WREXHAM Council spent almost £300,000 on supply teachers from outside agencies last year.

The bill at one large secondary school amounted to nearly £140,000.

The figures have been revealed by the council in response to a Freedom of Information request.

They show that during the financial year 2009/10, the authority forked out a total of £291,370 to 11 different supply agencies for teaching cover at nine schools, ranging from nurseries to community highs.

The largest amount – £139,136 – was spent on behalf of Rhosnensi High, with one agency being paid £117,174.

Next highest was Ysgol Bryn Alyn in Gwersyllt where £43,494 was spent, then Ysgol-y-Grango in Rhos with £18,045 and Darland in Rossett where the bill was

The other schools listed spent much smaller amounts.

A council spokesman said: “Schools will have all sorts of reasons for needing to employ supply teachers, such as staff off sick or away on courses.

“Staff may also be involved in activities other than teaching, such as planning, preparation and assessment and management tasks.

“The fact that national terms and conditions changed as from September, 2009 so that teachers can no longer be required to ‘cover’ for absent colleagues has led to a greater use of supply teachers.

“In some circumstances a vacancy arises mid-year which is filled by a supply teacher on a long-term basis rather than advertising for a permanent member off

“Schools tend to do this when they are unclear as to whether the position would be required in the longer term, such as following a time tabling exercise.

“Rhosnesni is our largest school by nearly 50 per cent, so its use of supply teachers is proportionate.”