Company defends use of supply teachers in classrooms

Susan Sanderson, a primary school supply teacher from Cramlington, with John Fraser, from Newcastle, a supply teacher specialising in primary and middle school education.
Susan Sanderson, a primary school supply teacher from Cramlington, with John Fraser, from Newcastle, a supply teacher specialising in primary and middle school education.

Claims that using more supply teachers is costing schools a fortune have been dismissed by an education recruitment company.

The Education Network says a recent National Union of Teachers (NUT) report that teacher shortages are costing schools hundreds of millions of pounds in temporary supply staff is misleading.

Kevin Gill, managing director at The Education Network, said: “The NUT say schools in England spent £733m last year on supply teacher agencies which is wasting money intended for children’s education, but it is overlooking a very important point when it comes to perceived teacher shortages.

“During the last 12 months we’ve seen a 100 percent increase in the number of teachers seeking short-term contracts and supply work. They are highly qualified, experienced individuals, many have held full-time senior posts in schools but they are turning to supply teaching as a lifestyle choice.

“If supply teachers were considered by teaching unions and Government in the same way as teachers on permanent contracts there wouldn’t be such a perceived shortage.”

Susan Sanderson, from Cramlington, works for The Education Network and has been teaching for 13 years, the first 11 of which were in full-time permanent positions.

She said: “Since becoming a supply teacher two years ago, I am happier than I have ever been.

“For the first time, since I entered the teaching profession I have an acceptable work-life balance. I also have renewed energy, enthusiasm and motivation in the classroom which means I can ‘give my all’ when teaching.

“I know of several people who successfully qualified as teachers, but then made informed decisions to apply for jobs as teaching assistants, rather than as teachers.

“You can recruit until the cows come home, but you need to look at what is causing teachers to leave the profession in their droves and I can tell you this, it isn’t a lack of talented, passionate and gifted individuals.

“Supply teaching agencies are providing an essential service, by putting qualified and experienced teachers into schools on a daily basis, to plug the gaps which, essentially, the teaching industry causes.”

Mr Gill added: “We fully understand the challenges and difficulties facing schools today and are continuously researching and developing new tools and methods that will help reduce our clients’ resourcing spend whilst keeping quality high.”