Most secondary school supply teachers are struggling to find employment despite huge government cash injections, a survey has indicated.

One individual was in such a desperate situation that they feared having to use food banks, while another was advised to apply for clerical roles after contacting the local council.

Well over half of respondents told the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) that they had not worked at all last month.

And fewer than a fifth said they had been contacted by employers about their availability.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon gives go-ahead for phased reopening of schools

The findings, which will spark fears that many could leave the profession, come as schools prepare to reopen for some children from Monday following a period of Covid-related closure.

Scottish Government officials stressed that sufficient funding for an additional 2,000 teachers had been ploughed in as part of efforts to boost pupil catch-up.

They also said £45 million was being invested to support remote learning.

But SSTA leaders warned there were clear signs that many local authorities simply do not value supply staff because they feel they would be paid for doing little or no work.

One survey respondent told the union: “I was texted by [one authority] only asking for availability - nothing from three other authorities or the three independent schools I’m registered with.

HeraldScotland: P1-3 pupils are due to go back to school from Monday.P1-3 pupils are due to go back to school from Monday.

“I have written to all four local authorities and they say there is no work (except for [one authority] which didn’t reply).

“I worked right through the last term... in nine different schools with high rates of absence.

“It is clear I’m not needed anymore. I will have to visit a food bank of things don’t get better.”

The SSTA said it sought to survey 500 secondary supply teachers last month and received 120 replies covering 28 out of 32 local authorities.

Of those who were actively seeking employment, more than half (56.25%) reported that it was no longer available due to lockdown.

Just over 61% of respondents had no teaching work at all in January and fewer than a fifth (17.7%) were provided with ICT equipment to support remote learning.

READ MORE: Supply teachers report lack of work opportunities amid pandemic

A survey respondent said: “One supply teacher... contacted the authority and asked about what they were doing with their share of £45 million.

“We got a response suggesting we apply for clerical jobs. Pay: Max £10.85 per hour. I enquired. They suggested I might wish to apply but only full time. I said I had one day teaching work but that effectively debarred me as their admin team would need me full time.”

Seamus Searson, SSTA General Secretary, said: “Many local authorities do not value the work of supply teachers as they feel they would be paid for doing little or no work.

“But we know all secondary schools would value having more teachers available to help remote learning, working in the school hubs and individual pupil support.

“The Government money is not getting through to the schools and the pupils left behind are being further penalised.

“The downside of the local authority response is that our supply teachers will disappear again and most will seek other employment.

HeraldScotland: Education Secretary John Swinney.Education Secretary John Swinney.

“The SSTA will be pushing for the job retention package to be reintroduced as a measure to ensure we have supply teachers in the future.”

In a separate development, the NASUWT union published research which found half of supply staff had assignments withdrawn during the current lockdown, with a further 14% seeing their hours reduced.

One teacher told the union they were claiming Universal Credit to get by while another said they would probably have to leave their home as they could not afford to pay rent.

“We do not believe there is a robust argument for the failure to continue the SNCT Supply Teachers Job Retention Scheme while the pandemic remains with us and continues to impact on supply teachers’ ability to access work,” said NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach.

The SSTA and NASUWT findings echo those of a survey published last week by the EIS, Scotland’s largest teaching union.

Of those seeking work who replied, 44% reported a shortage of suitable employment opportunities during the pandemic.

READ MORE: Help for children catch up at school may last beyond summer holidays

Teachers also said there were difficulties in making ends meet, with some respondents indicating they were leaving the profession for financial reasons.

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said previously: “For some supply teachers without work, and who have been unable to access job retention payments, they are now in their sixth week with no income.

“We have heard statements from the Scottish Government that all available teachers must be deployed to support education recovery, but the findings of our survey confirm that many supply teachers still cannot find work.”

A Cosla spokeswoman said: “The response from councils and the local government workforce across Scotland during this global pandemic has and continues to be immense.

"As schools prepare to open up to pupils in P1-3 and senior phase students from February 22, it remains the case that councils, in line with our agreement with the Scottish Government, are fully committed to employing teachers - including those on supply lists - for the purposes of meeting the educational needs of children and young people across Scotland.”

HeraldScotland: Most pupils are still learning remotely.Most pupils are still learning remotely.

A Scottish Government spokesman stressed that supply teacher recruitment was a matter for councils.

He added: “We have invested heavily through providing £80 million of additional investment in education staff, which is sufficient for the recruitment of around 1,400 additional teachers and 200 support staff this year, and a further £45 million of new funding to support the delivery of remote learning.

“This funding is sufficient to employ an additional 2,000 teachers during this financial year, and a further £25 million has been made available to local authorities to support this to the end of the school year. This should allow more supply teachers to be recruited where they are needed.”