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Suffolk: schools spent over £9 million on supply teachers last year

PUBLISHED: 14:00 12 October 2013

Over £9 million spent on supply teachers by Suffolk schools last year

Over £9 million spent on supply teachers by Suffolk schools last year

Schools in Suffolk spent over £9 million pounds on supply teachers last year, new figures have revealed.

Details released through a Freedom of Information request to Suffolk County Council show that between April 2012 and March 2013 the county’s primary and secondary schools spent £8,908,310.

When combined with the sum for special schools and pupil referral units the total reaches £9,314,365.

Primary schools were the most dependent on supply teachers, spending over £5.5m in one year. A total of 28 primaries spent more than £20,000.

The minimum salary for a qualified teacher in England and Wales is £21,804.

The highest spend in the primary sector came from Cliff Lane Primary School in Ipswich at £84,437.

Headteacher at Cliff Lane, Jane Needle, cited a number of exceptional factors which she said drove up the bill for supply teachers.

“Unfortunately last year we had a member of staff taken poorly in January and she was off on long term sick leave until the end of April, beginning of May. So that will have contributed a great deal to that. Then during the spring term the school had a terrible norovirus outbreak which wiped out a number of staff for a time.”

Mrs Needle added: “Also into that supply we count the one-to-one support teachers for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.”

By comparison secondary schools spent £3,334,707 on supply teachers, with 15 spending more than £20,000.

Two secondary schools spent more than £100,000 each on supply teachers last year.

Stowmarket High School spent £108,981, while Chantry High School & Sixth Form spent £103,652.

Keith Penn, head at Stowmarket High, said supply teachers were often used by schools to cover long term absences such as maternity leave, or if a teacher left at short notice and a replacement was needed quickly.

“Our spending on supply teachers for the specific purpose of covering teachers absent through sickness is significantly lower than that, absence is nothing like that high,” he said. “But we do stick to our commitment to use fully qualified teachers in those circumstances.”

Since last year Chantry High School and Sixth Form has become an academy called Suffolk New Academy.

Headteacher Andrew Fell said: “The actual supply costs quoted as £103,652 do not reflect accurately the actual costs of supply teachers for covering illness and staff absence.”

Graham White, the secretary of Suffolk NUT, said it was “preferable” to use supply teachers rather than cover supervisors, teaching assistants or higher level teaching assistants.

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