Leeds supply teachers cash row

Lawnswood School.

Lawnswood School.

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Education chiefs in Leeds have hit out at claims they are wasting millions of pounds every year on supply teachers.

National statistics, which go into precise detail as to how schools in the UK allocate money, show that last year some £293 million was spent providing cover for absent teachers.

In Leeds, around £4.3million of the education budget went on making sure that classrooms were properly staffed during 2009/10

Members of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, which campaigns nationally on a range of issues for lower taxation, say the cash could be better spent.

Research director John O’Connell, who carried out their analysis of the Government statistics, claims children are being let down by the over-reliance on supply staff.

He said: “There is no suggestion that supply teachers are not committed or talented but many parents are understandably concerned when their children’s classes are taken over by a series of teachers over a sustained period of time.

“The national picture shows that we are not offering a stable teaching environment to our children. And I am glad the Department of Education decided to release this information because it gives parents an opportunity to ask the local authorities exactly why they are spending our money in this way,

“The more information which parents have, the better it is, and we are right to ask this question.

“For too long schools have been restricted by local authorities who have a stranglehold over their budgets.

“They should have more control over where their money goes.”

The DFE figures show that nationally an average of £100,000 per school is spent on providing temporary staff.

In Leeds, the highest spend last year was at Lawnswood School, where £273,720 was paid to supply teachers.

The lowest spend in the city was at Abbey Grange Church of England High School, where just £19,931 went on staff cover.

Campaigners from the Taxpayers’ Alliance are calling for cash to go elsewhere following the publication of new spending figures by the Department of Education.

Nigel Richardson, director of children’s services, said: “The amount spent on supply teachers in Leeds secondary schools in 2009/10 amounts to just 1.9 per cent of our overall schools budget for that year. Maintaining consistent levels of quality teaching is very important.

“The vast majority of teaching staff are permanent but occasionally there are times when it is necessary to employ staff on a temporary basis, for instance to cover sickness, maternity cover and training.”

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