Proposed Change to Pay of Short Term Supply Teachers is Not Comprehensive Enough

Laurie Bidwell

5 September 2013


In a bid to head off further shortages of supply teachers, the Scottish Government and local council body, CoSLA have offered a 'pay rise' to supply teachers as part of a pay package which will be offered to teachers.  

Yesterday, Scotland's largest teachers' union, the EIS confirmed that it would ballot all its members on the pay package.

Under a deal imposed in 2011 by the Scottish Government, the daily rate paid to supply teachers for five or fewer days was halved, leaving many schools unable to find supply to cover absences.  

Teachers' Unions report that one in three councils is still struggling.

In Dundee during periods of seasonal illness, many Head Teachers found that there were very few teachers to call on from the supply list.

As a result they were pulled away from their management roles to take classes.

The new agreement will see “short-term supply” redefined, meaning teachers will be paid the full rate after three days, rather than the previous five.

It is also proposed that teachers receiving the lower rate will also be paid ten per cent extra for preparation and correction.

Of course this may just shift the problem with supply teachers avoiding covering teacher absences not likely to be sustained beyond two or three days.

This mess was one of the SNP government's own making.

I warned then that this would lead to difficulties in recruiting short term supply teachers and that it would be the children who suffer as their teachers are run ragged covering for absent teachers.

Unfortunately, I think the SNP led Scottish Government are not making a good job of responding to the rising tide of criticism about the shortage of supply teachers, especially for short term cover.

This proposed change may be an improvement but it does not remove the disincentive for supply teachers to turn down demands for short term supply teaching.

Who would want to work for half pay for up to three days, when there are better offers available for four or more days work?

This is another example of short term cuts and long term damage.