£2m spent on agency staff for schools in Walsall

Almost £2 million was spent on recruiting agency staff for schools in Walsall last year, new figures have revealed.

school pen and binder

Almost £2 million was spent on recruiting agency staff for schools in Walsall last year, new figures have revealed.

The money went on bringing in temporary workers between last September and July this year.

A total of £1.96 million was spent on extra staffing for schools and nurseries, with education bosses saying it was down to sickness absence and maternity cover.

The amount ranged from £166,000 by St Francis of Assisi in Aldridge to just £175 by Sandbank Nursery in Bloxwich. Walsall education chief Councillor Rachel Andrew said: “Schools work hard to ensure children and young people achieve and succeed in their education.

“An important key to this are the school staff who teach and support in lessons.

“Schools will always want to have permanent staff in place but there are times – sickness absence, maternity/paternity cover, training and development opportunities, for example – where schools will use supply cover to make sure that they protect pupils’ learning and achievement.

“Schools will manage their own systems of staff recruitment and, in general terms, secondary schools will have bigger supply bills than primary schools.

“Some schools have contracts with supply agencies and use their own networks to find suitable, qualified, employees.”

It comes after it was revealed earlier this month that Walsall College spent almost £90,000 on recruiting agency workers in the last academic year.

Bosses at the booming £64 million college, which opened in Littleton Street almost three years ago, said bringing in the extra staff was essential to meet the growing demand for course places. An increasing numbers of schools across the borough are becoming academies to take greater control over their own finances.

The £345 million education contract between Walsall Council and private firm Serco is due to be axed by the end of next summer with 400 staff transferring back to the authority. A phased termination is already under way.

Over in Sandwell, supply teachers cost more than £5 million in the past year.

Dudley, meanwhile, spent more than £2.5m in 2010/11 on supply teachers and temporary staff for its 90 schools, and schools in Wolverhampton paid out more than £4.7m.