Opinion Former Article

BHA say non-qualified teacher model could allow "narrow and inappropriate" teaching in faith schools

A new model funding agreement for Academies has been released by the Department for Education (DfE) specifying that the teachers they employ do not need to hold Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). The British Humanist Association (BHA) has expressed concern that religious and pseudoscientific groups will take advantage of this change in ways that lead to a biasing of the curriculum.

The new model funding agreement, which was released on Friday afternoon, changes the rules around employing teachers to mirror the existing rules for Free Schools. Instead of having to hire those with Qualified Teacher Status, an Academy may now ‘employ anyone it deems is suitably qualified’. The change will not apply to existing Academies, but to any new Academies opening from this date forward.

BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal commented, ‘We are seriously concerned that this change will lead to religious Academies employing individuals to teach not because they are qualified for the role, but because they are prepared to teach in line with narrow and unshared visions which are inappropriate for state-funded schools. For example, how long will it be before “faith” Academies begin routinely hiring priests, rabbis or imams to teach Religious Education? What is to stop Academies hiring individuals with creationist beliefs to teach science? There isn’t even a clause in the Academies model funding agreement saying that they can’t teach pseudoscience.

‘We urge the Government to reverse this change.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal at pavan@humanism.org.uk or on 0773 843 5059.

Read the new model funding agreement for Academies: http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/typesofschools/academies/secondary/steps/b00209699/supporting-documents/single-academies

The new clause 18 says:

Subject to clause 19, the Academy Trust shall, in accordance with any guidance which the Secretary of State may issue on the qualifications of teaching and other staff in Academies, employ anyone it deems is suitably qualified or is otherwise eligible under a contract of employment or for services to carry out planning and preparing lessons and courses for pupils, delivering lessons to pupils, assessing the development, progress and attainment of pupils, and reporting on the development, progress and attainment of pupils.

Read the Free Schools model funding agreement: http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/typesofschools/freeschools/a0074737/free-schools-model-funding-agreement

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools: http://www.humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/faith-schools

View the BHA’s newly updated table of types of school with a religious character: http://www.humanism.org.uk/_uploads/documents/schools-with-a-religious-character.pdf

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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