8 Days Remaining

Tuesday 29th
posted by Joana Ramiro in Britain

A SUPPLY teacher cried for help from her union yesterday after finding herself “cornered” by exploitative agencies, headteachers desperate for staff and a difficult job market.

Beverly Lennon, a fluent Welsh-speaking black teacher for more than 20 years, turned to supply work when discrimination and harassment left her unable to teach full-time.

In a moving speech she told her fellow trade unionists on the last day of this year’s Nasuwt conference how supply teachers urgently need to organise themselves and fight declining pay and withering conditions.

Speaking to the Star after her intervention, the former BBC radio Welsh teacher said: “I wanted to go into teaching ever since I was a little girl.”

But with agencies filling up with keen new teachers looking for work and schools hiring anyone to teach what needs to be taught, Ms Lennon started taking up “whatever there is.

“I am not trained in primary, however I’ve been doing primary.

“I’m in this situation whereby I cannot just say I won’t go to that job, because they are just going to take someone younger and they are going to take someone who is cheaper than myself.

“So what do I do? I go and do supply. I have to take whatever there is. It’s very disempowering.”

But the problems are cyclical — pay remains low because schools do not hire supply teachers on upper pay scales and professional progression is out of the question.

She said: “The system can only change, I feel, if the people at the top, the ministers, recognise us.

“I wish they were sitting here today to hear these stories. Because there are more and more teachers leaving the profession.

“You need supply teachers.”