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Southend primary school spent £214,000 on agency staff
5:00am Monday 17th September 2012 in News
A PRIMARY school in Southend has been criticised for spending £214,000 on supply teachers from expensive agencies.
Porters Grange Primary School, in Lancaster Gardens, paid out the money for the last academic year – 2011/12 – while spending just £520 on interim teachers it had recruited itself.
In sharp contrast, 16 other schools in the borough plugged temporary holes in their teaching rosters without resorting to using agencies at all.
Agency staff can be as much as £5,000-a-year more expensive than teachers recruited on regular deals.
The revelation prompted a disgruntled parent to accuse Porters Grange of wasting public money.
Terry Phillips, 38, of Cheltenham Road, Southend, said: “I know schools will have to have supply teachers every now and then because of problems with sickness and other issues. But using an agency rather than recruiting staff yourself is just lazy.
“If it can’t get the staff, it should look at all the other schools that do.”
More than £854,000 was spent on agency teachers by Southend schools during 2011/12.
In comparison, £1.06million was spent on supply teachers recruited by individual schools.
Many schools, such as St Mary’s Primary School, in Prittlewell, Bournes Green Junior School, in Southend, and Chalkwell Hall Infant School, in Westcliffl, were forced to foot five-figure bills for supply staff, but did so without using agencies.
In 2009, the National Association of Headteachers estimated teachers supplied by agencies could cost up to £5,000 per year more than staff recruited under a school’s standard terms.
Porters Grange was the only school to spend more than £100,000 on agency staff, with its outlay comprising nearly a quarter of its total wage bill.
Jane Theadom, Southend Council’s head of school support and preventatitive services, said: “Decisions about the use of supply teachers, including whether to employ directly or via an agency, are matters for school governing bodies.
“There is no council policy regarding this matter, but we always advise employing staff with the necessary skills, knowledge and expertise for their particular school and the needs of the children concerned.”
No one from Porters Grange’s governing body was available for comment.
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