Supply teachers: A crucial workforce

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According to the Department of Education, in the 2015/16 academic year 2.16 million sick days were taken by teachers, with over half of all teachers taking at least one day. That’s an awful lot of lessons which would otherwise have been left unsupervised were it not for the growing army of supply teachers.

This crucial workforce has become vital for the day-to-day functioning of UK schools and, increasingly, schools are beginning to regard supply teaching as a valuable service rather than a necessary evil. We look at some of the reasons why:

Try before you hire

Try-before-hire employment opportunities are increasing in popularity across many sectors with education being no exception. Permanent hiring can be risky and expensive too; only so much can be gauged by both parties during the interview process.

A school never really knows how well a teacher will perform until they get into the classroom and that teacher will take a few weeks to ascertain whether they fit culturally with the school and want to remain there.

Taking a teacher on supply first, offers a solution that’s beneficial for everyone, allowing not only a school to evaluate a potential new hire, but also a teacher to evaluate their prospective employer and surroundings before deciding to commit.

No advertising costs

The rise in job advertising spend by schools was widely reported last year and, with schools still struggling to recruit, we can be fairly certain that the 2016/17 spend will be even higher than the £56 million spent in 2015/16.

Some individual schools reported a spend of around £80,000 per year on advertising. When you consider the fact that the proportion of schools that then have to re-advertise has also more than doubled over the past five years you start to wonder if advertising for teaching roles is the best way forward.

Using an agency, for either a full-time, part-time or supply teaching post can generally save a school time and resources. Agencies worth their salt will be well equipped to identify the worthwhile recruits and minimise a school’s risk of making a bad recruitment decision.

For job seekers, going through an agency is now the norm. Agencies offer candidates a wide variety of jobs to choose from and a far quicker way to find a position. For schools, an agency fee can actually work out to be less than the cost of advertising for a post, particularly if re-advertising becomes necessary.

Focused teaching

Flexible working, and the idea that workers can dictate how, where or when they work, is a concept that’s becoming ever-more popular, particularly in education. But whilst it’s true that supply teachers enjoy flexibility and variety, it’s also important to remember that they enjoy teaching, and are as hard-working and dedicated as their permanent colleagues.

Free from the administration that comes with a permanent teaching position, supply teachers can be more passionate and energized and can focus fully on what really matters.

The agile worker

The nature of supply teaching means that often a teacher will find out in the morning where they're required to be that day and, as we know, schools can vary enormously. Invariably, this means supply teachers are very quick to adapt and admirably unflappable.

Quite often class lists, behavior policies and curriculum details fail to materialise, leaving the teacher to teach a lesson in very difficult situations. These teachers are a great resource; building up a pool of reliable, adaptable supply teachers who know your school and are happy to work there at short notice can prove a godsend.

Here at Pulse Education, we like to think our supply teacher service can actually save schools money they may otherwise spend on administration. We think our supply teachers are absolutely fantastic.

All carefully vetted, they’ve chosen supply work for a number of reasons and are all reliable and enthusiastic.So if you’re looking for a supply teacher who’ll make a positive contribution to your school, look no further than Pulse Education:

T: 020 3319 3235

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