Multi-academy trusts could be about to set up their own supply teacher pools as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The pools would help to limit the number of visitors to schools as well as create better pay and conditions for supply teachers, says the NASUWT teaching union.
The union’s national spokesperson for supply teachers said: “At the moment, we know of a number of multi-academy trusts that are looking to establish their own supply pool, with the hope that more might follow suit.
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“There are a number of advantages, including that there’s continuity of education for pupils, it helps staff to develop better working relationships, and supply teachers feel more valued and engaged in the school community.
“Without supply agency fees, the expectation is that more money would be passed on to supply teachers, coupled with a saving to the school.
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“It would appear that this idea has come about as a result of Covid-19 and the need for schools to create and maintain the integrity of 'bubbles' and to have supply staff readily available."
The NASUWT has previously expressed “serious concerns” over how many supply teachers were accessing the government’s Job Retention Scheme because agencies and umbrella organisations were refusing to furlough them.
The spokesperson added: “I think there’s a real moral argument that MATs and local authorities who use agencies [and umbrella companies] should be asking those agencies whether they put their supply teachers on furlough [during the partial school closures]. And if they didn’t, they shouldn’t be using those agencies because, where eligible, supply teachers were not correctly furloughed under the Job Retention Scheme.”
A spokesperson for the FCSA (Freelancer and Contractor Services Association), which represents umbrella companies, said: "Not all agencies or umbrellas have been able to support individuals through the furlough scheme. This has largely been due to the financial pressures faced by them as a result of substantial drops in income whilst bearing the administrative and fixed costs to their business, and also due to the strict government rules on those workers who were able to qualify for furlough in the first place."
A spokesperson for the REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation), which represents supply agencies, said: "In a poll of REC education members, over 90 per cent said they had furloughed at least some of their supply teachers over the course of the pandemic. However, as with all businesses, many agencies have had to make difficult decisions during the past few months because of the large number of teachers on their books, a lack of clarity in government guidance, or worries around clawback by HMRC."