The Liberal Democrats have written to the education secretary asking him to “give reassurance and guidance to supply teachers” and calling for the creation of a scheme to pair supply teachers with schools in need of support.
In a letter to Gavin Williamson, Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Layla Moran says: "Supply teachers are a crucial and valued part of our education system, and we must ensure they are treated as such as the Covid-19 crisis continues.
“What plans does the government have to use these supply teachers as a resource at this time?
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“It strikes me that a scheme to match out-of-work supply teachers with schools in need of support in order to cater for [the children of] key workers and vulnerable children benefits both our education system and the teachers themselves.”
Last week, supply teachers working for agencies under PAYE tax arrangements learned they can be paid 80 per cent of their wage through the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme if their agencies sign up to it.
However, Ms Moran said the pandemic had “left many supply teachers fearing for their future” and called on Mr Williamson to write an open letter to supply teachers similar to that written by Welsh education minister Kirsty Williams to supply teachers in Wales.
Ms Williams’ letter includes links on where to find further information on the coronavirus job retention scheme as well as guidance on how supply teachers can check their employment status and a link to regularly-updated FAQs.
A government spokesperson said: “We know that that this is an extremely challenging time for everyone – and many people will be concerned about their job security over the coming months.
“The government is doing everything it can to support workers, including employed and self-employed supply teachers, through grants to cover 80 per cent of employees' salaries and the self-employment income support scheme announced by the chancellor last week.”
The DfE guidance for supply teachers includes:
- The support available for supply teachers and other temporary workers will depend on their employment status and individual circumstances. If they are not directly employed by a school or local authority, but are an employee, agency worker, or on a zero hours contract, they should speak with their employer in the first instance, and refer to the guidance for furloughed employees and workers.
- Employers should refer to the guidance for furloughing employees and workers. Agencies and umbrella companies who meet the coronavirus job retention scheme eligibility criteria can apply for this support for their supply teachers.
- If you are self-employed, you should refer to the guidance for the self-employed income support scheme.
- If you are unsure on what type of worker you are, you can read employment status advice and guidance.
- Schools should first draw on their existing staff to maintain necessary provision, but schools may continue to need supply teachers and other temporary workers throughout this period. We encourage schools and employment businesses (agencies) to continue to liaise on any potential need to ensure workers are available where required.
- Schools will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year as usual, regardless of any periods of partial or complete closure. This will ensure that they are able to continue to pay for staff and meet their other regular financial commitments.
- Supply teachers who are not self-employed may benefit from the wider support package for workers announced by the Chancellor on further details of which can be found here.
- Guidance for schools, including on workforce, is available here