Schools have spent nearly three-quarters of a billion pounds on teacher supply agencies owing to staff shortages, classroom leaders have warned.
According to the NUT, schools in England were forced to pay £733 million to supply agencies last year, leading the union to claim such companies were making “huge profits” out of the recruitment crisis.
A survey undertaken by the union shows that supply teachers are often paid less by agencies and are not entitled to sick pay, maternity pay or teacher pensions.
The NUT claims the money that should be spent on children’s education and not on companies’ profits.
General secretary Christine Blower 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 that 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.”
The survey was published to coincide with the launch of a new teacher recruitment drive by the Department for Education, which states that 35,000 trainees need to be recruited each year.
The NUT’s campaign was backed by the shadow education secretary Lucy Powell, who said schools were becoming increasingly “desperate” to fill their roles in the face of growing teacher shortages.
“With the Institute for Fiscal Studies 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 that is threatening standards,” Ms Powell said.
Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), said the claims made by the NUT about supply agencies were “unsubtantiated and unfair”.
“It is extremely disappointing to hear unfair, unsubstantiated and inaccurate claims being made against agencies that provide supply teachers to schools,” Kate Shoesmith, head of policy at the REC, said. “Supply teachers and the agencies that place them work incredibly hard to provide a vital service. Schools are finding it difficult to fill vacancies and rely on their recruitment partners to bring in quality teachers, often at very short notice.”
The parent company of TES – TESGlobal – owns teacher supply agency Vision for Education