And although government figures from the January 2000 census will only tell us what was happening on a single day, it is likely to be the best data available.
Figures from the 1999 census show that authorities reported a wide variation in the percentage of occasional or unqualified teachers in service. Ten of London's 32 boroughs reported the equivalent of more than 7 per cent of their teachers as occasional or unqualified on cesus day. In contrast, many authorities outside London reported relatively low percentages with two reporting under 2 per cent.
In total, just over 3,000 agency and 10,000 other occasional teachers were shown as working in English schools. However, these figures may underestimate the true position. We need to know more about the causes of supply-need variations.
Has your school had to employ more supply teachers this year because of the flu? And how easy were they to find?