No easy fix for supply crisis

18th November 2011 at 00:00

Michael Russell seems to think training more teachers will fill the current "shortage" of short-term supply teachers (11 November). It won't.

Anyone who spends the time training for a professional job expects to be paid a professional salary. There is no "shortage" of short-term supply teachers; only a shortage of teachers prepared to work for less than an NQT would be paid.

Do the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers and Cosla think that during a single day of absence, the supply teacher just "child minds" the class or merely supervises a class for whom work has been left? Do they not realise that even if work has been left, the supply teacher needs to be able to:

- understand what and how to use it appropriately;

- check, as the lesson progresses, that individual pupils are understanding and learning; and

- mark and assess the work for the class teacher to pick up and continue, so that pupils make the progress that the Government is so keen they make?

These new arrangements for short-term supply teachers are insulting. We are assured that supply teachers are "valued", that our "professionalism" is "respected". It seems to me that these words have a different definition from the ones I learned and use.

Why should supply teachers be singled out? Who else would accept a pay cut of 46 per cent?

Savings have to be made and we all have to tighten our belts, but that should be across the board - not just one sector taking the brunt.

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