The coronavirus pandemic has “sparked a rethink” in the way multi-academy trusts manage supply teacher costs, with 14 per cent now saying they plan to employ them directly, according to a report.
The ninth annual Kreston Academies Benchmark Report, published today, reveals that almost 70 per cent of trusts have saved money on supply staff costs during the pandemic, with some trusts saving “tens of thousands of pounds per school”.
The report states that supply staff costs per pupil in secondary schools more than halved last year from £191 to £92. However, it says that supply costs rose in September as the pandemic progressed and many schools experienced higher levels of staff absence.
Coronavirus: Supply teachers unpaid due to 'cash flow'
The report states: “Closing schools meant that they saved money on energy costs, educational supplies and other property costs – but the biggest saving for many came from supply costs.
“We surveyed our clients just before Christmas 2020 to gain further insight into the financial position of the sector. Almost 70 per cent of clients said that they had saved money on supply. While some of these savings were modest, some trusts saved tens of thousands per school.
“This has also prompted a number of trusts to reconsider how they manage supply costs in the future, with 14 per cent of those surveyed saying they are now planning on employing their own cover.”
Last year, Tes reported how some trusts were planning to set up their own supply teacher pools to help limit the number of visitors to schools during the pandemic.
This was welcomed by the NASUWT union as potentially creating the way for better pay and conditions for supply teachers.
Pam Tuckett, chair of the Kreston Academies Group, said: “Our report suggests that the pandemic has sparked a rethink of how trusts can meet their staffing requirements in the months and years ahead as they navigate their way through this situation to return to previous levels of financial stability.”
The idea of MATs having their own employed cover may come as a blow to supply teacher agencies, which have been criticised by unions for “systematic syphoning of money out of the education system” and for not allowing teachers to access the government’s furlough scheme.