Substitute Teacher Cover Cost £66 Million
Date: 25 November 2010
Reference: PAC 03/10/11
Substitute teacher cover costs have escalated in a decade. A report entitled ‘The Management of Substitution Cover for Teachers: Follow-up Report’ , published today by the Assembly Public Accounts Committee, shows that the costs have soared from £38 million in 2000-01 to £66 million in 2008-09.
Speaking at the launch of the Report, Paul Maskey MLA, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee said: “The Committee understands that substitution cover is a normal and unavoidable part of school management. However, this level of spending is clearly unacceptable. Our review has found that this expenditure could, with the right initiatives in place, release much needed funds for other pressing needs within education.
Also, the Committee was extremely unhappy with how schools record the reasons they need substitute cover. There is no standard method of recording; this makes it difficult to analyse the data across the sector. A £1.1 million payroll system, planned for implementation in 2005, is still not fully meeting the management information needs of all schools, and this has hindered the ability of the Department and the schools sector to properly manage the demand for substitution cover.”
The report also looked into the issue of re-employing teachers who retired early, in preference to newly qualified teachers, when substitute cover is needed. This issue was flagged up to the Westminster PAC in 2002-03 by the Comptroller and Auditor General, with assurances given by the Department to reduce the days worked by prematurely retired teachers. The current report found that, contrary to these undertakings, such employment had actually increased over the time.