SCHOOLS in Huddersfield are spending nearly £4m a year on supply teachers from private companies.
Seven high schools paid out more than £100,000 for agency teachers last year.
And a union official has revealed that, on average, each teacher takes eight days sick leave each year.
Figures released this week under the Freedom of Information Act show the 185 schools in Kirklees spent £3.98m on agency supply teachers in 2009/10.
The biggest spenders were:
Spen Valley Sports College – £177,523
Fartown High School – £164,540
Moor End Technology College in Crosland Moor – £162,776
Shelley College – £158,309
St John Fisher Catholic High School in Dewsbury – £149,347
Whitcliffe Mount Business and Enterprise College in Cleckheaton – £147,497
Almondbury High School – £143,087
However, many primary schools spent nothing on agency supply teachers in 2009/10 including Reinwood Infant School at Oakes, Emley First School and Farnley Tyas First School.
Figures for 2008/09 were also released this week after a Freedom of Information Act request by Amanda Walker.
The total bill for that year came to £4.23m.
Shelley College spent the highest amount in 2008/09 at £225,662, followed by Carlinghow Junior and Infant School in Batley on £206,214 and Spen Valley Sports College on £204,750.
Another 12 schools spent between £100,000 and £200,000 on agency supply teachers in 2008/09, including King James’s School in Almondbury; Royds Hall High School, Almondbury High School, Fartown High School, Moor End Technology College, Honley High School and Mirfield Free Grammar.
None of the figures above include the amount schools spent on the council’s in-house supply teaching service.
A council spokeswoman said: “Kirklees schools are making great efforts to ensure staff absence due to sickness is kept to a minimum – reducing the need for supply teachers.
“Schools in Kirklees are also working to ensure that necessary staff training is organised to minimise the need to employ supply teachers.
“Schools take out insurance to cover the cost of supply teachers that may be required for unplanned staff absence.”
Howard Roberts, Kirklees branch secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said he was concerned about the use of agency staff.
He said: “We’re worried that the supply agencies are not actually paying the teachers the right rate.”
Mr Roberts defended the absence record of teachers in Kirklees.
He said: “The average is about eight absences a year which is low by local government standards.
“But every time a teacher is off, a supply teacher will have to be brought in and that’s the price you pay.”
Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman said: “I only worry about supply teachers when they come in to cover for long periods, for several weeks at a time.
“There are always going to be supply teachers, but the point is that they should be well trained.”