School: Calthorpe Academy, Birmingham
PK Education office: West Midlands
Calthorpe Academy currently educates 380 pupils from ages 2-19. Working to educate children with special educational needs (SEN) and severe learning difficulties (SLD), Calthorpe Academy is one of the UK’s largest special schools.
How long has your school been working with PK Education?
We’ve been working with PK Education for over seven years now, and we’ve always had the same consultant, Kirsty O’Hara, who’s always been lovely to work with.
We have a great working relationship with PK Education. We have a call from Kirsty every morning at 8:00am to discuss what cover we may require that day.
How important are supply teachers to the running of your school?
Supply teachers are very important to the running of Calthorpe, but wherever possible we try to cover roles in-house, though that’s not always possible.
Therefore when we do need a supply teacher or teaching assistant, we rely on PK Education to send somebody who is right for the role. As we’ve worked with PK Education for such a long time now, we trust that they will do this. In fact, as we have had such a positive experience with PK Education in the past, we now use them solely for any supply cover we need.
As an SEN and SLD school, it’s essential that candidates are suitable for positions we need covering. As we have worked with PK Education for over seven years, we have a trusted selection of candidates that we normally use and Kirsty is very good at suggesting appropriate candidates where necessary.
How do you welcome new supply teachers to your school?
We do tend to get regular candidates so they generally feel part of the team here, but on the occasion that we do have a newcomer we invite them to report to reception. They’ll be greeted by office staff, and then the Head of Department will come and brief them for the day ahead. We then try to keep them with the same class and same members of staff so that they don’t feel too overwhelmed.
Would you consider taking a supply teacher on as a permanent member of staff?
We would definitely consider taking a supply teacher on as a permanent member of staff. Whenever it comes to advertising for a position we always consider candidates that are right for the job.
Good teachers with experience in dealing with special needs children are hard to come by. Therefore, if a supply teacher performs well in the school, we are more likely to make them a permanent member of staff if a job opportunity becomes available.
Last year, our receptionist left and we needed to replace her quickly. A receptionist is a key role within any school, so we contacted PK Education to find a suitable candidate for the interim. The candidate they sent was perfect, they had previous experience in a SEN and SLD school and as a result we offered them the full time position.
How does the school benefit from using temp to perm staff?
The school greatly benefits from using temporary to permanent staff. Recently, we advertised for a position within the school and received over 400 applications. Reading through the applications, selecting candidates for interviews, then interviewing and hiring staff can be a long, drawn out and costly process.
PK allows us to ‘try before we buy’, which is not only advantageous to the school, but also for the candidate so that they can see whether the school is right for them. Being a SEN and SLD school means we need the right staff that are able to slot into the school seamlessly, which is a key benefit of using PK Education.
How does PK Education compare to other supply agencies?
Having worked with other agencies in the past it’s clear that PK Education offer the best service. We’ve come to the point now where we expect a certain standard and because PK Education offer such a high quality service we don’t need another agency.
We’re very happy with the service from PK Education. Kirsty has a personal touch with her daily phone calls – not just in the morning to see if we need anyone but also in the afternoon to see how the candidate got on and to confirm that we’re happy. She even pops in every so often to make sure we’re getting on ok and to catch up with the team which, again, is a lovely touch.