I spent a lovely day at the UEA Teaching Fair with this week's host, Kate. She amazed me with her knowledge and understanding of teaching and education, despite not being a teacher herself. But with nearly 14 years in education recruitment behind her, she knows she has to keep abreast of it all in order to support her supply teachers properly.
Top Class Education covers a 'shortage' area, East Anglia. Kate asked questions on the day about why we think that is, and what might persuade teachers to relocate to the area for work. Answers came in thick and fast, some people were prepared to travel to the region for say, 3 days a week, mid-week, if work were guaranteed and accommodation was available. I've visited the area many times, and it is beautiful, in a quite different way to where I live now! When I said a year's supply of chocolate would do it for me, many members of the group agreed... There's a hint for all you agencies out there struggling to attract supply teachers!
I have known Apple A Day from pretty much the day they started and have a lot of respect for the way Gemma and Christine run their business. Both former teachers, I knew that their Takeover Thursday would be honest, open, and in plain English!
Gemma asked many questions about what supply teachers want from their agency, taking the opportunity to really learn from the group members about their thoughts on CPD, social get-togethers, and very bravely asked what their general issues were with their agencies, hoping to help de-mystify some of the goings-on, and to help her determine where Apple A Day's strengths lie.
Gemma also shared her winning poem with the group, Recipe for a Perfect Supply Teacher!
Apple A Day Supply is based in Wiltshire.
I was all at once excited and anxious about having our first umbrella company hosting Takeover Thursday, I know how my supply teachers like to eat people for breakfast sometimes and boy there would be some tough questions for an umbrella company!
I therefore invited long-time friends and supporters of National Supply Teacher Week, Genie Education to be our first victims... And they should see that as a positive!
Genie Education is part of the Orange Genie group who have successfully employed thousands of teachers for nearly a decade. They provide teachers with a consistently high level of service, quick response times, and professional support throughout the journey of their employment. Pras, Operations Director, and I first met over a hot chocolate and a brownie, so from the start I knew he understood what was important for supply teachers!
Throughout the day Pras answered questions (and some were fantastic questions as expected) from the members of the group. Questions continued well into the night, and into the next morning! Questions raised were about topics ranging from claiming lunch expenses, the cost of umbrella companies, the benefits of using one, and mileage claims. Pras answered them all thoroughly, clearly, concisely and professionally.
All participants in the discussion with Pras were entered into a free draw to win CPD for Supply Teachers.
I hope Genie Education found their time with us as useful as we did!
Paula and Matt from PayGroup joined us on a rainy November day to talk all things umbrella!
There is so much confusion in this area, it took a lot of patience on all sides to fully get to the bottom of some issues. There are so many variables when talking about pay, and gross, and take-home, and deductions etc., it is a real minefield.
The mind of a supply teacher is generally crammed full of so many activities, timetables, procedures, time fillers, marking schemes etc., it's like they need to know everything a contracted teacher would need to know, but of a dozen or more schools, not just one. To then try and get their heads round their pay slip is often a step too far!
PayGroup's umbrella service is the simplest solution for most contractors, not only does it maximise your take home pay but it handles all the paperwork and gives legal employee status allowing access to state benefits such as state pension and maternity pay. Agencies don't always have the time / knowledge to be able to explain properly what's happening when a supply teacher is paid through an umbrella company, so it was a real honour to have the guys from PayGroup around for the day to explain in plain English, the answer to everyone's questions. It was a busy session as you can imagine, with one post regarding Employer's National Insurance racking up over 80 comments alone!
Our thanks once again to Paula and Matt.
We were delighted to welcome Michael Wood from Classroom for Takeover Thursday. He has worked in education recruitment for over five years, working for nationwide agencies before joining Classroom in April 2013. He is the Resourcing Manager at Classroom and his team is responsible for finding teachers for short and long term roles.
He has run national NQT strategies before and so was well-placed to invite questions about Induction and starting out on supply.
Michael focussed on two key areas:
1) What you can do to get yourself more supply work and
2) How you can get the most out of your CV.
Some fabulous pointers were made in these two areas, and I think each and every member will now be able to apply something new and positive to their CV. One point that struck a chord with me was with regards to getting more work: make sure you meet the person in charge of organising supply cover. I always talk about making an effort with everyone in the school, cleaners, head, caretaker, TA, as it all does feed back to the head. I had never, however, specifically mentioned this invaluable contact! It may not be the business manager, or the secretary, it may be a Y4 teacher who has that responsibility, the deputy, anyone... So if you like a school, do not leave there without talking to the cover manager first!
He also kindly offered anyone on the board help with their CV. If they emailed him their CV before 2pm he called them at their convenience and went through their CV line for line to make sure they were getting the most out of it. The supply teachers (and a student I believe!) who took Michael up on their offer we all highly impressed and were able to update their CVs with the pointers he had given to them. They all seemed quite excited to get on and make the changes!