Facing the “New Normal” of the Teacher Recruitment market with a focus on Agency Supply Teachers.
Leaders and teachers alike are beginning to realise that the Supply Teacher market may not be cost effective or flexible enough to recover from the current global pandemic in the same way many other markets will. 2020 has been a year of unprecedented challenges for the education system as we know it, so it also holds the potential for being the year of unprecedented change. Hopefully, with time and great care, these changes will be for the better. All of us who find ourselves professionally involved in the education sector are having to face new realities that are becoming, as lockdown draws on, our “New Normal”. While many of us are being faced with changes, it can be argued that the hardest hit within the education sector are the Agency Supply Teachers.
The Agency Supply Teacher market may find that it has irreversibly changed due to the new and wildly different needs of schools, colleges and other educational institutions during lockdown. “Temporary supply teaching as we know it has stopped during the pandemic” states Paul Howells, CEO of Eteach Group; “it will need to change drastically to brave the storm as most agency staff along with their teachers face furloughs or layoffs.”
Looking forward, we have no way of telling what the “New Normal” will be when schools eventually return to business as usual in September 2020. Indeed, at the time of writing this article in May 2020, experts and policy makers have yet to agree on whether schools can safely reopen before the current academic year ends.
The mainstream supply teacher agencies may struggle to recover from the Pandemic-imposed changes we find ourselves facing, but this may not be as grim a prospect as it first appears. The negative effects will be felt first of course; those agencies that do manage to recover may not be able to see the benefits of that recovery until early 2021. Unfortunately, some supply teacher agencies will no longer be in business by that time and many career supply teachers will need to look for other work or take permanent or contract roles.
With the above negative effects in mind it can be difficult to see the benefits, but they are there and they are plentiful. Supply teachers looking for work will most likely be encouraged to take permanent or contract roles directly with schools. This of course will benefit educational institutions as they can bypass agency management fees.
Schools, colleges, MATs and so many more are already changing their behaviour and trying to hire additional permanent teachers in advance of September. Based on the information we see via recruitment sites and job boards, many institutions realise that there are more teachers than were previously available. Teachers who formerly relied on agency work are sitting at home and may be finding themselves in increasingly tighter financial constraints. Although lockdown has put a stop to many aspects of our day-to-day lives, the bills unfortunately keep coming as usual. This has led to a growth in schools’ direct recruitment and a big downturn in day-to-day and short-term supply work in the foreseeable future.
The changes the UK education sector has already undergone to ensure staff and students can be safe during the pandemic has been tremendous. These changes may not always have been comfortable but the long-term benefit of imposing them will be seen for years to come. The teacher recruitment market will be no exception to the vast array of changes that will be brought about by the pandemic.
Schools will see the benefit of these changes. Schools can look forward to reducing temporary agency spend when they reopen. Job boards like Eteach.com will benefit as well as they are offering educational institutes good value advertising, IT solutions and software which is providing schools with creative and effective recruitment solutions. Permanent recruiters will thrive and ultimately teachers will benefit from better pay and better conditions of employment. The benefits of being full-time employees of schools, colleges and MATs are numerous for all involved. So, while this will be a big adjustment for some, we can look forward to the “New Normal” being beneficial to the majority in the long run.