The Scottish Government has been unable to guarantee that all teachers will be paid during the coronavirus school shut down. 

Supply teachers who often work on a casual, ad-hoc basis based on agreements with senior staff, rather than formal contracts, may be left without pay due to the nature of their work. 

The Educational Institute of Scotland confirmed the closing of schools would "potentially impact" supply-teachers. 

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It has written to teachers to say that "pay unreasonably withheld during this period of national crisis will be vigorously challenged", The Herald has learned. 

Although the Government said it was looking into the issue, it refused to tell us whether it could guarantee supply teachers would be paid during the pandemic.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Ministers are keen to examine what can be done to help supply teachers.

“Through the established procedures already in place for pay and conditions  - the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers - we will be engaging in discussions with both local government and the professional organisations on this issue.

“We are determined that supply teachers, as with all teachers, are treated fairly as the impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19) continues to affect the whole of Scottish society.”

When we asked for a guarantee that supply teachers will be paid, a spokesman said it would not be adding to its statement. 

Supply teachers are often employed on zero-hours contracts - which are more likely to be held by women than men, according to an EIS pamphlet given to members. 

In this literature, seen by The Herald, the union said "there was a discriminatory aspect to the use of these contracts".

A spokesman for the EIS said: "While closures wouldn’t impact on pay of supply teachers engaged on a fixed-term contract (or teachers on permanent contracts), it would potentially impact any supply teacher not currently engaged (or without an agreed pending engagement) in a school.

"We’re obviously continuing to speak to local authorities about all of this."

In a separate statement, an EIS spokeswoman added: "The SNCT has agreed provision for the payment of supply teachers who are currently employed, or scheduled to be employed, on fixed-term contracts.

"The EIS is continuing discussions with the Scottish Government and local authorities, with regard to the implications of the school shutdown for supply teachers who do not fall within the scope of the current arrangements." 

This means any supply teachers with contracts will be paid, but those without formal written contracts are still facing an unclear future and do not know if they will be paid in the coming months as schools shut down. 

We spoke to a teacher working in Scotland, who did not want to be named.

She has worked several days a week at a school over the course of a number of months and fears her pay will soon be stopped.

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"It's hypocritical of the government to encourage private firms to pay staff during the crisis - and not reassure hard-working teachers that they will get enough money to survive," she said.

"Supply teachers are integral to the running of many schools but are often employed in a precarious way that's reliant on verbal agreements. 

"They are often women, many of whom are returning from maternity leave. 

"We have had to plan for the future based on agreements that now appear to be scrapped.

"We should be issued with contracts and local authorities should make sure we are paid whilst the schools are shut down.

"It's not just schoolchildren who will suffer - it's our own children. 

"Supply teachers are worried about how we will make ends meet."