SUPPLY teachers from the UK are being flown in to plug staffing shortages in Jersey schools in yet another sign of a deepening recruitment crisis impacting frontline public services, it has emerged.
Teaching union representative Marina Mauger, from the NASUWT, said she was aware that several teachers from UK agencies were working in Jersey.
She said: ‘We barely have any supply teachers. Those who have been available are fully committed, and so we are needing to bring people in to ensure that children’s education doesn’t suffer, particularly in exam subjects.’
Mrs Mauger said the situation was the latest product of the challenge which the Island was facing when it came to recruiting staff.
‘We’re in an absolute crisis with the cost of living and we aren’t offering the sort of salaries that would attract full-time staff to come here,’ she said.
The high cost of accommodation is one factor cited as a disincentive for potential recruits. It is understood that the temporary supply teachers currently in the Island are being provided with hotel accommodation and are having their transport expenses met.
The JEP has asked the government how many supply teachers from the UK are working in Jersey, the number of schools affected and the cost but had not received a reply at the time of going to print.
Earlier in the autumn term, teaching unions warned that the lack of cover could mean teachers facing classroom sizes of up to 40 pupils – well beyond the Island’s average size of 28 in both primary and secondary schools.
Challenges in recruitment have become a dominant theme in the Island’s news agenda in recent months, with almost no sector immune from the impact of rocketing house prices and a spike in the cost of living.
These factors have made it difficult to attract new recruits, as well as causing some existing staff to leave the Island. Health and social care has also been badly affected, with the Jersey Care Commission warning this week that the lack of care workers was creating ‘potentially catastrophic’ risks.
Lack of capacity in care homes has caused bed-blocking at the General Hospital, which itself has faced a soaring bill for agency doctors to more than £6 million this year.
GP surgeries have also suffered, with the majority of the Island’s 13 surgeries having closed or restricted access for new patients and reports of longer waiting times.
Family doctors have also raised concerns that high vacancy levels have forced some surgeries to close or restrict waiting lists, with the Social Security Minister attempting to address this issue.