EXCL Education Secretary Gavin Williamson urged to provide supply teachers with employment 'safety net' amid coronavirus job crisis
Gavin Williamson has been urged to provide clarity for supply teachers impacted by school closures
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has been urged to provide a "safety net" for supply teachers impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Layla Moran warned many supply teachers were "fearing for their futures" after school closures left them out of work.
In a letter to the Education Secretary, Ms Moran said that while some were employed directly by schools, many supply staff working for agencies or on zero-hour contracts had been left unsure whether they would be able to access the Government's job retention scheme during the lockdown.
Under the scheme, the Government agrees to pay 80% of the salary of workers put on furlough by their bosses, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
"I am writing to you to urge you to publish an open letter, and employment guidance, to supply teachers as a priority regarding Covid-19 and its impact on them," Ms Moran wrote.
"Whilst some supply teachers are employed directly by schools and local authorities, many more work for agencies or are employed by umbrella companies, with a significant number on zero-hours contracts.
"Supply teachers are a crucial and valued part of our education system, and we must ensure they are treated as such as the COVID-19 crisis continues."
The Lib Dem MP also urged ministers to consider using supply teachers to fill vacanies in schools which have remained open to provide childcare for key worker families.
She added: "It strikes me that a scheme to match out-of-work supply teachers with schools in need of support in order to cater for key workers' and vulnerable children benefits both our education system and the teachers themselves."
Meanwhile, Chris Keates, acting General Secretary of teacher's union NASUWT, said supply teachers were "ready and willing" to work in schools during the pandemic.
"The NASUWT has raised directly with the Secretary of State the need to address the plight of supply teachers. More clarity is needed on how supply agenices can access the job retention scheme for those teachers registered with them," he said.
"Supply teachers are a vitalpart of the school workforce and many are ready and willing to play their part in supporting the work of schools in responding to the COVID-19 emergency."
A Department for Education spokesperson, said: "We know that this is an extremely challenging time for everyone - and many people will be concerned about their job security over the coming months.
"The government is doing everything it can to support workers, including employed and self-employed supply teachers, through grants to cover 80% of employees' salaries and the Self-employment Income Support Scheme announced by the Chancellor last week."