TEACHING union officials gathered in Bolton on Saturday to address the issues facing supply teachers.

Bolton National Union of Teachers hosted the first North West conference to discuss how they could support and improve conditions for cover teachers — which unions say are being driven down as supply teachers “were effectively the first category of teachers to be privatised”.

Teachers from nine regions attended the conference held at the Holiday Inn in Bolton, where NUT Deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney was also present.

One supply teacher, who did not want to be named, said: “The school only wanted to pay for a cover supervisor and not a teacher, but I am a qualified teacher. Do they want me to do half a job in class?

“When I went supply many years ago, the pay was in line with a teacher’s wage. You would not get paid more, but it has gone down.

“We don’t get sick pay or holiday pay and the money we now earn does not cover that.”

Julia Simpkins, secretary of Bolton (NUTT), said: “It was a very positive meeting in how we can move forward and address the issues facing supply teachers.

“We discussed drawing up a chartermark for good agencies so teachers know about them.

“We are to lobby Parliament on October 28 where we will call for teachers to be paid at least the minimum teacher’s wage, which is not unreasonable, and we are working to have the motion about the plight of supply teachers put forward at the national conference.”

She added: “We have taken the first step. The teachers who were here today feel as if they have been listened to. Supply teachers often feel isolated.

“We are discussing ways of being able to put on training courses as they do not receive them.”

Nick Whigmore, National Executive Member for Greater Manchester, said: “I think the conference has gone very well and the message is that supply teachers get a poor deal and we have to do everything we can for supply teachers to improve their pay and conditions and ensure schools insist that there are qualified teachers in every classroom.”