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'Rising stress' of supply teachers

There is "a worrying rise in stress and drop in morale" among supply teachers, the head of the UK's largest teachers' union has claimed.

Supply teachers who were questioned at an NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers) seminar at the Warwick Conference Centre complain of being routinely denied the pay, training and support.

The NASUWT found that 69% of supply teachers had seriously considered leaving the teaching profession in the last year while 45% said their health and well being had suffered because of their work in the past year.

The NASUWT found that 82% of delegates had faced some problems getting work while 20% said they usually have problems or can never find work.

They also found that 48% of supply teachers are paid between £75 and £120 per day. The NASUWT argue that since 62% had said they had been working as a supply teacher for more than 10 years this indicates many are likely to be being paid at a level which is not commensurate with their experience.

The union is lobbying MPs, calling for greater regulation of umbrella companies, which some supply agencies are using to exploit supply teachers and avoid paying tax and National Insurance.

They believe that introducing a kite mark for supply agencies may also help to tackle some of the problems.

A recent NASUWT survey of 1,500 supply teachers found that 65% had been asked to sign contracts with offshore umbrella companies which deny supply teachers their basic legal rights and entitlements.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: "Supply teaching is, by its very nature, often an isolating job but these figures show a worrying rise in stress and drop in morale.

"Supply teachers provide a vital resource to schools but all too often they are being exploited, often by unscrupulous supply agencies.

"Supply teachers are often unable to speak out about their treatment by some of these unscrupulous supply agencies due to threats of 'blacklisting'. "

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