Schools in England paid £733 million to supply teacher agencies last year. Agencies make huge profits from state funding for schools, yet an NUT survey in June 2015 showed that many supply teachers are paid less by agencies than they were three years ago and are not entitled to sick pay, maternity pay or teachers’ pensions.
Agencies also often require supply teachers to be paid via “umbrella companies”, in many cases based offshore, and charge schools substantial fees if they wish to appoint a supply teacher to a permanent teaching post.
Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“Supply teacher agencies are making millions while supply teachers’ pay continues to plummet. Schools are being charged huge fees by agencies, but this is money which should be used for children’s education, not going towards boosting the profits of private companies. The NUT is calling for new systems for sourcing supply teachers, which would save schools money while paying supply teachers fairly as well.”
Lucy Powell MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said:
“Supply teachers play an important role in our education system. However, we are seeing a teacher shortage crisis in our schools which means that head teachers are turning to agencies in desperation to fill the gap. With the IFS predicting that school budgets will fall per pupil for the first time since the mid-1990s, Ministers need to take real action to recruit and retain teachers in sufficient numbers to tackle the crisis in schools which is threatening standards.”
Caroline Lucas MP of the Green Party said:
“Supply teachers are a crucial part of our school system – stepping in when needed to ensure that children get the education they deserve. It is, therefore, deeply concerning that the hard work of supply teachers is being undermined by these profiteering agencies charging outrageous fees.
“The schools budget should be spent on improving children’s education and providing all teachers with fair pay and conditions – not lining the pockets of shareholders in these agencies. I support the NUT’s call for a public and efficient system for sourcing supply teachers.”