The overall cost to the schools sector of employing supply teachers has jumped £300 million in two years to 1.3 billion, according to an analysis published today by the Labour Party today.
Shadow education secretary Lucy Powell has blamed the growing “recruitment crisis”
– and a failure to recruit enough trainee teachers.
The analysis also found that the average spend on supply in secondaries and free schools has climbed 42 per cent in the past 12 months.
Ms Powell said: “With chronic shortages of teachers in our schools, this Government is risking the education of the next generation. Ministers have mishandled teacher training, putting applicants off and constantly talked down the profession, causing thousands of teachers to quit.
“As a result, half of all schools had unfilled positions at the start of this year and are being forced to turn to unqualified staff, temporary supply teachers, non-specialists and larger class sizes to try to plug the gaps.”
Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, added: “This research again highlights the difficulties school leaders are facing in recruiting and retaining teachers, echoing our own recruitment survey published last week.
“Supply teachers play a crucial role in addressing short-term gaps in teacher numbers, but an increasing number of school leaders are having to rely on them more frequently, and for longer periods than in the past.”
A DfE spokesperson said: “It is completely misleading to suggest there are chronic shortages of teachers or that a record number of teachers have ‘quit’ the profession – our increased spending on supply teachers simply reflects our increased total spending in response to rising pupil numbers.
“The overall teacher vacancy rate is 0.3 per cent and has remained under 1 per cent for the past 15 years.”
And a Conservative Party spokesman added: “Lucy Powell has not had one positive thing to say about England’s schools and teaching profession since she became shadow Education Secretary.
“Despite many opportunities to laud the achievements of teachers and schools across England, which has seen 1.4 million more pupils in good or outstanding schools since 2010, Labour continue to scaremonger.
“Rather than recognise that the number and quality of teachers in our schools is at a record high, they talk down the teaching profession.”
TES Global, the parent company of TES, also owns the Vision for Education supply agency