Support staff doing teachers’ work, teacher shortages mean classroom support staff are doing work normally done by qualified teachers, suggests a survey of union members.

Some two-thirds of almost 700 classroom supervisors who responded felt they did the work of supply teachers, says the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

“This can only lead to lower educational standards,” said ATL general secretary Mary Bousted.

The government said support staff should not be used to replace teachers.

Last week, a report by the official spending watchdog confirmed there were growing teacher shortages in many areas, with the government having missed recruitment targets for four years.

Dr Bousted said teacher shortages, along with increasing pressure on school budgets, were leading to the use of support staff to replace teachers “in a way that was never intended”.

“So rather than hiring a temporary teacher, schools are asking support staff to teach.

“They should not be asked to do it,” said Dr Bousted.

Teachers’ Overtime

Overall, of the 1,763 support staff who responded to the survey, the overwhelming majority were in England, with 67 in Wales and smaller numbers from other parts of the UK.

Of these, some 78% said they regularly worked overtime, with 44% saying they put in up to three hours, and 12% seven hours or more extra time per week.

Only 11% said they always got paid for additional hours.

Of almost 700 who answered questions on supervising classes for absent teachers, 72% said it was impossible to supervise without teaching some form of lesson.

And 64% felt their work as cover supervisors was indistinguishable from supply teaching.

Some reported being asked to undertake lesson planning and marking as well.