In a letter to the Wales TUC, Jeremy Miles, the education minister said:
“Delivering a fairer and more sustainable basis for supply teaching is a priority for me as education minister and for the Welsh Government.”
“Work has been underway for some time to identify how we can reform the current system, including looking at both the legal and financial implications of introducing alternative models.”
At the Wales TUC we want to see supply teachers employed directly by their local council, rather than by private agencies who cream off part of teachers’ fees as profit. The contrast between working for the local council and an agency is stark. Agencies pay a flat rate which takes no account of experience. For example, one teacher saw their pay fall from over £200 a day to around £90 a day. To add insult to injury, the agency would not provide holiday pay either.
I spoke to one teacher in the south Wales Valleys who said that a return to employment on the local authority ‘pool’ would be a real boon to her. She told me:
“If the pool came back it would be fantastic. It’s not just about pay and conditions its about respect and professional pride. The local authority used to call me direct and allocate a school locally. I would go to the same schools on a regular basis. Through the pool the schools would get to know your strengths and allocate work accordingly.
“When employed on the pool your pay level was rightly based on your years of experience as a teacher. Along with the appropriate pay, we also received a contribution towards our pension, which gave us the financial security into the future which all workers should receive.”
“My mother asked ‘why on earth are you willing to work for a pittance?’ She said ‘you should be paid as a qualified professional and for your years of service.’ I explained to her that it’s Hobson’s choice – I either work for the agency at rates which don’t recognise my skills and experience or I don’t work at all”
We have written again to Jeremy Miles to press him to resolve the matter. We’re asking him to make sure that the nation’s supply teachers are paid the salary and pension to which they are entitled and which they deserve.