School: Epinay Business and Enterprise School, Jarrow
PK Education office: North East
Epinay currently educates 125 students with moderate learning difficulties ranging from early years to Post 16 education.
Here, Sue March, Deputy Head of Epinay Business and Enterprise School, tells of her experience with PK Education and supply teachers.
How long has your school been working with PK Education?
We’ve been working with the team at PK Education for around three years now. Over that time, we’ve used them for a range of services, from day to day cover to long term contracts. However, most of these have been for covering support staff rather than teaching staff.
Here at Epinay, we provide education to children and teenagers with special educational and complex needs, including provision for children and young people with moderate learning difficulties, emotional, social and behavioural difficulties and some children with severe learning difficulties.
Due to the nature of our school, it’s vital that any supply teachers or support staff are appropriately matched to us and PK Education have always been excellent in ensuring this.
How important are supply teachers to the running of your school?
Put simply, our school would not be able to run effectively without our cover support staff.
As a small school we need to ensure that all sicknesses and absences are covered effectively to ensure we’re providing the best education and care for our students.
We generally require cover support staff more than teachers, however, in the past we have used both. We’ve also used PK Education’s candidates to fill permanent roles that have become available. The fact that we’ve been able to see how a candidate works is great and it goes both ways. They get the chance to experience an SEN setting and ensure it’s definitely for them.
Currently we have four members of permanent staff that we have sourced through PK Education. One of these members of staff came to us as a support worker, but was fully qualified as a teacher, so when a position arose we were happy that she could join us in a teaching role.
How do you welcome supply teachers to your school, and do you have any advice for supply teachers on their first day of appointments?
Supply teachers or support workers are invited into the office where our office staff will welcome them and take their documents. I then meet them for a brief chat about themselves and our school, going over any fire drills and safety information. I then give them a quick tour of the school and talk them through their timetable for the day before handing them over to our Support Staff Co-ordinator of the Breakfast Club.
The Support Staff Co-ordinator then runs through breaktime and lunchtime routines and provides them with all the information they need for the day.
My advice for any new supply teachers and support staff is to be aware that roles in SEN schools can be quite challenging. However, we ensure we run a supportive team who are always on hand to offer reassurance.
How do PK Education compare to other supply agencies?
We always prefer to use PK Education over other agencies due to their honesty and their service. I appreciate it much more that they’re honest and frank with me rather than supplying me with someone who doesn’t have the skills we need.
PK Education has also been a good ally for us to have on board. The fact that Amber at the Newcastle office regularly visits the school to ensure we’re happy and our needs are being met means that we can trust her and her judgement in candidates.