Fair Pay for Supply Teachers

Teach Scrabble

Supply teachers are the superheroes of education. They swoop in in times of need: when teachers are ill, when teachers leave unexpectedly, or when schools just need an extra pair of hands. They can pick up another teacher’s lesson plan and run with it, or work with no lesson plan at all. Basically, they’re a gift from the Gods. So, why don’t we pay them accordingly?

Supply teachers only see a fraction of their fee.

Schools tend to book supply teachers through agencies. Sure, they could hunt for one directly, but agencies take away the hassle. When a school needs a supply teacher, they likely need one right now, not in a couple of months. Agencies allow schools to get their hands on these superhero supplies pretty damn quickly.  

The problem is, these agencies need to make some money too. They do this by adding between 20% and 40% to the supply teacher’s day rate and pocketing it for themselves. It’s a solid business model, really. There was a time when the agencies filled a gap in the market; schools needed supply teachers and supply teachers needed a platform to get work. This need remains, but the market is now in a place where schools are sometimes paying over the odds for supply teachers and supply teachers are taking home less of their earnings than they should be.

For example:

Let’s say a school pays a day rate of £170 for a supply teacher. If the agency takes 30%, that’s down to £119 already. Now let’s take away NI and PAYE: the supply teacher is left with a daily take-home of around £94. Based on a 190 day working year, that’s a take-home of £17,860.

If we could get rid of that 30%, that would bring a supply teacher’s take-home up to £127 daily and £24,130 yearly (based again on a 190 day working year). That’s a yearly increase of over £6,000 simply by removing agency fees from the equation.  

Changes in regulation.

IR35 is changing. In 2017, new regulation is making it difficult for supply teachers running their own limited companies to work directly by shifting liability from the teacher to the schools. This will push more supply teachers towards working with agencies through an umbrella company (therefore taking home less) or push them towards working full time for a school (which just isn’t what some teachers want to do and some schools won’t offer).

So, what can be done?

If you’re a supply teacher who has avoided agencies by running your own limited company, you’re now being backed into a corner. The changes in regulation are telling you that, if you want to remain a supply teacher, you need to join an agency. The pay cut is coming.

But there is another way.

SupplyTeacher.jobs is a new platform that has launched to connect schools and supply teachers with the aim of cutting out agencies.

Schools will pay a small monthly flat fee to have access to the platform and to our database of local supply teachers. Supply teachers register for free. You will have either be registered with an umbrella company or with a school directly (as you would with an agency), but we don’t take any money out of your pay cheque. It’s all yours to keep. (Except the bit that goes to the tax-man. We can’t do anything about that unfortunately!)

We will strongly encourage our registered schools to pay union rates so that you, as supply teachers, get paid as fairly as we believe you should.

Picture this:

You register for supplyteacher.jobs. We do all the necessary checks (just as you would when registering with an agency) then you’re all good to go. You set your availability and wait for the work to come pouring in.

You get a mobile notification: there’s a week-long contract available in your area and the school has shortlisted you for the role. You open up SupplyTeacher.jobs and provisionally accept (based on your availability, of course). A couple of hours later, your phone buzzes again. The school has chosen you for their supply teacher role; they want you in tomorrow morning.

The week flew by, but now it’s time to send an invoice and get paid. This is the worst part, or at least, it used to be. Now, you simply open up supplyteacher.jobs once again and click send on your auto-generated invoice.

After the contract, the school leaves you some incredible feedback. This not only makes you feel pretty good, but it shows other schools that you’re awesome at what you do. Similarly, you can leave feedback for the school to let other supply teachers know what it’s like to work with them. Were you briefed well? Did they pay you on time? This review function will make sure that both schools and teachers know what they’re getting themselves into before making initial contact or accepting a role.

Sound good?

We’re launching in the Sheffield area in March so head over to SupplyTeacher.jobs to get your name on the list.

Once we’ve launched in Sheffield, we’ll be expanding to other areas in the UK. Pre-register for your area at SupplyTeacher.jobs; the sooner we get a database of teachers in your area, the sooner we can launch.

If you want to find out a little more about SupplyTeacher.jobs then head over to our website.

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