TAs, HLTAs and Unqualified Teachers

Effects of t he 2003 Workforce Remodelling Agreement signed by the NASUWT, ATL, etc. 

The NUT refused to sign because of the clause which allows anyone to teach, regardless of qualification.  The NUT believes that only qualified teachers should be in charge of a class and that every lesson should be taught by a qualified teacher, assisted by at least one support assistant.  The valuable role of TA or HLTA should be in addition to the role of the teacher, for every lesson, not replacing the teacher.   The NUT also supports the Support Staff unions in their campaign for proper pay and conditions for support staff.

The NUT has made a national agreement with UNISON re. the role of support staff and that of teachers, and respective union positions.

Advice from Suffolk Local Authority about the proper employment of TAs and HLTAs (with particular attention to PPA, but rehearses the principles of the distinction between HLTA and Teacher).

Don't plan for (HL)TAs "covering" for your PPA time (briefing from Suffolk NUT)

A Model Job Description for TAs Level 1, TAs Level 2 and HLTAs Level 3


What's the difference between TAs and HLTAs?

Strictly speaking, TAs and HLTAs should only do the work laid down by the Model Job Descriptions above, but because the Workforce Remodelling Agreement has removed the stipulation that only those with QTS can actually teach, there is nothing to stop a headteacher asking / expecting / directing at TA or HLTA to "teach", i.e. to do any or all of the duties of a teacher defined as "specified work".

- In theory, "Ordinary" TAs (and Cover Supervisors) are not allowed to do any "specified work". 

Specified work is a legal term and is defined in law as:

(a)        planning and preparing lessons and courses for pupils;

(b)       delivering lessons to pupils;

(c)        assessing the development, progress and attainment of pupils; and

(d)       reporting on the development, progress and attainment of pupils.

Note:        In paragraph (1) (b) "delivering" includes delivery via distance learning or computer aided techniques.

So, TAs and Cover Supervisors should not do any of the above tasks, which are the same as "teaching".  The HLTA job description does include "specified work" and they can, in law, "teach".  The HLTA contract will include a clause permitting "some" whole class teaching "for short periods", but this is not defined and, as there is nothing in the regulations to prevent it, in some schools HLTAs and even TAs are employed to teach timetabled whole classes.  This is against NUT policy but not against the law, unfortunately.   

All requirements to "deliver lessons" is a requirement to undertake specified work, i.e. "teaching".

Because of the 2003 Agreement, HLTAs are legally permitted to do specified work.  So the only difference between an HLTA teaching a class and a teacher with QTS taking the same lesson is that the HLTA is paid less and is on Local Government terms and conditions, whereas the Teacher is paid on Qualified Teacher scales and his/her pay and conditions are those contained in the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document.


What is the difference between an HLTA and a Teacher?

Basically, the only difference is that the Teacher has qualified as a teacher.  HLTA's can, in law, do the same work.  Although this is considered "bad practice" by the LA and DCSF, there is in fact nothing in law to stop a school employing an HLTA all week to cover the lessons of qualified teachers taking their PPA time, or indeed, to take timetabled classes.

There is a legal definition of a "teacher".  Those who meet the definition must in law be paid under the terms of the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document.

The legal definition of a teacher is found in Section 122(3) of the Section 122 of the Education Act 2002 which provides as follows:

(3)        A person is a school teacher for the purposes of this section if –

(a)       he is a qualified teacher;

(b)       he provides primary or secondary education under a contract of employment or for services;

(c)       the other party to the contract is a local education authority or the governing body of a foundation, voluntary aided or foundation special school; and

(d)       the contract requires him to carry out work of a kind which is specified by regulations under section 133(1).

The work referred to in (d) is the same Specified Work as above.


Unqualified Teachers paid on the Unqualified Scales in the STP&CD include:

- Instructors, who can only be employed if the school has not been able to find a qualified teacher to fill that vacancy. Suffolk Local Authority expects the post to be advertised "regularly", e.g. once a term.  If a qualified teacher applies and is appointed, the instructor's contract will be terminated, with appropriate notice.

- Graduate Trainee Teachers and Overseas Trained Teachers are paid on Unqualified Teacher Scales until they gain QTS.  There are certain time constraints by which time, the trainee has to qualify.

- Teachers with an FE Qualification such as an FE PGCE which is not recognised for QTS by the DCSF, teaching in a school.  Technically, such posts are also subject to re-advertising regularly, for a "qualified" person.  However, the advent of 14-19 Diplomas is likely to see some alterations here, because of the need for teachers of non-traditional subjects, in 11-16 and 11-18 schools.

Suffolk NUT

2008