Supply teachers – still second class citizens?

25 Jul

By Deborah Simpson, Director of Legal and Member Services, for Your Voice, August 2017 

At a time of ever-increasing difficulty – we say crisis – in recruiting teachers, many schools rely heavily on supply and agency staff to fill the gaps.  Supply teachers are therefore an essential part of the school workforce, but all too often they express concern at the difficulties they face.

Supply members will no doubt identify with some, if not all, of the following issues (not an exhaustive list):

  • having to work through agencies and not being rewarded fairly whilst schools pay out hundreds of pounds to the agency;
  • being expected to sign suspect (and sometimes illegal) contracts with supply agencies and offshore umbrella companies;
  • feeling forced to sign up to ‘exclusivity’ clauses with supply agencies;
  • feeling that they are not treated the same as permanent staff, and in some cases being denied access to basic staff facilities;
  • lack of access to CPD (Continuing Professional Development) and further training;
  • lack of access to correct disciplinary or capability procedures when something goes wrong (schools often just refuse to use the teacher rather than investigate the matter properly);
  • being unaware of legislation that is in place to protect agency workers; and
  • in some areas, difficulty in finding work because classes are being covered, long term, by unqualified staff in order to save money.

In our discussions with government and with agency employer organisations, Voice puts these contractual and other issues at the heart of what we are seeking to achieve. All teachers should be employed and paid in a way that is fair and commensurate with their experience.

Putting pupils first

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), a professional body for the UK recruitment industry, including supply teacher agencies, with which Voice has a good professional working relationship, has updated its guidance. Putting pupils first: the essential guide to safeguarding and good recruitment practice, produced in consultation with Voice, provides an overview of safeguarding requirements, employment regulations and hiring trends that schools should be aware of when hiring temporary and permanent staff.

Your views

Do let us know your views and experiences…


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3 Responses to “Supply teachers – still second class citizens?”

  1. Wesley Paxton 08. Aug, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

    Hello, I cannot understand why anyone would choose to work via an agency or why a school or college would choose to use one. When I worked in FE we had our own very long list of part time lecturers many of whom could be phoned at fairly short notice to cover absence etc. They were all paid the same rate that we all got when we worked extrra hours, no agency got a cut. Why a school cannot keep its own list of “supply”/part time teachers as we did is seldom explained. If recruiting is so hard, why are supply teachers seemingly content to have irregular earnings rather than queing up to apply for all these unfilled full time jobs?

  2. Stephanie Dewitt 10. Aug, 2017 at 9:49 am #

    I could relate many horror stories about being a supply teacher! However, you haven’t mentioned that, working for an agency, you are not paying into a pension (perhaps it’s changed now?). Having taught for nearly 40 years I retired with a teaching pension of £6000.

  3. Richard Fraser 12. Oct, 2017 at 10:09 am #

    “Supply teachers ‘quitting over low pay'” (BBC Wales news)

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