Supplying education

22 Jan

At times you wonder if the people making decisions, which affect, our lives actually know anything about the subject in question? If they do, do they actually see the bigger picture?

Yes, we’re on the subject of education again. You might want to look at Shuggy’s Blog. He makes a good job of laying out the problems and issues relating to Supply Teaching. You will be aware that supply teachers are now paid at the rate of £70.00 per day. That’s pretty much unskilled labour rates. It doesn’t sound like the remuneration that you expect a teacher, who may be responsible for your child, to receive.

I’d like to expand this however. Supply teachers are required when a teacher is away from school which might be for meetings, training, exam development or illness.

If teachers have to go to meetings, training or exam/curriculum/course development it’s not always going to be the case that these can be held after school and also fit within timetabled out of class time. This means there is always going to be a need for that sort of cover. There are probably ways in which this could be reduced however, better planning in schools, appropriate short-term availability of additional staff, Heidies, Depute and Assistant Heidies and/or part-time or job sharing teachers helping out. But there will always be a supply teacher need, even if reduced significantly.

Illness is another issue altogether. Teachers are subjected to any bugs, flu, colds; you name it stuff as they deal with upwards of ten children whilst mixing with many more during a normal school day. That’s unavoidable and results in potentially more time off, but of course there are other factors to consider.

Children shouldn’t really go to school with any sort of infectious condition. If they do they may spread it to other children and of course schoolteachers and staff. If a child takes ill during a school day the parents are advised to keep them off for 48 hours at least. In many cases however, childcare is either too difficult to arrange or too expensive meaning children go to school when they are ill and go back more quickly than they should. Teachers get ill. Some are off for stress, illness or injury whilst a percentage may be swinging the lead as other members of the population do at times.

These are just a small number of issues, which may require supply teachers to be employed. In a lot of cases supply teachers may not be able to put together meaningful lessons or may not be familiar with the subject or confident enough. These situations are the responsibility of senior teaching staff to ensure supply teachers are effective. If they are not, the school will not use them again, providing a level of quality control.

The supply teaching service should be a useful tool for schools to gain access to experienced teachers who have cut their hours or provide an opportunity for newly qualified teachers to gain further experience and teaching practice. It is also of benefit to those teachers who wish to reduce their hours but who, under the current system cannot do so for financial reasons.

The big question is why would the EIS agree to such poor levels of remuneration? There is no merit in saying that supply teachers do not offer the same standard of education as full time teachers. Teaching is not just about teaching it’s about maintaining discipline in class and ensuring the classroom environment is safe and remains so. Again the schools could develop lesson content, which would be used when supply teachers were required and ensure the supply teacher being used is appropriately knowledgable.

I’m assuming that the £70.00 per day rate was negotiated on the basis that the savings from the previously set rate would be used to provide part of the 1% pay increase for full-time teachers. It doesn’t sound as if it has been thought out particularly well.

This leaves education poorer than before. Teachers aren’t going to go to work for £70.00 per day, or rather good teachers aren’t. There is also a human element to this. Local authorities are forever singing the praises of maintaining services in-house as it saves jobs and ensures a better remuneration for workers. Will the councils take the moral view on this and pay more? I doubt it.

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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Education, Politics


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