ONE of Britain's largest supply agencies has cut its teachers' top rate of pay, despite the recruitment shortfall which has created a huge demand for staff.
Capita Education Resourcing, which has traditionally offered supply staff in the north of England the chance to be paid to scale, has cut cash to its most experienced teachers from pound;123 to pound;110 a day.
However, it appears that the reduction has not been passed on to schools. The cut followed the takeover of recruitment agency Capstan by Capita, and merger with two smaller agencies, to become Capita ER.
A Sheffield teacher with 10 years' experience, who was on point nine of the scale and was therefore earning the top rate last term, said that Capita ER's Sheffield office had told her that pay rates had been capped at pound;110 a day.
She said: "I'm just amazed. With all my years of training and experience, I've now been told that I'm going to be on pound;60 a week less."
Chris Savage, administrator at Hartley Brook primary, Sheffield, who described herself as Capita's best customer in the city, said: "Their rates (to schools) are pound;156. They went up from pound;148 in the spring, and haven't changed since then. They would have told me if there had been any change."
The head of a Sheffield primary, who did not want to be named, said she had asked CapitaER's local office last week whether its charges for schools, for teachers on point nine, had been modified since the takeover.
She says that she was told that the pound;156 remained the same."I think it's a bit harsh on teachers if they are effectively being given a pay cut, but the company is charging the schools the same amount."
Ray Mercer, director of Capita Education Resourcing, said that because of competitive pressures the company had been reviewing its rates.
He added: "Capita Education Resourcing rates for teachers on their books continue to be consistently higher than their competitors."
The head of a successful Sheffield secondary said 21 of his A-level information technology students were without a teacher for seven weeks in the run-up to their exams this spring after the school had found it impossible to obtain cover for its head of department, who had contracted pneumonia.
And a teacher who left a Derbyshire primary school which recently came out of special measures said it was not unusual to have 50 pupils in a class because supply teachers were unwilling to cover for teacher absences there.
Last week, unions welcomed The TES's call for a "Bill of Rights" for supply teachers, after a survey revealed that their pay varied by as much as pound;45 a day between the agencies.