A Plaid Cymru Welsh Government would improve conditions for supply teachers in order to drive up standards – that was a message from Simon Thomas.
During a debate in the National Assembly on a committee report on supply teachers, Shadow Education Minister for the Party of Wales, Simon Thomas demanded action.
The number of private supply teacher agencies had increased threefold since 2000.
Plaid Cymru’s Mid and West AM Simon Thomas said: “I believe the marketisation of the industry fails to help improve education standards. Teachers, parents and governors have raised their concerns with me about the issue. One thing that would encourage more children to go to school according to a group from the Prince’s Trust was to stop utilising substitute teachers.
“The Party of Wales has called for the Welsh Government to set up a national co-operative for supply teachers to ensure the money that is spent by schools and local councils stays in Wales. Now this cross party committee recommends a new system to improve conditions for supply teachers.
“The National Assembly’s Children Young People and Education committee report supports the call from Plaid Cymru to help supply teachers, rather than line the pockets of private teaching agencies.
“We have called for mandatory Continuous Professional Development for all teachers, including supply teachers.
“The fact that the Welsh Government has refused to take responsibility for the training requirements of supply teachers lets down pupils in the classroom as well as the education workforce.
“Wales needs a new government to end Labour’s legacy of failure. People are crying out for competent leadership so we can give our young people the best start in life.”
The Children, Young People and Education Committee’s report found that supply teachers are used heavily in schools ‘on both a planned and unplanned basis.” There is a higher than average use of supply teachers in disadvantaged areas.
The most common reasons for schools to use supply teachers was to cover sickness absence (41%) or for permanent teachers to undertake professional development (32.9%).
Concerns were raised with the committee about the complexity of arrangements for supply cover, with variation between schools, local authorities and regions. Reductions in school budgets have led to supply teachers being required to teach classes outside their trained areas of expertise.
The Committee discovered ‘many of the issues identified could be ameliorated if there were closer arrangements between the employers of supply teachers and those with responsibility for providing school education, for example, cluster arrangements operated by local authorities or a national body.”