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Conference calls for CPD to be extended to supply staff

Supply teachers in Wales need better support and more specialist training to close the skills gap with permanent teachers, a conference heard last week.

The event at Swansea Metropolitan University highlighted the need for equality in the profession. Speakers also called for continuing professional development (CPD) courses for supply teachers.

Recent statistics show that more than 40 per cent of primary schools in Wales use a supply teacher at least one day a week, often at significant cost.

Swansea Metropolitan's Peter Thomas, a former headteacher, told delegates that supply teachers have been accused of low-grade, poor-quality teaching.

But he countered: "These people are qualified teachers and we should be doing all we can to support them so that classroom switchover between teachers becomes seamless and our children's education is not affected."

Mr Thomas said there was a need for continuing professional development courses that do not clash with supply teachers' opportunities to work.

He also suggested creating funded courses that would provide an incentive for supply staff to learn rather than earn.

He called for a "learning community" to be established among supply teachers so good practice could be shared, and said there should be an "open culture" within schools to encourage improvements in teaching.

The conference was organised by the Dragon Innovation Partnership, a collaboration between Swansea Metropolitan University, Swansea University and Trinity University College, Carmarthen.

It included a series of group discussions during which supply teachers gave their thoughts and opinions.

Jane Hutt, the education minister, encouraged delegates to take their most important points to the Assembly government, and said that the next review of continuing professional development would investigate specifically the needs of supply teachers.

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