The BBC is reporting warnings from teaching unions that teacher shortages are costing schools hundreds of millions of pounds in temporary supply staff.
The National Union of Teachers says schools in England spent £733m last year on supply teacher agencies.
The teachers’ union argues that the difficulty in recruiting teachers means schools are forced to use their budgets on supply staff – and that these temporary staff are not receiving the same pay and benefits as full-time teachers.
“Supply teacher agencies are making millions while supply teachers’ pay continues to plummet,” said NUT leader Christine Blower.
“This is money which should be used for children’s education, not going towards boosting the profits of private companies.”
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation rejected the NUT claims as unfair and said schools with vacancies “rely on their recruitment partners to bring in quality teachers, often at very short notice”.
“Agencies charge a daily rate for temporary contracts and the majority of this will go directly to the teacher. It is up to schools, agencies and teachers to negotiate pay rates and this can vary according to location and other factors such as how much experience the teacher has,” said head of policy Kate Shoesmith.
She said agencies “typically take between 15-30% cent of the fee”.
Russell Hobby, leader of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Heads are increasingly forced to rely on supply agencies because they can’t find permanent staff in time.
“This creates real problems with continuity and coherence, particularly important with vulnerable children. It is also expensive at a time of increasing budget pressures…”
This is an interesting angle of the recruitment issue that we haven’t heard before but I’m trying to understand the logic of why schools can’t recruit enough teachers but are able to bring them in as supply teachers.
Are the people working as supply teachers specifically choosing that route in preference to a permanent job and, if so, why when, as Christine Blower suggests, this results in lower pay and benefits? And why are schools using supply teachers if, again as suggested, this costs more because of the mark up that goes to the agencies?
If schools have vacancies and supply teachers are filling the gaps, why aren’t the supply teachers taking up the permanent vacancies?
Anyone out there able to point out what I am missing here?
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