Representatives at the Annual Conference of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, have called for an end to the exploitation of supply teachers by unregulated, unscrupulous agencies.

Reports are increasing of dubious employment and tax avoidance practices, denying supply teachers appropriate pay, conditions of service and access to professional development.

Participants in an NASUWT supply teachers seminar last month reported being asked to sign contracts with tax-avoiding umbrella companies or face the prospect of being denied access to work.

In addition, a recent NASUWT survey of 900 supply teachers found that:

a significant minority are not paid according to their levels of experience;
many have been asked to carry out roles that do not accord with their skills and experience as teachers;
almost half are not able to access their employment rights or afforded the protections of the EU Agency Workers’ Directive;
most are not supported in their roles and do not have access to continuing professional development (CPD) or to mentoring or support arrangements; and
most are often asked to cover the lessons of more difficult pupils and are often not given appropriate access to behaviour support systems.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“It’s apparent that supply teachers are the victims of grossly unacceptable employment practices.

“They are being denied their basic entitlements and rights.

“This is particularly worrying when a high proportion of supply teachers are newly qualified teachers who have been unable to secure a permanent post.

“Supply teaching can be a lonely job and these practices leave these teachers who provide a vital service for schools even more isolated.

“Supply teachers are often disempowered and unable to complain because of threats that if they do so, no more work will be put their way and they will be ‘blacklisted’.

“This is compounded by the increasing number of agencies requiring supply teachers to sign gagging clauses.

“Supply teachers are yet another group of ordinary working people who are the victims of this Government’s failure to enforce decent employment practices and support employers in putting profit before people.”

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