Agencies are making vast profits out of the crisis in teacher supply with less than a third of the money paid out by schools going to teachers, NASUWT members have been told.
The Union’s Deputy General Secretary, Dr Patrick Roach, attacked market failure and the monopoly that supply agencies have in the system.
This was leading to a situation where supply teachers – around four out of five say the only way to find work is through agencies – were getting a bad deal while agencies were making vast profits.
Speaking at the NASUWT Supply Teachers Consultation Seminar Dr Roach told members: “Because of our campaigning, it is now clearly established that privatised supply agencies are exploiting the recruitment challenges in schools for profit. The market in agency workers in education is big business.”
Dr Roach said out of a total of £1.1 billion spent on supply teachers by maintained schools and academies, just 31% was allocated to supply teachers’ pay.
He told members: “The amount spent by maintained schools on supply teachers for 2016/17 was in excess of £700 million. Of this approximately £520 million went to employment agencies.
“The figure for academy schools for the year ending August 2016 was almost £438 million. Approximately £272 million of this went to supply agencies.
But he said the NASUWT will continue to disrupt and challenge the market in teacher supply and would continue to campaign against finders fees which require schools to pay supply agencies exorbitant sums in order to release a teacher into a permanent job.
Often this means supply teachers miss out on the opportunity to work because schools cannot or will not pay these fees. But because of NASUWT action, the government was now talking about the need to address the issue, Dr Roach added.
Dr Roach praised the work of the Supply Register which was increasing the number of schools and supply teachers it signed up. At the Conference, members were told it had committed to pay teachers in England and Wales the 3.5% pay rise from M1 up to UPS1.
He said: “We should commend the Supply Register for doing the right thing for supply teachers. Nevertheless, we would never suggest that this is a silver bullet.
“We need more than a commitment from some enlightened individual schools or agencies, we need a national regulatory framework that protects all supply teachers, irrespective of whether or not those schools or agencies are signed up to the Supply Register.”
Dr Roach said the NASUWT had secured thousands in of pounds in pay for supply teacher members who had not been getting equal pay rights under the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR).
He told members: “Agency by agency, or one by one, member by member, let me assure you that we will never hesitate about taking on those agencies or employers that seek to deny rights at work or exploit our members.
“You have our commitment that we will not stop in our campaign to ensure government, employers and schools respect, value and reward supply teachers.”