The NASUWT works at school, local and national level to ensure that the interests of members working as supply teachers are represented effectively and that their particular needs and concerns are reflected in the development of its policy its advice and guidance.
Supply Teachers' Seminar
Unscrupulous practices by supply agencies were under the spotlight at the third supply teachers’ seminar in Birmingham.
Over 100 teachers from across the UK gathered for the event, chaired by Suzanne Nantcurvis, NASUWT Ex-President, to participate in lively discussions on supply teachers’ pay and conditions, the misuse of cover supervisors and what action can be taken to combat poor practices among supply agencies.
In a keynote speech Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT Deputy General Secretary, said that overcoming the “feelings of isolation” for supply teachers was a key concern for the Union. He highlighted the extensive work of the Union so far to support supply teachers in the face of poor agency practice, which could also leave members vulnerable to financial liability. He said: “One third of you rate agencies as unacceptable. Supply teachers often work on a support staff rate while charging schools the full rate for a qualified teacher. Supply agencies hold a powerful position within the sector and many say they are required to sign contracts with umbrella companies that are controlling the market, in some cases ripping off schools and teachers. The NASUWT continues to challenge unscrupulous companies after you give us the information to act.”
Dr Roach urged members to report abuses by supply agencies to NASUWT in order for challenges to be made. In the question and answer session, one member commented that untrained cover supervisors often taught children while parents believed that they were fully qualified teachers. Another said that one supply agency promised better pay and expenses rate but failed to deliver.
Gareth Young, National Official for Campaigns and Communications at NASUWT, delivered a preview of supplyadvisor.co.uk, a new NASUWT-commissioned website due to launch in October, allowing supply teachers to rate and review supply agencies. Members were then shown a short film entitled “Why I am taking strike action” before Wayne Bates, NASUWT, gave a presentation highlighting the Standing Up For Standards campaign.
Darren Northcott, National Official for Education, delivered a critique of the Coalition Government’s curriculum reform highlighting deficiencies in the new programmes of study across many subjects. Mr Northcott said that its “command and control is weakening collegiality in schools”.
Workshops on a range of issues affecting supply teachers took place in the afternoon. These included Managing Pupil Behaviour (Nicola Morgan, NSM Training and Consultancy); Taking Control of Your Professional Development (Jennifer Moses, NASUWT) and pay and conditions for supply teachers (Dave Wilkinson, NASUWT). A ten-person focus group was led by Cliff Mills (Mutuo) and Elaine Shoesmith (Co-operative College) to discuss how supply agencies can work better for teachers.