School: Highfield Middle School, Sunderland
PK Education office: North East
Highfield Middle School educates 420 pupils across Years 5-8
How long has your school been working with PK Education?
We’ve been working with the same consultant, David Todd, for three years now. Over the past three years we have built up a very good and trusted working relationship with David and PK Education.
They’re very reliable, I know that I can ring them up on a day where I need somebody to cover a class in half an hour, and they will bend over backwards to supply me with the right teacher for the job. They’re not the sort of supply agency that will just send anybody on their books.
Over the last three years PK Education has taken the time to find out what the school’s values are and find suitable candidates.
How important are supply teachers to the running of your school?
We don’t very often have to use supply teachers to cover on a day to day basis, as we employ our own cover supervisors. But when we do need to use supply teachers, we tend to use them to fill mid-long term posts and I have faith that PK Education will supply us with relevant and useful candidates.
How do you welcome supply teachers to your school, and do you have any advice for supply teachers on their first day of appointments?
We try to welcome supply teachers with a ‘visiting staff file’ to ensure they feel part of the team. The file contains; a map of the school, a staff list, child protection procedures, behaviour policies, fire procedures and an e-safety policy etc.
Would you consider taking a supply teacher on as a permanent member of staff?
We have recently taken on candidates permanently who have worked for us on supply, including Jennifer Bird who worked on a maternity cover basis.
Because we have faith that PK Education won’t just send any teacher for the sake of it to us, we know that we can ask for mid-long term cover. With Jennifer it worked out really well. She found her feet in the school and fitted in with the team.
It can be a balancing act, because within schools, you would generally assume that you will attract a higher calibre of teacher if you advertise for a post rather than using a supply teacher to fill it. However, from our consistently positive experiences dealing with PK Education and its supply teachers, I would have to disagree.
What is your advice to supply teachers?
It’s always important to look smart, smile and listen carefully. Always have a few ‘one off’ lessons in your bag just in case. And if you really want to impress… stay behind and do a bit of marking and provide some feedback for the absent teacher.
How does PK Education compare to other supply agencies?
They deliver a very good value-for-money service that’s reliable, consistent and in-line with our school’s values.