Support staff carrying out teachers work, ATL says

According to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), teacher shortages mean classroom support staff are regularly completing duties that should be carried out by qualified teachers.

The union conducted a survey, with around two thirds of almost 700 classroom supervisors claiming they often carried out the work of supply teachers.

Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary, said the habit could ‘only lead to lower educational standards’, adding that increasing pressure on school budgets meant schools were relying on support staff to replace qualified teachers ‘in a way that was never intended’.

The comment follows the National Audit Office’s (NAO) report which outlined growing teacher shortages and the government’s failure to keep pace with recruitment targets.

Of the respondents, 78 per cent of support staff said they regularly worked overtime. 44 per cent said they put in up to three hours of extra time per week and 12 per cent claimed they put in up to seven hours or more of extra time per week.

The survey revealed only 11 per cent confirmed they received payment for the additional hours. It found that 72 per cent of support staff who supervised classes for absent teachers claimed it was impossible to supervise without teaching some kind of lesson.

The ATL report has called on the government to address the workload issues for all education staff.

Bousted said: "This survey shows that, sadly, support staff feel over-utilised and undervalued. It is driving experienced and valuable staff from the profession.”

A Department for Education (DfE) spokeswoman said: "We trust heads, governors and academy trusts to plan their staffing. Support staff are best used when they add value to what teachers do, not when they replace them."

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