An attempt to regulate agencies that provide supply teachers was made in the Commons this week by Labour MP Margaret Hodge.
Her Ten-Minute Rule Bill has no chance of becoming law, but 161 MPs voted in its favour and 39 voted against. The Bill aimed to ensure that staff recruited by agencies are vetted.
At present, agencies are not registered or regulated. In London, around 70 per cent of supply teachers are found through agencies.
Mrs Hodge recounted cases of unsuitable staff sent to schools by agencies. In Southwark, south London, a woman with recognised mental health problems was sent by an agency to teach a class of adolescents. Her history only came to light when she accused two 14-year-old boys of rape. In another case, a 23-year-old supply teacher in Mitcham, south London, gagged primary schoolchildren with tape.
"Anyone can set themselves up as a supply teacher agency. There is no law to ensure that they carry out essential police, health and background checks on the people they send into our schools to teach our children," Mrs Hodge said.
There are also concerns regarding the potential for exploiting tax loopholes.