Supply Teachers Taken for Granted, Reveals Survey

Article excerpt

Byline: By RHODRI CLARK Western Mail

The benefits to schools of supply teachers are being taken for granted, a survey initiated by a Welsh teacher suggests. Su Gillespie from Denbigh decided to survey 100 other supply teachers in North Wales after encountering shortcomings in the job herself.

The results showed that supply teachers had seen a reduction in work, felt they were not being given appropriate professional development, and were often the target of abusive behaviour by pupils.

Her union, the NUT, became interested in her survey after she raised the issue with John Bangs, assistant secretary of the NUT's department for education and equal opportunities.

The NUT used the same questions as in the North Wales survey to canvass the opinions of a further 1,000 supply teachers in Wales and England. The findings were in line with those of Mrs Gillespie's survey.

Almost half the supply teachers who responded reported a decline in work available. They ascribed this to financial constraints, schools employing internal teachers for cover, and - a situation of particular concern to Mrs Gillespie - use of unqualified support staff to cover absences.

'It's the thin end of a wedge really,' said Mrs Gillespie, who works in secondary and junior schools in Conwy, Denbighshire and Flintshire.

'With supply teachers you have continuity of teaching, which staff really do welcome. When the staff return they don't suddenly find that there's been a big gap in the teaching routine. …