The lack of science teachers and cover staff is known (Reason, 2017). Consequently, the demand for supply teachers qualified to teach science is high. To fully understand the complexity of this situation there are various additional factors to consider beyond the simple number of vacancies and available staff to offer supply.
- The variable quality of supply staff compounded by the possible absence of in school CPD (continual professional development).
- The variable quality of induction programmes which supply staff receive when starting at a new school resulting in unsatisfactory outcomes for the school and / or supply teacher and / or the students, during the supply period.
- The perception that supply teachers are “second rate” teachers unable to obtain and permanent position, rather than specialist teachers able to rapidly adapt to changing circumstances (students, room layouts, exam specifications and behaviour and marking policies to name a few).
A possible solution would be to introduce a professional recognition for scientific supply staff in the form of an award, similar to Registered Scientist (RSci) or Chartered Science Teacher (CSciTeach).
Reason, S. (2017), Education in Science, 267, p3.