Voice Community – the education section of Community union – has expressed its concerns about the idea of using student teachers as substitute cover in schools.
Voice Community National Officer Helen Osgood said:
“We strongly oppose the use of student teachers to cover staff shortages.
“Student teachers are not qualified, and this would put them under enormous pressure. They would also need to be supervised, doubling the number of people required to cover one absence. This would also place existing teachers under huge pressure, to provide increased supervision, again increasing their workload.
“Removing supervision would leave students vulnerable and would reduce the quality of the education that children are receiving at a time when they have already missed schooling due to COVID.
“Student teachers are the future of our education workforce and need to be supported as they develop their skills, not have their education and training disrupted by pushing them in at the deep end and leaving them to flounder and potentially preventing them from achieving their full potential.
“This proposal shows all the hallmarks of desperation, and risks damaging teacher supply in the future.
“The Department of Education needs to put measures in place that ensure that the whole workforce feel valued, with reduced workload and pressures.
“This short-term fix would do nothing to address this burden, but does risk reducing the quality of education being delivered, putting pressure on existing staff who are already going above and beyond, coming up with creative solutions to keep schools open, at a time that we are seeing an exponential growth in infection.”
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