Annual Supply Teacher Survey

The NASUWT’s annual survey of supply teachers in England and Wales aims to examine the changing experiences of supply teachers, including issues and trends.

The 2019 survey was undertaken between June and July.

A total of 830 supply teachers responded to the survey.

The Report provides the main findings from the 2019 survey of supply teachers and highlights any key developments in comparison with previous surveys.

The survey comprised a range of questions covering the following areas:

  • the nature, access and availability of work;
  • pensions;
  • supply teacher deployment;
  • rates of pay;
  • compliance with legislation; and
  • training and behaviour management support.

The general trends since 2014 are described below and the full Report can be accessed on the right/below.

Trends over the period 2014-19

Nature of work

Supply agencies continue to dominate the market, up by 5% since last year to 88% in 2019. The use of supply agencies by supply teachers has risen by a quarter since 2014 (63%).

The number of local authorities providing work has halved since 2018 from 8% to 4%, whereas the number of schools providing direct employment has decreased a further 4% since 2018 to 18%.

Availability of work

The number of supply teachers who have reported some problems securing work has increased by 3% since 2018 to 61%.

The number of supply teachers able to work either four or five days a week has increased again since the last survey was conducted in 2018, from 32% to 36% respectively.

This is a 10% increase in the last two years.

Welcome to work and access to facilities

Disappointingly, there has been a significant drop in the number of supply teachers reporting that they are made to feel welcome when they enter a school. For example, 31% of supply teachers reported that they are always made to feel welcome by the staff, a decrease of over a quarter (26%) since the 2018 survey.

Coupled with this, there has been a decrease by almost a quarter (24%) in supply teachers reporting that they are always made to feel welcome by the school, down from 61% in 2018 to 37% in 2019.

In addition, the number of supply teachers reporting that they are always made to feel welcome by the students has halved since the 2018 survey from 46% to 23%. Furthermore, the number of supply teachers reporting that they are always made to feel welcome by the parents has decreased from 31% in 2018 to 18% in 2019.

The number of supply teachers reporting that they did not always have access to food and drink facilities has increased from 39% in 2018 to 52%.

In addition, the number saying they did not always have access to car parking has increased by 10% since 2018 to 45% in 2019.

Furthermore, the number of supply teachers reporting that they do not have access to toilet/washroom facilities has increased from 11% in 2018 to 13% in 2019. The number of supply teachers reporting that they do not always have access to staffrooms has increased since 2018 from 19% to 26%.

The number of supply teachers reporting that they are not given clear information on key policies used within schools has increased since the 2018 survey. For example, 43% of supply teachers reported that they are not given clear information on the school’s fire evacuation policy. This is an increase of 12% since 2018.

Rates of pay

With regard to rates of pay for supply teachers, it remains the case that the majority of supply teachers report that they are paid between £100 and £149 per day (68%), an increase of 1% since the 2018 survey.

The percentage of supply teachers who are paid between £51 and £99 per day stayed the same at 40%, whilst the percentage of supply teachers reporting that they are paid between £150 and £199 decreased again from 20% in 2018 to 18% in 2019.

The percentage of supply teachers reporting that they are paid in excess of £200 has doubled since 2018 from 1% to 2% in 2019.

Despite pay increases for other teachers, the majority of supply teachers have not seen their remuneration increase substantially since 2014.

Many qualified supply teachers are still being paid at rates equivalent to unqualified teachers.

Coupled with this, there has been an increase in those supply teachers reporting that they have had to take a second job (up 2% since 2018) or rely on increased use of credit (up 3% since 2018).

There has also been a 5% increase since 2018 on the number of supply teachers reporting that they have had to cut down on expenditure on food.

Conclusion

The 2019 Supply Teacher Survey reveals that the increase in agency working has led to a reduction in the pay, conditions of service and pensions of supply teachers.

Rates of pay have remained stagnant for the overwhelming majority of supply teachers and have therefore failed to keep pace with the rate of inflation and the pay awards recommended by the teachers’ pay review bodies for England and Wales.

Low-paid, insecure and precarious work offered irregularly make it impossible for supply teachers to plan and manage their finances effectively.

As a consequence, more supply teachers report that they find themselves in a precarious financial situation where they have to make tough decisions about their expenditure or rely on the increased use of credit or the generosity of family and friends to make ends meet.

The increased use of agency and casual employment is a key source of stress and anxiety for hard-working and dedicated supply teachers who simply want to do the best by the children and young people they are assigned to teach.

It is also of deep concern to supply teachers that their employment by or through agencies may not constitute reckonable service within the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS), leaving many supply teachers no alternative but to make less favourable pension plans, including reliance on inferior auto-enrolment pension arrangements.

The lack of access to occupational pension provision risks future financial insecurity for supply teachers and the increased risk of reliance on the welfare system in later life.

Given the tendency for supply teachers to disproportionately include women, black and minority ethnic (BME) and disabled teachers, the lack of eligibility of access to the TPS may be regarded as having a discriminatory impact.

Whilst issues of non-compliance, coupled with a lack of transparency, are highlighted in the survey, many supply teachers are also unaware of their employment rights and unsure how to report unfair practices.

Feedback also suggests that where supply teachers do complain about poor practices by agencies, the work ‘dries up’.

Other supply teachers may be reluctant to question unfair practices because of the potentially negative impact this may have for them.

The results from the 2019 survey indicate that action is needed to address the concerns of hard-working and dedicated supply teachers who make an important and significant contribution to the public education system.