering the class room comes as no surprise, as it has previously been revealed that qualified teachers have been leaving the profession in record numbers. In 2015 the Teachers Union revealed 4 out 10 teachers quit the profession a year after qualifying, a three-times increase in those leaving the profession since the Conservatives came into power since 2010. For longer-term teachers, figured analysed by the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) found teachers quitting the profession had jumped to over 10% for STEM or language related subjects, in the period of 2010-2015. It had taken just 5-years for the Conservatives to transform teaching into a toxic profession.
Teachers have been crippled with excessive working hours, unrealistic targets, and a bombardment of government policy – often changing things for the worse. Although, none of these matches the underlying problem, the real terms cuts to school funding. The Institute for Fiscal Studies highlights that education funding has fallen by 6.7% since 2010, and if the Conservatives maintain their current education plans, a further 6.5% decrease in real-terms funding can be expected. These education cuts have led to schools cutting down on the number of subjects they teach, and at an extreme some are being forced to consider a 4-day week.
The current Tory government intends to rebalance the issue for schools in the south, by reworking the funding formula. The reworked formula would have seen a transfer of up to 10% of school budgets from the north, to southern schools who have historically received less funding per head. However, with a slim working majority, Theresa May has been forced to put controversial legislation on-hold, fearing a humiliating defeat as northern MPs could openly rebel.
A policy less controversial but placed on the scrap heap today was the free primary school breakfast policy. A major U-turn on the manifesto pledge means children will not receive a healthy breakfast at school. The policy was originally costed at 7pence per head in the manifesto, leading to wide ranging criticism from experts. Angela Rayner has called the move “yet another humiliating U-turn on education policy from Theresa May’s weak and wobbly government”.