A PERFECT storm is brewing in Scottish schools, which could result in insufficient staffing levels to cover the classes of absent colleagues if the latest offer on pay and conditions is accepted by teachers in an EIS ballot due to close on 4 March.
On the one hand, the practice of paying supply teachers half their full rate at the start of a period of work in one school or class would continue, albeit with that period reduced from the first five days down to the first two.
But on the other hand, there would be restrictions on the amount of time that permanent teachers can be used to provide class cover.
All that comes on top of the current difficulty in recruiting new teachers.
I am on the supply lists in both the primary and secondary sector with a number of local authorities and have found that a lot of work on offer involves just one or two days in each school or class.
The Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers is, therefore, being overly optimistic that its offer will solve the shortage of supply teachers created by a deal brokered two years ago.
I will not quibble, however, over the rejection of a condition that primary colleagues be held responsible for their classes even when they are not teaching them – if this makes it clear that promoted teachers are responsible for providing supply teachers with the necessary resources at the very least at the start of their first day of teaching in any one school.
The current offer is going in the right direction, but teachers should hold out for better terms for everyone.