Vital teaching funds lost to supply agencies | Letters

Are parents aware that supply teaching has been outsourced, asks Doreen Worthington. And Neil Macehiter questions the Department for Education’s cost-cutting measures

A major drain on resources not mentioned in your report (Thousands of headteachers rally against damaging school cuts, 29 September) is the growth of the gig economy in the education sector. How many parents know what happens when their child’s teacher is absent from class? A good head wants a qualified and experienced supply teacher and pays the going rate to ensure that the children’s education is disrupted as little as possible. But are parents aware that supply teaching has been outsourced to a multitude of agencies who then use “umbrella companies” to manage the financial arrangements, taking, as their share, over half of what schools pay?

This abuse of taxpayers’ money is apparently not illegal; the teaching unions say it is unethical and teachers should avoid umbrella companies, but with the cuts to local authority budgets, there is almost nowhere else to turn to find teaching posts. More and more lessons are being covered by inexperienced teachers, teaching assistants or unqualified cover supervisors. Is this what parents want for their children?

These agencies and umbrella companies are making enormous profits from school budgets – money that has come from taxpayers and should be spent on our children’s education. If all heads agreed not to use agencies, but to pay their teachers directly and fairly, in line with their professional qualifications and experience, everyone would benefit – schools, teachers and children. This is how the system used to work and still works in Northern Ireland. Come on, headteachers – make yourselves heard: stand up for the children in your care and protect them from the worst excesses of this failing capitalist society.
Doreen Worthington

• The response of the Department for Education to the real-term reduction in spending per pupil of 8% since 2009-10 is woeful. While “helping them to reduce the £10bn spent each year on non-staffing costs” will provide some respite to cash-strapped schools, reducing the costs of printers and energy supplies is either naive or deliberately misleading. Looking after the printer pennies will not mean that funding pounds per pupil will look after themselves.
Neil Macehiter
Great Shelford, Cambridgeshire

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