As reported by BBC Wales, a report issued from the Wales Audit Office is highly critical of the way in which Local Authorities and the Welsh Labour Government monitor and evaluate supply cover in our schools.
The drive to improve standards of teaching and learning in our schools is one we are all keen to see accelerated - the Welsh Labour Government are letting our young people down whilst Wales continues to linger behind other countries with regards to educational achievement.
If we are to ensure progress then it is essential that all aspects of education are looked at, and everyone who stands in front of a class knows what is expected of them. With close to ten per cent of all lessons being covered by supply staff, this is a significant proportion of students' education, and the Welsh Labour Government needs to issue guidance to ensure standards are maintained during these periods.
Effective monitoring of the effect this is having on education attainment is essential, and as the report suggests supply teachers need to be supported to enable them to perform to the best of their ability.
It is inevitable that there will be occasions when short term cover is necessary, whether to cover illness or absence for other reasons such as training, but all schools need to be encouraged to have adequate plans in place to ensure that students' education does not suffer.
The report does not suggest that supply teachers are in any way less able than permanent employees, but that in many cases they do not get adequate support and are not given information they need to help them get the best from students.
There are examples of good practice in schools across RCT and indeed Wales but that needs to be identified and shared.
RCT Welsh Liberal Democrat Campaign Manager
Brief summary of report findings:
• Expenditure on supply cover is rising and learner progress is being hampered by increasing number of lessons being covered. Maintained schools spent approximately £54m on supply staff 2011 - 12. Need to address sickness absence - average of 7 days sickness per year in Wales compares to 4.5 in England.
• Cover arrangements not managed well enough to ensure learners make good progress and are safeguarded. Much short term cover provided by staff who are not qualified teachers. On average just under 10% of lessons are covered.
• Welsh Gov & Local Authorities do not take sufficient account of the impact of teachers' absence in their measures to help schools achieve improved outcomes for learners. Government's policies for school improvement do not recognise extent to which classes are covered or the needs of supply teachers.
• Whilst there is no evidence that supply teachers are of a lower ability than permanent staff there is a risk that learners will not progress sufficiently in covered lessons partly because the quality of teaching or impact on progress is not monitored.
• Resources spent on supply cover are not always managed effectively or monitored by schools or Local Authorities. Welsh Government 7 local Authorities should put policies in place to evaluate impact of cover arrangements.
• Schools need to provide greater support to supply staff eg lesson plans, access to IT systems.
As reported by BBC Wales
A report issued