�1.1million on supply teachers

SECONDARY schools in North Somerset spent more than �1.1million on supply teachers last year to cover teachers’ absence from lessons.

The whopping figure is for the financial year of 2009/10 and showed that, on average, supply teachers cost each of the ten secondary schools in the district �110,000.

This money will come directly out of a school’s set budget but, despite how high it seems, is similar to the national average.

Supply teachers are generally used when teachers take planned absences, for example when there is a school trip or when they are off work for several days.

However, they tend to cost more per day than a regular teacher due to the fact they can only work in term time compared to regular teachers who are paid year round.

Nailsea School headteacher, David New, believes supply teachers are absolutely essential to the running of a school.

He said: “If you have got a member of staff out for a long period I need specialist staff to continue delivering the curriculum at a high level.

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“For short term issues the specialism is less essential and then we try to employ a member of staff who knows the school so there is consistency in teaching.

“Some of the supply cover is for teacher illness but some of it, and a significant part of it at Nailsea School, covers classes when a teacher is running enrichment activities, such as a school trip or a foreign trip.

“Therefore the simplistic answer about supply teacher spending may not be the right one.”

For the financial year of 2009/10, secondary schools spent the following amounts on supply teachers: Clevedon School: �124,032. Gordano School, Portishead: �117,256. Backwell School: �103,621. Nailsea School: �103,594. St Katherine’s School, Pill: �96,726.

The school spending data has been compiled by the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA), a national group that campaigns for lower taxes, which found that across England a total of �293million was spent on supply teachers in secondary schools between 2009/10. Nationally, the average spent per school was just over �100,000.