SIXTH form students are being paid to teach younger pupils at Chalfonts Community College, Gerrards Cross.

Headteacher Sue Tanner said the poor quality of supply teachers had led to A-level students from the college teaching its 11 to 16 year olds.

The 24 students - who must be taking an A-level for the subject they teach - are paid £5 for every 50 minutes.

And the results have been fantastic beyond our expectations' said Mrs Tanner, who said she believed "very few" UK schools had a similar practice.

Students are brought in when teachers are absent for short periods of time at the school in Narcot Lane, Chalfont St Peter, Mrs Tanner said.

She said: "The quality of some of the supply teachers that come here is less than we would expect.

"They are not teaching, it is more like babysitting, they are just coming in and sitting there to cover.

"Sometimes they don't understand the expectations here, that we have a behaviour policy we expect teachers to follow."

She said the positive attitude of the sixth form students could be put to good use at the school, where about half its GCSE pupils get A* to C grades, including English and maths.

Mrs Tanner said: "Student leadership is exceptionally strong, for example the student council.

"The students get the information they need for the lesson the day before and they are expected to work on it overnight so they are well prepared."

Training was also given for issues such as confidentiality and "classroom control" she said.

And an adult "cover supervisor" is always in lessons taken by the students, she said.

"We are not allowing children to be in charge of another group of children."

Mrs Tanner said: "It has been fantastic beyond our expectations because the feedback we get from the children is we are learning something'.

"When teachers are off sick we can't do much about that but we can provide the children with the best quality lessons we can.

"It is nothing to with saving money - that would be the last thing on our minds.

"It actually costs us more because we are paying for the adult to be in the room as well as the teacher."