Covering teachers’ absence: follow up 2023
The Auditor General for Wales, Adrian Crompton, has written to the Senedd’s Public Accounts and Public Administration Committee setting out key findings from his follow-up work on covering teachers’ absence.
The letter concludes that the Welsh Government has taken a range of relevant actions in response to the recommendations made in our November 2020 report. However, some issues remain. Although we have not issued new recommendations, the letter sets out areas we would expect the Welsh Government to monitor and review.
We highlight that data collection has improved, but there remains a lack of data around the extent of teachers’ absences for reasons other than sickness. There is also not much data on the extent to which supply teachers and cover staff take up professional learning opportunities.
We also outline how the Welsh Government has established a new national framework contract for agency staff in education operating from September 2023. In 2022-23, schools and local authorities spent £101 million through the previous contract in 2022-23.
The Welsh Government has also established a new option for schools and local authorities to directly employ supply teachers through a National Supply Pool for Wales which provides access to the teachers’ pension fund, but likely uptake is unknown, and costs will be higher than currently.
There continues to be a shortage of suitable supply cover in some areas, subjects, and Welsh-medium. The overall number of registered supply teachers has fallen by 16.6% from 2020 to 2023.