By Peter Carpenter, founder of TeacherIn
According to the National Union of Teachers (NUT), 69% of supply teachers use a recruitment agency to find work. However, this can come with a high price tag; the average supply teacher can lose over £7,000 a year to agency fees, with schools reportedly spending over £800 million through recruitment agencies.
So how can we set about reducing these costs, whilst ensuring that effective teaching and learning is maintained? On the face of things, when looking for a supply teacher, the agency route is understandably appealing. It promises to reduce the administrative burden for schools looking to fill temporary staffing gaps, and with recruitment becoming one of the most critical issues in education, these agencies are helping a great deal of supply teachers into work with local schools.
Agencies are not cheap
However, while recruitment agencies appear to take the stresses away for schools and supply teachers, helping to source and connect the two, their efforts don’t come cheap. In the last year alone, agencies have pocketed £271 million, with the average amount a supply teacher loses each year to agencies coming in at £7,063. The BBC also found that schools spent twice as much on buying in extra staff through private agencies than sourcing additional staff through local councils.
This is no different for the teachers themselves either; research conducted by the NUT found that 77% of supply teachers stated agencies as their primary route for sourcing work. All of these figures are astonishing, yet it doesn’t seem to be stopping schools from opting for agency help.
Another issue is suitability. With the best will in the world, an agency won’t always be able to source the perfect match, as only the school can really know what is needed for a role a teacher has been assigned to. This often means that by going through a third-party agency, the supply teacher won’t always have the full details of what’s expected of them, so when they arrive at the school, they are often unprepared, causing unwarranted stress for both the teacher and the school in the process.
But without agency assistance, how can schools ensure they’re sourcing suitable candidates without heavily impacting their already busy workloads? This is where mobile technology can really make a difference, allowing schools to cut out the middle man, while still ensuring the right teacher is being selected, and that the supply teachers themselves see the benefits without having to forgo a significant amount of what they earn due to agency commissions.
Apps for inhouse management
Having the means to manage recruitment inhouse, especially when it comes to covering teacher absences, gives schools a better indication of the relevant candidates in the area, a more efficient way to build relationships and allows any queries to be handled directly, rather than having to rely on third party involvement. Not only this, but the direct contact means that the school can discuss the specific requirements of the role with the teacher to ensure that there are no surprises, and the teacher is able to receive lesson plans for their class ahead of time. This way the school, the teacher, and most importantly the pupils, have a clear and seamless transition.
By using mobile apps, schools are able to search through a bank of pre-vetted supply teachers, organised by availability, experience and distance from the school, all of whom have received their safeguarding checks and have already been interviewed. They are then able to send out job alerts or requests via text and any bookings or information are automatically recorded. All of this can be done on the go, at the tap of an app, reducing the impact of the process on a school’s busy schedule.
This type of platform is also beneficial for local supply teachers looking to boost their own portfolio and gain recognition from schools. By setting up a profile, they can highlight their experiences and demonstrate their talents, and receive job offers straight to their mobile phone, meaning that they never miss an opportunity.
Streamlining processes and minimising work with agencies will ultimately bring numerous benefits for both schools and supply teachers, as it will likely reduce annual expenditures, while ensuring teaching and learning remains at its best.
TeacherIn is the app that connects schools with supply teachers in their local area removing the need for expensive agencies.