London Metropolitan University Research Institutes


The induction of temporary teachers in secondary schools


July 2002 - February 2003

Funded by:

Skillswork Regeneration Partnership

Research Design:

This project arose from a concern about the substantial numbers of temporary teachers filling permanent posts in the LEAs of Bexley, Greenwich, Lewisham, Newham and Tower Hamlets. The steering committee, composed of representatives from Skillswork and from each LEA, was concerned that inadequate induction may result in temporary teachers not making as effective a contribution in schools as they otherwise might have made. The aims of the research were:

  • to investigate how numbers of temporary teachers vary across schools, the subjects they are teaching, and their backgrounds;
  • to gain a picture of existing induction provision in relation to this group;
  • to identify good practice;
  • to investigate perceptions of LEA staff, schools and temporary teachers of how current practices could be developed in order that temporary teachers would be able to make a more effective contribution in schools.

The research design included both qualitative and quantitative strands. A questionnaire was sent to every secondary school in the five participating boroughs. The objectives of the survey were to investigate numbers of temporary teachers, their backgrounds and experience, and the induction provision available at school and LEA levels, as well as perceptions of what was needed to improve current provision. The qualitative strand of the research involved interviews and focus groups to collect data from senior staff in schools and from the temporary teachers themselves, and from relevant staff in all five LEAs.


The numbers of temporary teachers varied considerably across schools, but was generally lower than in the previous year. Schools were also concerned, not only about difficulties in recruiting staff, but about the quality of staff available: a temporary teacher was seen as preferable to a poor quality permanent teacher.

All the schools had induction arrangements for new staff and for NQTs. Temporary teachers are generally offered the same provision as other new staff; only a minority of schools had a programme tailored for this group. The teachers themselves found personalised induction through the head of department to be the most effective, especially if it could take place over a period of time and before the temporary teacher started teaching. Written information was criticised on the grounds that it was either too limited, or too much to wade through. Like the schools and LEAs, teachers believed that they needed support with behaviour management. They also identified differentiation as a particular issue.

The majority of temporary teachers in these five LEAs were overseas-trained. Overseas-trained teachers were seen as having the greatest induction needs, but many also bring considerable strengths and experience to schools. Many overseas-trained teachers were unprepared for the behaviour of pupils in London secondary schools. Schools felt that this group had the greatest induction needs, particularly in relation to the National Curriculum and behaviour management, and said they would welcome additional provision in these areas. To improve induction provision, schools felt that LEAs and supply agencies could play a stronger role. However, the teachers found that induction provided by agencies was of limited value in that it was not focused on the particular context the teacher would be working in.

This report showed that 'temporary teachers' may not be the most useful category to consider in relation to induction provision. The key point emerging seems to be that each teacher has different needs relating to their background and their particular experiences, and these need to be assessed and addressed in relation to the context in which they are now teaching, not only through induction provision, but also through CPD.


Project Team:

Merryn Hutchings
Uvanney Maylor


Merryn Hutchings -


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