Hourly supply rate leads to lower pay

Nic Barnard

When is a day's work not a day? When you're paid by the hour. Nic Barnard reports.

It's not a long journey but, as Bev Elliott found out, crossing the county border can cost you a lot of money.

Nearly pound;30 a day, in fact. That's the difference between what the occasional supply teacher was paid in Lancashire and in his home town of Kendal in Cumbria.

Lancashire schools, which hired the retired design and technology teacher and ex-naval officer for a day, paid him a daily rate - one 195th of a teacher's annual salary, or pound;123.

But when he took a day's work in his local Kendal comprehensive, he found he received an hourly rate - one 1,265th of the annual salary - and got paid only for the five hours he spent in front of the class. That came to less than pound;95.

"I think it's shabby - they're getting their supply teachers on the cheap," Mr Elliott, 56, said. "I've got friends in the building industry. Bricklayers wouldn't get out of bed for less than pound;100."

The discrepancy comes because full-time teachers are contracted to work 1,265 hours over 195 days each year. Supply teachers should be paid pro rata, the national contract says - but would that be hourly or daily?

Department for Education and Skills guidance says schools should consider a full day to be six-and-a-half hours, including non-teaching duties.

"Teachers should always be offered the opportunity of being involved in other duties as well as teaching pupils, and should then be paid at the full daily rate." But the guidance has no legal force.

Kendal schools say they are following Cumbria LEA advice - although the authority says it merely echoes the national line - and that the practice is common across the country.

But other local authorities, including Hampshire and Leeds, told The TES they would recommend schools pay a daily rate for daily supply.

In the meantime, Mr Elliott has a nice sideline of teaching forklift truck driving in further education colleges and has no plans to teach again in Cumbrian schools.

"They wouldn't have me back anyway after the stink I've caused."

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Nic Barnard

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