Labour’s substitute teacher register could be costlier for schools, says recruiters

Recruiters have questioned whether a Labour proposal for a new Substitute Teacher Register, aimed at ending the “spiralling” cost to schools of hiring supply teachers, is workable. Recruiter reports.

Addressing the Labour Party Conference yesterday, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said if elected, Labour would introduce a national Substitute Teacher Register, similar to a system already used in Northern Ireland. The register would allow schools to book teachers at short notice from a government-held register of accredited teachers in the local area.

As well as developing the register, Labour also announced plans to examine the feasibility of setting up a state supply agency to compete within the market, as well as looking into whether further regulation of supply teacher fees is needed to stop the “exorbitant and escalating” costs seen in the industry in recent years.

But Lynis Bassett, director at education recruiter Class People, told Recruiter the proposal was not manageable without a back office team, which would result in further costs for schools.

“We need to address the teacher crisis, not keep looking for alternative supply solutions to schools. It appears both [main political] parties are missing the point: agencies are not the cause of the recruitment issue with teachers, we are a solution. And if you work the numbers, we are a cost-effective solution.”

While Baljinder Kuller, managing director of fellow education staffing specialist The Supply Register, called the proposal in theory a “perfect” solution to rectifying spiralling agency spend, he however added a note of caution.  

“We would welcome further regulation of supply teacher fees to stop the exorbitant and escalating costs seen in the industry in recent years. Pay is inextricably linked with successful teaching and remuneration is often the deciding factor for teachers moving jobs. Until the government mandates a pay structure for professionals across all schools and local authorities, teachers will continue to switch roles to get a better deal, which will only heighten movement and reduce retention.”

Read the full article Labour’s substitute teacher register could be costlier for schools, says recruiters

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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Categories: Employment.


  1. Jane

    Rather predictable that a company which is making a profit from teacher recruitment would be against this. Under ILEA (let us not forget) supply teachers were centrally employed on normal teacher rates. It was a very cheap effective way of operating and because it was well organised the pupils in a school often got to know the supply teachers. The other benefit was that the supply teachers got to know the rules and structures of individual schools. This meant that they had far better discipline than they would have otherwise.

  2. Ballyclarian

    Having dealt with agencies in England to find science supply teachers to cover classes in a v large school, the often poor take home pay of the supply teachers compared to the exhorbitant rate the school is charged by the agency is disgraceful and needs to be changed to reduce this waste. The agencies also charge huge ‘finders fees’ if you want to offer a supply teacher a full time job at the school which can be prohibitive to schools, and unfortunate for the students. I am no fan of labour but in Northern Ireland there is now a central supply register (NISTR)which seems to work well, it would save schools a fortune if this was reworked for use in England, and not such a big task.

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