10 reasons why supply teaching is getting worse

Exclusive: Research reveals worsening health and safety conditions for supply teachers with fewer saying they're made welcome in schools

supply teachers plight

Research by the NASUWT teaching union has revealed how working conditions for supply teachers in schools have worsened since last year, with less access to the staffroom, food and drink facilities and even toilets.

The survey, of 830 supply teachers across the country, also found that the number of supply teachers reporting they are “always made to feel welcome” in a school has fallen from 61 per cent in 2018 to 37 per cent this year.

Almost half are not given information on pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and/or behavioural problems, while almost a third are not given clear information of behaviour management policies, including who to contact if there is a problem.

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NASUWT acting general secretary Chris Keates said there was concern over the health and safety of supply teachers. 

She said: "Failure by schools to provide supply teachers with vital health and safety information is a serious dereliction of their responsibilities.

“It is also disturbing that supply teachers report not being given essential information about the learning needs of the pupils in the classes they are covering, leaving both the teacher and the pupils vulnerable."

The findings among supply teachers found:  

  • 52 per cent said they didn't always have access to food and drink facilities, compared with 39 per cent last year.

  • 45 per cent said they didn’t always have access to car parking, an increase of 10 percentage points since last year.

  • 13 per cent said they didn't have access to toilet or washroom facilities, compared with 11 per cent last year.

  • 26 per cent said they didn't always have access to staffrooms, compared with 19 per cent last year.

  • 43 per cent said they were not given clear information on the school’s fire evacuation policy, an increase of 12 percentage points since last year.

  • 37 per cent of supply teachers said they were “always made to feel welcome” by their school – down from 61 per cent in 2018.

  • 29 per cent were not given clear information on behaviour management policies, including who to contact.

  • 44 per cent said they were not given information on the young people in school with SEND and/or behavioural problems.

  • 23 per cent said they were always made to feel welcome by the students, compared with 46 per cent last year. 

  • 18 per cent said they were always made to feel welcome by the parents, compared with 31 per cent last year.

The research also highlights how more supply teachers this year have been forced to cut back on food spending.

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation, which represents supply-teacher agencies*, said: “Earlier this year, our survey of over 200 supply teachers working at REC agencies found that 75 per cent were either satisfied or very satisfied with their agency, with only 7 per cent dissatisfied.

"Furthermore, 78 per cent would recommend their recruiter to a friend or colleague while only 8 per cent would not.

“Supply teachers do highly valuable work often at short notice and this should be properly recognised. As required by law, all agency workers, including supply teachers, must be paid for any work they’ve done.

"The schools where the supply teacher is assigned decide on pay rate. Schools should decide on pay rates for supply teachers that is appropriate to the individual and the role.

"The Department for Education says it has  launched 'a new deal' to 'improve agency practices and support schools with getting value for money when hiring agency workers'.

"Agencies on the deal must be open with schools and staff about the rates they charge, conduct consistent, rigorous background screening checks and adhere to strict controls around the charging of temp-to-perm fees," schools minister Nick Gibb has said. 

*Tes' parent company Tes Global owns three teacher-supply agencies

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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