London Metropolitan University Research Institutes


Permanent supply teachers in Scotland

Funded by:

the Scottish Executive Education Department


June 2003 - April 2004

The project arose out of research carried out for the Scottish Executive in 2002-3 focusing on the management of supply cover in the teaching profession (Menter, Holligan, Hutchings and Seagraves, 2004a, 2004b). This showed that many schools were experiencing difficulty in obtaining the supply cover that they needed, and that this was seen as having a negative effect on pupil behaviour and achievement. Many school managers suggested that a helpful way forward would be to employ many more permanent supply staff who would work in clusters of schools. Following the findings and recommendations of our previous research, this project investigated current practice in those areas where permanent staff are already deployed in this way, and evaluating how effective these systems are for both schools and supply teachers. The findings should inform both the Scottish Executive and education authorities about the advantages and disadvantages of deploying supply teachers through a cluster system, and of the different strategies used in managing such systems.

The research combined quantitative and qualitative approaches: we carried out surveys of permanent supply teachers working in clusters of schools, and of the headteachers of the schools they work in. In addition we interviewed headteachers and supply teachers in three clusters of schools, as well as relevant staff in education authorities using this approach to the management of supply cover.


Project team:

Merryn Hutchings
Ian Menter, University of Glasgow
Heather Mendick


Merryn Hutchings -


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