Rise in school support staff taking classes is no surprise

According to a survey conducted by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), up to 78% of school staff said that they’re having to stand in for qualified teachers – on top of covering their existing demands – due to budget cuts. This represents a 14% increase year-on-year.

The survey, which polled 1,000 members working as support staff, found the majority are being asked to take on responsibilities normally held by teachers, as the country faces a shortage of teaching staff.

Commenting on the data, Baljinder Kuller, who has over 15 years’ experience in education recruitment, and is now managing director of online supply teacher portal, The Supply Register, said, “At a time when budget cuts and talent shortages are close to crippling the education sector, it is no surprise that schools are calling on teaching assistants and librarians to ensure that classes are covered.

“The fact that this practice has increased year-on-year can no doubt be attributed to the rising costs typically associated with bringing on board supply teachers. The crux of the matter is that, for many UK schools, it is simply too expensive to replace staff who leave by hiring short-term supply teachers. Schools in England often spend over £800 million on supply staff annually.

“Education leaders who fear they may be jeopardising pupil attainment by using support staff to plug teacher shortages may benefit from reviewing their current recruitment processes to bring on board suitably qualified staff without blowing the budget. For example, by creating a local bank of supply staff, perhaps in conjunction with other local schools, reviewing their careers page to attract candidates directly or negotiating with their current agency on price.”

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