A unique risk management programme has been developed specifically for the education sector to help it manage teacher absence in schools.

According to the Department for Education and Employment, each teacher is absent for seven days in the school year on average. This equates to 2.8 millionteaching days lost, with an estimated cost of £300 million.

In response, BEST Underwriting agency has developed "Managing Teacher Absence" with public sector trainers Merlin Communications.

The programme includes video training resources for school governors, head teachers and department heads to help them develop practices that reduce absence. This includes conducting effective back-to-work interviews, which have helped reduce short-term absence.

It also provides on-line record keeping reports that prompt school managers to evaluate and minimise the risk of absence by highlighting problems as they arise.

With the risk of absence reduced, local education authorities (LEAs) can make effective use of supply teacher insurance, which allows schools to claim back the cost of replacing absent teachers with supply staff.

Gary Salter, managing director of BEST Underwriting, said: "Staff costs make up 80-85% of a school's budget. With supply teachers costing around £125 per day it is in the interests of Government, LEAs and schools to cut these costs by proactive management. "