We all know that schools are operating on tight budgets, and that’s at the best of times. One major source of additional and unwanted expenditure is the process of finding and recruiting supply teachers. At this time of the year, the pressure on finances only intensifies. With seasonal bugs flying around and the potential for another Covid wave, it’s fairly likely that the majority of schools will suffer from teacher shortages. But how can headteachers use a more strategic approach to sourcing supply teachers and keep costs from spiralling out of control?
In a series that looked into the impact of the pandemic on schools, the Times Education Supplement reported that 81% of schools were concerned about the impact of Covid on staff while, perhaps more concerningly, a further 69% cited fears about staff exhaustion, energy levels and the risk of burnout. It’s probably safe to say that the wider economic and social climate hasn’t alleviated a huge amount since the height of the pandemic and that teachers and the wider education sector are still under significant pressure.
Managing supply teacher demand
While we wish there was more positive news on the horizon, it looks like staffing concerns are only likely to worsen, at least in the short-to-medium term. Applications for education roles dropped by 32% from May – June 2022 while there was a shortfall of 6,000 people qualifying as teachers last year. This means that supply teachers are likely to become even more important as schools struggle to fill their permanent positions.
Schools currently spend between 3-5% of their yearly budgets on sourcing supply staff and while this might not sound like much, as we all know, minor increases in financial requirements can lead to significant challenges further down the line. According to one report from the NAHT school leaders’ union, that was based on more than 2,000 responses, schools spent an average of £2,454 more on supply staff, in just half a term in 2021, than they would normally expect.
This is before we even factor in the dreaded S-word. There has been much discussion about significant strikes across the education sector in recent months and the potential for major industrial action is clear for all to see, which could naturally lead to a need for a significant number of support staff if schools are expected to remain open and operational.
With so many pressures combined with a pre-existing shortage of qualified teaching staff, it’s clear that all school leaders must take a strategic approach to their supply teacher recruitment, act quickly to secure supply staff as soon as possible and look at the range of options available to them.
At the end of the last academic year, we were proud to say that over 500 schools across the country had been able to save a combined £1 million through our unique model. While that’s certainly an impressive achievement, we believe in pushing ourselves further and have set a target of delivering £2 million in savings for our schools over the next academic year. But how does our model work?
A strategic approach to supply teacher recruitment
Firstly, we recognise that while flexibility is a must for schools, an element of stability is still needed for both supply teachers and education institutes. Schools need to be confident that those who are filling in temporarily aren’t just fully compliant, well trained and competent, but also fit with the culture expected in the classroom. That’s where our bank model really works. It gives headteachers the peace of mind that the staff on site – temporary or not – will deliver to the standards that are expected by the school, its pupils and their parents.
We also believe schools can fill their supply roles more cost-effectively and with less hassle — and that they can do it with technology. That’s why we’ve created a platform bringing together schools, education professionals and agencies. By keeping everyone connected, we’re able to streamline recruitment processes – saving schools time and money. We believe our unique, custom-built platform is the most comprehensive currently available to schools and one of the easiest to use.
If you are worried about your access to supply teachers at any point, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our specialist team who can help you make more strategic supply teacher recruitment decisions.