A chain of academies set up by Schools Minister Lord Nash allows his unqualified and unpaid daughter to teach history and help develop a new curriculum, raising concerns among parents and a union of teachers.
Future academies in Pimlico, central London, was set up by the minister in charge of academies and his wife Caroline. They both retain prominent roles in the organization.
Since September, their daughter Jo Nash has taught four classes between the ages of 10 and 16. She also advises on a new history teaching program and helps recruit staff.
The role of 32-year-old Jo Nash, who does not have a teaching degree but has a history degree, has been questioned by teachers and staff.
Since 2012, academies have been able to hire unqualified teachers, which has angered many members of the profession. Until then, they could only employ people with qualified teacher status.
Two parents lodged complaints against Jo Nash, but a lawyer speaking on behalf of Lord Nash, his daughter and the academy said the complaints were minor, the overall response had been positive and that she did not had not been paid for his services.
But some teachers wondered why she was given a teaching role. They say his role reinforces the impression that the Nash family treats the chain of four schools like a private stronghold.
Michael Parker, the secretary of the Westminster branch of the National Teachers Union, said he was baffled by Jo Nash’s role at the school.
“I find it extraordinary that an unpaid, untrained and unqualified volunteer is allowed to teach children. This is an example of what parents must be prepared for if education deregulation continues.
“Teachers and parents need to be able to trust the governance system of the Future Academies to supervise an untrained and unqualified teacher. It is difficult to keep the faith when the academy trust was created by the parents of an unqualified teacher and her father is the minister of schools, ”he said.
A spokesperson for Future, two of whose four schools have been rated as outstanding by Ofsted, said: “All of our teachers have either qualified teacher status or a diploma corresponding to the subject they teach.”
Lord Nash created Future in 2006 and was a generous Conservative donor before being paired in 2013 and becoming Minister for Academization.
He is director of Future Academies, governor and co-chair of Pimlico Academy, which is part of the chain, and a director of Future, the fundraising charity behind the chain.
Lady Nash, a former stockbroker, is also a director of Future, co-chair of the governors of Pimlico Academy and chair of the governors of two primary schools in the chain.
The chain of academies includes three primary schools and a secondary school in a multicultural downtown area one mile from the Houses of Parliament.
Jo Nash, born Josephine Nash, was educated at Downe House, an independent school in Berkshire whose alumni include actress Miranda Hart and TV presenter Claire Balding. She continued to read modern history at Oxford.
Before moving to teaching, she worked in the office of former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith for at least three years and is always registered as a member of its staff on a parliamentary register.
In September, Jo Nash joined Future as an unskilled teacher and as a consultant to help design the history curriculum and recruit teachers. She is the channel’s only unpaid advisor.
In a document circulated among future teachers, Jo Nash wrote that his love for teaching had to overcome his own negative prejudices about the profession.
“I thought it would be poorly paid, that I would have to spend centuries learning pedagogical theory to even become qualified to teach, and that I would be unlikely to work with like-minded people. Instead, I chose another career path.
“Finally, 10 years later, I had the opportunity to teach. In addition to developing our knowledge-rich program at Future Academies, I teach two classes of 6th grade students at primary level and one class of 7th grade students and one class of GCSE students at secondary level. I chose not to become a qualified teacher because I honestly believe that great energy and a great love for your subject are the most important qualifications, ”she wrote.
Future Academies is now recruitment of Latin and ancient history teachers – and Jo Nash is given as the primary contact for applicants.
This is not the first time that the academy chain has been caught up in a controversy over the use of staff without formal teaching qualifications.
In October 2013, Annaliese Briggs, a 27-year-old principal who had no teaching qualifications, quit her job at Pimlico Primary School after just three weeks.
Parents and teachers last month forced channel officials to drop proposals to extend the day by 45 minutes for children as young as five.
Jonathan Coad, of the law firm Lewis Silkin, answered questions on behalf of Lord Nash, Jo Nash and Future Academies. He said Jo Nash was the only unpaid volunteer at Future Academies, that she was fully funded by her parents, and that she had been “a huge success.”
“The response from parents, staff and students to Jo Nash has been overwhelmingly positive. Among all the compliments, there were only two slightly negative comments – one from a parent who nevertheless insisted that their child liked the class taught by Ms Nash, ”he said.
“Future Academies is an educational charity whose goal is to provide top quality education; create opportunities to make the most of children’s abilities and help them do their best in school. Our work includes the design and development of curricula and teacher training in partnership with the Institute of Education … [Jo Nash] was a huge hit with students and staff.