The Covid-19 pandemic presented a wealth of challenges for headteachers and teaching professionals as they battled with home schooling, partial school closures, talent shortages, staff sickness absences and furlough concerns.
For those of us who played a significant role in keeping the education sector running throughout the pandemic, there was a need to rethink strategies. During this time, the benefits of our robust staff bank model really came to the fore. We were able to step up to the challenge and minimise the disruption to classrooms by having supply teachers ready to drop into assignment with the knowledge and skills required to deliver that all important consistency for pupils.
As a business we always want to go above and beyond for our partners, so during the height of the pandemic we also provided, either directly or via our supply chain, essential staffing support for Covid testing facilities at schools across the country. We provided staff suitable to fulfil the variety of roles required in the management and delivery of testing plans at schools, alleviating at least some of the significant pressure that was on schools, academies and trust to provide mass testing.
For the supply teachers we work with, it was an uncertain time at the beginning of the first school closures. A lack of clarity around contingent access to furlough schemes was a significant concern for those not in a permanent position. However, as a firm that strives for fairness in supply teacher recruitment, we committed to giving our teachers the stability they needed. We provided furlough payments to all our candidates and made ZERO redundancies. We reached out to our supply workers to ensure they were not only getting paid (and on time), but also felt supported throughout. We were delighted to find that close to 100% of our candidates were satisfied and impressed with how The Supply Register supported them during the whole process.
Fast-forward to the last academic year and students have been back into the classroom full-time once again. But this positive news created a wealth of other challenges. The pressure to ensure pupils caught up on learning has put immense pressure on teaching professionals at a time when many are still feeling the impact of the difficult few years. Mental well-being has never been so widely recognised as a crucial mechanism needed in classrooms for teachers and pupils alike. The taboo around mental health openness has been lifted, but while this is a positive, the reasons behind it are not.
In a series looking into the impact of the pandemic on the classroom, TES magazine reported that 81% of schools across England were concerned about the impact of Covid on staff, citing the increased workloads and staff energy levels as an issue. A further 69% cited worries about staff exhaustion and the risk of burnout. In this environment, it’s difficult for any teachers to bring their best self to the classroom. At the Supply Register, we will continue to do everything we can to support the teachers in our network in every way we can.
The coming academic year does look set to continue to be uncertain, with whispers of strikes in the sector and the cost-of-living crisis very much front-of-mind for everyone. But for The Supply Register, our most important stakeholders are the children in the classroom and their access to a consistent education. Having high-quality and highly-trained supply teachers able to fill in is important, but what we are also seeing is an increased reliance on technology in the classroom.
With blended learning here to stay, schools, academies and trusts are increasingly utilising the tech that proved valuable during home-schooling. While permanent teaching professionals will have the tools to successfully adapt to blended learning practices, supply teachers – who are often a hidden part of the workforce – aren’t always privy to the training needed to ensure they can best leverage the tech being used. As a business that has technology at the core of its solutions, The Supply Register is committed to helping teachers adapt in this environment and all of our supply workers have access to a range of CPD training that is relevant to the modern education landscape.
Over the course of the next academic year, we will be sharing our best practice advice on all of the issues impacting education recruitment for our teachers and the schools, academies and trusts we work with. But if you want to know more before then, contact the team today.