Hackney schools blow over £6m on supply teachers in just one year

Hackney schools and nurseries have spent more than £6 million on supply staff in just one school year, new figures show.

A Freedom of Information request to Hackney Learning Trust has revealed that £6,613,965 was spent on supply teachers from September 2013 to July 2014.

Haggerston Secondary School racked up the highest bill, spending £465,536 on supply teachers in just one school year and Lubavitch Senior Girls School, in Stamford Hill, had the lowest spend, paying supply staff just £268.

While the majority of supply teachers were used on a temporary basis, some were recruited to cover long-term absences.

William Patten Primary School spent £70,350 covering staff who had been off work for long periods.

In 2011 to 2012, Hackney’s agency supply staff spend was only £5,406,294, meaning the budget for agency workers has increased by more than one million pounds over the last two years.

Between 2011 and 2014 Benthal Primary School in Hackney Downs increased its supply staff spend by more than 400 per cent, from £35,520 to £209,281.

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Barnet, the second largest London borough with 100,000 more inhabitants than Hackney, spent more than half a million less on supply staff in 2013 to 2014.

But Hackney Learning Trust said it was not responsible for the bill.

A spokesman said: “Schools and the governing bodies control their own budget and they make decisions on how to spend it.

“Hackney Learning Trust advises schools on agencies they can use that meet safeguarding criteria and provide best value.”

Supply teachers are paid a similar wage to permanent staff but do not receive full holiday pay.

The average daily pay for the lowest level of supply teacher in inner London is £138.46, but more experienced teachers can earn up to £230.77, according to the National Union of Teachers.

In a 2002 report school inspector Ofsted claimed that supply teachers “teach a higher proportion of unsatisfactory or poor lessons than permanent teachers.”

Supply teachers may perform poorly because they are unfamiliar with the school, pupils and national curriculum and are expected to teach age groups and subjects they have not been trained for.

Ofsted also noted that the quality of some pupils’ work declined when they were taught by supply teachers because of a lack of continuity and poor behaviour management.

In recent years several struggling Hackney schools have opted out of local authority control and become academies.

Since it joined Best Start Federation, a group of five independent primary schools in Hackney, Whitmore Primary School has been rated “outstanding” by Ofsted, and cut its supply staff budget from £54,425 to £19,606.15.

Three special educational needs (SEN) schools in the borough – Ickburgh, Stormont House and The Garden – collectively spent £609,083.66 on supply teachers.

New Regents College, a pupil referral unit for children permanently excluded from other Hackney schools, spent £280,383.

In May this year The Hackney Learning Trust announced that it would close and rebuild the school after its Nile Street site was deemed “not fit for purpose” - letting go 19 permanent members of staff in the process.