01 SES 14 B, Professional Development for University Lecturers and Supply Teachers
The term ‘supply teacher’ is used in the UK to define qualified teachers who stand in for classroom teachers who may not be able to teach a class due to absence (short-, medium- or long-term). They are also referred to as ‘substitute teachers’ and across Europe and elsewhere the use of non-permanent teachers is a common way of covering for teacher absence in schools. Supply teachers play an essential role in ensuring the continuity of learning in schools, often enabling teachers to engage in professional learning and development away from their normal classroom situation. Ironically, while a supply teacher may cover for a teacher to attend CPLD, supply teachers themselves are frequently deprived of access to professional learning and development. This research study currently being undertaken in Wales began as a response to pleas from supply teachers for inclusion in CPD programmes being offered in schools, local authorities and Higher Education Institutions in Wales. However, the findings are beginning to show a more complex situation with the take-up of CPD by supply teachers being lower than would be expected from the apparent demand.
The General Teaching Council for Wales’ (GTCW, 2009) 2009 analysis indicates there are slightly more than 5000 supply teachers in Wales - 12.96% of the teaching workforce. In 2002 the figure was higher at 15.1% of the workforce but they have become more visible due to the rise in popularity of Teacher Employment Agencies and teacher shortages in certain areas. However, there are issues surrounding the availability, the cost and the quality of cover offered by some supply teachers. (Hutchings et al 2006 ).
Their profile is wide ranging and includes Newly Qualified Teachers and those in the early years of their career who have not found full time employment, teachers who are returning to work after a break in service, teachers who have taken early retirement and wish to find occasional work, teachers who do not wish to work full time, those who are long term career supply teachers, overseas trained teachers and part time teachers who work as supply on non-timetabled days.
Supply teachers may be seen to be disadvantaged when compared with teachers on full-time contracts as they are, mainly, only paid for the hours worked, have no holiday entitlement, may not contribute to pension plans and may not receive pay when ill. Also as Spratt (1999) and Menter et al (2006) confirmed they do not always benefit from training and development opportunities that full time teachers have access to.
The age profile of supply teachers differs from that of all registered teachers in that, in Wales, proportionately more supply teachers are under the age of 30 (31.9%) or are aged 55 and over(37.1%) (GTCW, 2009). Consistent with this is the picture that the majority of supply teachers either have 5 or less years experience (30.2%) or 26 plus years’ experience (40.6%).
In Wales the vast majority of supply teachers, as with all registered teachers, are female, with greater numbers trained for supply work in the primary sector.
What is clear from these figures is that the diversity within the supply teacher sector makes the mapping of access to CPLD extremely complex. Supply teachers cannot be seen as a coherent group with one set of needs but as a diverse body of professionals who require different strategies and opportunities to fulfil both personal and professional need. There is no such thing as a typical supply teacher.
This paper will examine the current findings of this continuing study.
Barlin D & Hallgarten J (2002) Supply Teachers: symptom of the problem or part of the solution? Management in Education 16. 1. 18-21 Estyn (2013) The Impact of Teacher Absence Cardiff: Estyn GTCW (2009) An analysis of supply teachers in Wales Cardiff: GTCW Hutchings, M., Osgood, J., Allen, K., Maylor, U. and Williams, K. (2009) Scoping manageable and strategic approaches to CPD for supply teachers Institute for Policy Studies in Education London Metropolitan University Spratt J (2001) The Cover Story: A Survey of the Management of Supply Teachers by Scottish Education Authorities. Centre for Educational Research, University of Aberdeen
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