SUPPLY TEACHING AGENCIES: A LONE PROXY TO SOLVING TEACHER SHORTAGE

 
School spending on supply teacher agencies for teachers has increased by 18.5% in the past 4 years. This amounts to a total of £556 million for the last academic year spent just by state schools (excluding academies and free schools). 

The teacher shortage and high rates of drop outs from the teaching profession has forced schools to use supply teacher agencies, who charge agency commissions between 30% to 110%.  Some supply teacher agency charges that schools are forced to pay include introductory fees, hourly fees, day rates and commissions that are charged on top of teacher rates.  Schools and supply teachers are left dissatisfied as public funds spent on agencies could be spent on students and teachers which contribute to measurably improved educational outcomes.

For supply teachers, working with supply teacher agencies is sometimes the only guaranteed way of finding permanent placements. However, most supply teacher agencies employ supply teachers on low flat rates with no entitlement to membership to the teacher’s pension scheme.

Working as a supply teacher can be beneficial for NQT’s for getting valuable experience, giving opportunities to work in different schools and meet new groups of students.  Being able to adapt and work in new environments, seeing how different schools function, and managing new classrooms can help new teachers further develop their professional teaching skills.  For more experienced teachers, it can also a be a great way to have work flexibility and manage their own time and other responsibilities they may have. These advantages are not without a catch though, as high agency fees for finding supply teachers permanent jobs, otherwise known as finder's fees, reduce the salaries which teachers receive from schools. This reality has meant that supply teaching has become less attractive and has potentially aggravated the teacher shortage even further.

For the teacher shortage to be addressed, some deeper systemic changes must happen within teacher recruitment. The first step in these changes should be removing obvious barriers such as oversized supply teaching agency fees. Against the backdrop of educational problems, this problem should not be difficult to solve if proper execution is put in place. Measures such as the deployment of peer to peer technology platforms for schools and supply teachers is a measure Supplied Teacher believes can address this problem. 

If you are a school or supply teacher who would like to know about how Supplied Teacher connects supply teachers and schools in a fairer and more transparent way, read more about us here

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