Supply teachers are playing a more vital role in education than ever before. Many schools don’t have the time, resources or contacts to fill vacancies, particularly last minute ones, so are increasingly turning to agencies like PK Education.
Rather than just making a phone call to secure a school with a temporary member of staff, behind the scenes consultants are working to ensure vacancies are filled by qualified, suitability checked education professionals.
Here, we take you through a typical day in office of one of PK Education’s dedicated army of consultants who work to match teachers and support staff to schools across the UK.
Amber Horrox is the Business Manager of PK Education’s Newcastle office. She manages a team of five at the Collingwood Street-based office. This is what a typical day looks like for her…
I arrive in the office after already receiving emails and voicemails from schools asking for staff that morning. With urgent bookings we commit to a strict turnaround time. That means if we can’t fill the booking quickly we’ll call the school back and let them know so that they can contact another provider to ensure they get a member of cover staff.
There are also calls from our teachers and teaching assistants letting us know that they’re available that day for work. The previous afternoon I would have rang my candidates to find out who was available for work the next day, so I already have a bank of candidates primed and ready for work.
As soon as I match the right teacher or teaching assistant to the outstanding vacancy I inform the school straight away. The school then receives an email with the details of the candidate with a full list of their qualifications, security checks and photograph.
If I have any candidates who are available for work who I haven’t been able to place that morning, I’ll then do a ring-round of schools local to them to see if they require any staff. There are often instances where schools have not had a staff absence reported until later so this can be a very valuable service to them.
After placing all candidates it’s time for the team update. This is a daily meeting we have in the office. We all get together, review that morning’s work, set our focus for the day and look at who is coming in for interview.
This is where we look to find our most valuable asset our teachers and teaching assistants. We search through the job boards we utilise, network with our existing staff to see if they can recommend anyone, contact any details we have had from our many attended job fairs and place adverts for vacancies we are trying to fill.
A potential new candidate arrives for interview. After a candidate registers with us, either by email or telephone, we invite them in so that we can find out more about what they’re looking for, and put them through our stringent compliance checks. Our compliance team will externally verify their qualifications, check out their references and, importantly, security check them. This all has to be done before we can even consider sending them into a school. We have compliance administrators in each of PK’s offices who do this full-time.
I interview the candidate – a woman. She’s a history teacher and is looking to do day-to-day cover in secondary schools. She’s got eight years of experience but has a child who has just started school and she’s finding it difficult to fit a full-time teaching post around her child so has left a permanent role and now wants to see if supply teaching will give her a better work life balance- I know I can find this teacher work.
After I have interviewed the candidate I then hand them over to our compliance team who can go through all the relevant checks- I explain to them that I want the teacher cleared quickly as I will be speaking to my schools about her as soon as possible.
After the interview I am then back on the phones. This time I am calling schools to see if they have any long-term vacancies coming up as I have a number of candidates who are looking for longer term posts. We get a lot of requests for maternity cover. It can be more cost effective for a school to fill a maternity cover with a long-term supply teacher. If that supply teacher is off sick during the cover then the school doesn’t pay and we can find someone else to cover the role. The school is also not tied to a fixed contract. If the teacher on maternity leave returns after a couple of months, then the school can terminate the supply teacher immediately.
Lunch- I try and grab a quick bite to eat whilst I am posting more adverts on our job sites as well as booking in interviews with candidates that want to register with PK Education.
My second candidate of the day arrives for interview. I am looking to fill a post for a secondary school which requires cover for a teacher they have on a secondment for a term. This candidate pre-registered with PK Education a week ago and I think this job will be right up his street.
Back to the phones. This time I am calling the schools that we have placed staff with today. I am finding out how they got on and whether they’re required for tomorrow. This is a great way to get constructive feedback about a candidate and we’ll always pass it on to them so that they can develop themselves and get the most out of supply teaching.
I’m posting more adverts and searching CVs from our own candidate bank looking for potential matches. I’ll also ring the candidates that we’ve put in schools that day and find out how they’ve got on. I’ll give them feedback from the schools they’ve been at as well as get feedback from them about the school. Hopefully I can give them the good news that the school would like them back the following day.
My last interview of the day is an NQT. She has just qualified and doesn’t have a permanent job as she wants to do some travelling later in the year. Supply teaching is ideal for her as she’ll gain valuable teaching experience in a cross-section of schools. She’ll gain ideas and strategies which will not only build her confidence but make her a very attractive candidate when it comes to applying for permanent roles.
I now do a ring-round of our candidates to find out who is available for work the following day so that I have a bank of staff ready for the urgent calls in the morning. We also always ask candidates looking for work to call and let us know if they’re available so the team and I are ready to hit the ground running tomorrow.
If you’re a teacher, cover supervisor or teaching assistant looking for supply work, or a school looking for a candidate, then please get in touch with your local PK Education office, details of which you’ll find here