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An article by Kay Smith, a fellow supply teacher

Posted by Scottish Supply Teachers on November 15, 2013 at 5:00 PM

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Reply Scottish Supply Teachers
5:13 PM on November 15, 2013 
The whole Article
"NEGOTIATIONS are ongoing regarding pay and conditions for teachers in Scotland.
As employers and unions focus on securing a settlement for the permanent workforce, supply teachers should not be singled out to bear the brunt of ?difficult decisions?.
Previously paid pro rata according to their position on the non-promoted salary scale the last pay deal changed that.
It meant that whilst on supply, all teachers ? many of whom are highly experienced ? are paid at the first rung of a six-point post- probationer scale for their first five days of work in a particular school or with a particular class.
This is based on a 25-hour week, down from a calculation based on a 35-hour week.
This arrangement has zero regard for the reality that the first day or so with a new class are often the toughest for a teacher.
A teacher who has been with one class for one week but is then assigned another class even in the same school the next week, has to go back to square one in the five day count down.
Supply teachers are unlikely to be employed for all of the 190 teaching days of the year. But if they were, under the first five-day 25-hour rule, their salary would amount to no more than £17,100 ? a lot less than the top of scale salary of £34,200 but with a lot more hassle, stress and strain from adjusting constantly to change.
The suggested ?improvement?
to reduce the countdown to three days does nothing to address the underlying injustice of a teacher?s experience being considered irrelevant.
On the reduced daily rate ? amounting to £90 gross ? the additional offer of a 10% increase to be paid if supply teachers make themselves available for marking for a half hour after the end of the school day adds insult to injury. This is particularly the case given that, in secondary schools at least, the supply teacher is routinely given an hour of ?non-contact? time during the school day ? only a half hour of which is paid for.
Bear in mind too that supply work can entail considerable travel without the benefit of the generous car mileage allowances that local authority education managers and councillors enjoy.
Treated very much as ?just? casual workers there is no sick pay nor pay to attend in-service training courses.
Yet at the point of being paid supply teachers are deemed to be employees so have to pay the full rate of national insurance and are unable to set travel expenses against tax bills.
The prevailing mindset appears to be that supply teaching amounts to little more than ?babysitting?.
As a teacher with good qualifications including full GTCS Registration in both primary and secondary education and an award on the Chartered Teacher programme, I would argue that whilst on supply I have to employ high levels of professional skills.
In primary schools I have to be able to walk into a strange classroom, see a way through unfamiliar clutter, a muddle of paperwork and IT equipment connections then instantly deliver a good day?s worth of education based on a slender outline of activities ? one which is rarely attached to readily accessible resources. I have learned to bring my own.
In a secondary school, with its clearly timetabled curriculum, organisation and resources may be less of a challenge but there is a heightened need for good behaviour management skills with pupils who attempt to ?try it on? with the supply teacher.
Such a teacher has to be able to cope with all situations such as I experienced recently in one secondary school, being sent to a room full of pupils but devoid of instructions, with no resources and no colleague on hand to seek clarification. Yet I delivered, I believe, an hour?s worth of an engaging and productive lesson ? at least that was the feedback I got from the pupils.
For conscientious supply teachers the job simply cannot be done, with preparation and marking included over a five day stint, within a five hours day.
As a result they end up working not just for low pay but for no pay.
No wonder their availability for such work is dwindling. And what profession would normally accept paying a worker one rate one day and another the next?
This is penny pinching tinged with a moral bankruptcy in picking on supply teachers as an easy target to make what are, in the context of Scotland?s enormous budget for state education, modest savings.
Any notion that the current shortage of supply teachers is to do with the need to engage more newly qualified teachers ? fresh out of their shelter of a mentored probation year ? and nothing to do with a 50% pay cut is one based neither on evidence, logic nor fairness."
(Kay Smith is a supply teacher who works for a number of local authorities in Scotland.)