FINDING good, qualified teachers “can be impossible” at times, Carmarthenshire’s executive board member for education has said.

Councillor Glynog Davies made the comment during a discussion at a full council meeting about the use of supply teachers, which costs the authority more than £4 million per year.

He had been asked by councillor Bill Thomas what the council was doing to offer supply teachers more permanent work, given a recent demonstration in Cardiff about their pay and conditions.

Cllr Davies described supply teachers as an “essential resource” for schools, who stepped in when staff were sick or on training courses.

“Finding good individuals, competent and qualified teachers, can be very difficult at times,” he said.

“It can be impossible. So it is important that some sort of system is in place.

“I am ready to admit that there are difficulties, so can I assure councillor Thomas the department and myself are taking note of the point.”

Cllr Davies added: “What is the Welsh Government doing? What is Welsh Labour doing to ensure fair pay for supply teachers?”

He said the Welsh Government was looking into alternate models for employing supply teachers, but that a workforce to look into the matter had been established more than two years ago.

Cllr Davies added that supply teacher pay scales were set by the UK Government.

The earliest they could be transferred to Cardiff Bay, he said, was September next year. He added that Carmarthenshire was part of a pilot project to help find newly-qualified teachers their first job, which had resulted in three new posts at Coedcae comprehensive, Llanelli.

“These (teachers) will be available to provide supply days according to need,” he said.

Cllr Thomas’s question also referred to a supply teacher company which, he claimed, had paid two of its directors almost £1 million in two years despite supply teachers’ pay being “well below” that of their permanent peers.

Cllr Davies said the council had paid this company £930,000. He insisted that the contract process was thorough and good value for money, and that it was one of 14 such companies the authority used.

“They are all private companies,” he said.

“We, as an authority, have no control whatsoever over their wages.”

The Welsh Government’s £2.7 million pilot project is helping around 50 newly-qualified teachers into work, who will provide supply cover.

Announcing the scheme last autumn, Cabinet Member for Education Kirsty Williams said: “I want to improve the way that our system currently employs, manages and supports our supply teachers.

“I am committed to ensuring that teachers who work flexibly in this way are well equipped, appropriately rewarded, and integrated into the teaching profession.”