‘Unqualified staff could teach pupils’

Pathways School. (p611a503)

Pathways School. (p611a503)

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Unqualified staff could be hired to teach some of the district’s most vulnerable children.

That is the claim made by Wakefield and District NUT branch secretary Sally Kincaid after proposals were revealed to convert Pathways School in Townville, Castleford, into an academy.

The school, which caters for children with autism and other special educational needs, was judged to be inadequate by Ofsted inspectors last November and was placed into special measures.

The school had been judged as outstanding on its previous inspection in 2010.

And a replacement governing body – called an Interim Executive Board – has now been appointed to raise standards in children’s classrooms.

The board told the school’s staff of their plans but Mrs Kincaid said they are concerned about the effects it could have on the children’s education.

She said: “There is no evidence showing that academies raise standards in education.

“Academies can employ teachers without qualified teacher status. The NUT is opposed to children being taught by unqualified teachers and believes this will lead to the erosion of teachers’ professional status.

“Academisation is not a magic wand as we can see from secondary schools in the district which are currently in an Ofsted category.

“It will leave our most vulnerable students without the safety net of the local authority.

“There will be less democratic accountability as the school will be run by another one out of the district, which will give parents less say about their children’s education.”

Coun Olivia Rowley, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said: “We are working with Pathways School and its Interim Executive Board (IEB) to support it to improve standards following last year’s Ofsted report.

“Our focus is on doing what’s best for the children of the school and ensuring it makes the right amount of progress as quickly as possible.

“Whether or not the school is converted to an academy is a matter for the IEB to decide, although we would of course be keen to attend any meetings that the IEB have with the Department for Education.”