Exclusive: More skint supply teachers cut back on food

'Desperate' supply teachers also pressured into working for nothing on promise of a job, new research finds

Supply teachers: Cash-strapped supply teachers are being forced to cut back on food, research shows

More supply teachers are having to cut back on food as a result of “serious financial hardship,” according to research from the NASUWT teaching union.

In an annual survey run by the union, completed by 830 supply teachers across the country, 41 per cent said that in the past year they'd had to cut back on food spending- up 5 percentage points compared with 2018.

Despite pay increases for other teachers, just 12 per cent of supply teachers said their pay had increased in the past year, and 68 per cent said supply agencies operated a ceiling on their level of pay, while many qualified supply teachers were being paid at unqualified teacher rates. 

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The research also shows there has also been an increase since last year in the number of supply teachers having to take a second job (up 2 percentage points to 19 per cent) or rely on increased use of credit (up 3 percentage points to 23 per cent).

'Exploitation' of supply teachers

NASUWT acting general secretary Chris Keates said: “Supply teachers find themselves in low-paid, insecure and precarious work, facing the unacceptable and iniquitous choice between working below their salary level or getting no work at all.

“This is leaving many supply teachers in increasing financial hardship, reliant on credit, benefits or second jobs to make ends meet.”

Ms Keates also said some supply teachers were so “desperate” for work they were pressured into working for nothing in free trials “on the vague promise of future employment”.

She said there was a “continuing exploitation of supply teachers” and that too many schools colluded with the poor practices of some of the agencies.

She added: “Schools which fail to honour the contractual rights of their permanently employed teachers and force them to cover for absence are seriously affecting the availability of work for supply teachers, whilst at the same time denying their own teachers their rights and adding to their workload.”

Last year, the union highlighted that out of a total of £1.1 billion spent on supply teachers by maintained schools and academies, just 31 per cent was allocated to supply teachers’ pay.

This year's research, which also highlights a decline in health and safety conditions for supply teachers since last year, also shows that one in 10 supply teachers said they had had to claim benefits since becoming a supply teacher.

Four-fifths of supply teachers said they were paid between £75 and £149 per day.

The Recruitment and 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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