SHEFFIELD schools are spending nearly £4m a year on supply teachers - covering for staff who are away on sick leave or busy preparing lessons.
During the last academic year, primary schools in the city spent £2.8m on cover, secondaries £870,000 and special schools, £110,000, with supply teachers receiving up to £250 a day.
Teaching unions say the huge sum reflects the stresses and pressures of the job. Teachers take more time off sick than any other group in the public sector, and far more than workers in the private sector.
Teacher recruitment is also a problem for some schools, where supply staff have to step in when posts cannot be filled. Unions fears pressures on school budgets mean headteachers are increasingly relying on non-qualified staff to fill in to save money.
A council spokesman said costs of supply cover had risen because some staff had attended national training sessions funded by the Government. “This training ceased at the end of March and we would now expect to see supply costs reduce as a result,” he said.