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More than £5m spent on Sandwell school staff cover

Sandwell | News | Published:

Schools in Sandwell have spent more than £5.2million employing agency staff during 12 months, new figures reveal.

Casual workers are brought in to cover sickness absences and maternity leave to ensure pupils do not have to miss any lessons.

Money can also been spent on bringing in additional teaching specialists and coaches for some subjects or year groups.

While agency staff are commonly also drafted in to help with exams, such as supervisors, and recruitment.

The total bill for the 2014/15 financial year was £5,212,275,which was up from £4,827,259 in 2013/14.

The figures, revealed under the Freedom of Information Act, do not include academies, which run independently, but relate to primary schools, secondary schools and special schools.

Sandwell Council does not get involved in school finances as each school controls their own budget and decides on any additional staff they need to bring in.

A total of £3,957,236 was spent by the borough's primaries, £771,550 by secondaries and £483,489 by special schools.

The amount spent per school between April 2014 – March 2015 ranged from £338 to £331,179.64.

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Around 80 primary, five secondary, and four special schools paid to use agency staff during the 12 months.

The borough's education chief Councillor Simon Hackett today said: "We do encourage schools to appoint full-time, permanent staff members where possible.

"But ultimately, schools manage their own budgets and make their own decisions on employing staff."

Among the biggest spending primary schools were Uplands Manor in Smethwick where the bill was £240,087.81 and Galton Valley, also in Smethwick, which paid out £157,760.86, Yew Tree spent £141,790.70 and Guns Village in West Bromwich spent £123,941.74.

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While out of secondary schools, the biggest bills were at Holly Lodge High School in Smethwick which spent £331,179.64 in 12 months and Stuart Bathurst RC High in Wednesbury which paid out £169,383.60.

Elsewhere in the Black Country, a total of £2.14m was spent across the Dudley borough since the beginning of the school year.

More than 75 schools in Dudley have paid to use agency staff since September.

The biggest bill for agency staff was at the Thorns Community College in Brierley Hill, which spent £152,000.

During the same six month period, more than £1.6 million was spent on agency staff at schools across Walsall.

In Wolverhampton more than £1 million was spent on agency staff in primary schools over the last academic year.

Wolverhampton council spent almost £600,000 with just three agencies, while the biggest expense on any single school was £71,000.

Council bosses say the staff are necessary to cover temporary absences.

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