As lockdown eases in the UK many industries are getting used to ‘new normal’ ways of working. The education sector is one area that has been significantly impacted by COVID-19 and schools are expected to face many changes when they return fully in September to ensure maximum safety for both teachers and students.
However, with the benefits of supply teaching for schools being the flexibility and short-term solutions it offers, how is the industry expected to adapt to meet these new requirements?
Generally, September tends to be one of the quietest months of the school year for supply bookings. However, the current government guidance on self-isolation means schools may potentially see higher than usual level of staff absence during this period if staff members are required to self-isolate if they, or a member of their household, develop coronavirus symptoms.
Bulk bookings will be encouraged to not only ensure continuity for pupils after an unsettling period, but also to limit risk of supply staff regularly travelling between multiple schools. Bulk bookings allow schools to pick or be matched to a supply teacher that will provide value to each lesson, whilst guaranteeing their availability and commitment to a school’s needs over an extended period of time. This allows the teacher to better understand and work within a school’s individual procedures regarding COVID-19 and become a part of the school community.
Additional Safety Measures
Every agency will take their own approach to adopting additional measures to help meet the new requirements from schools. At Opus Teach we will be taking extra safety precautions for both schools and teachers to limit risk and ensure both parties are confident and feel reassured when working together.
Schools can be provided a list of where the teacher has previously/recently worked (if they have been elsewhere) and ahead of a placement starting, each school will be asked for additional information on the current measures in place in the classroom/school. Any information the school would like to be communicated to the teacher prior to the placement starting will be passed over on the day the information is received, and we will make sure the teacher is comfortable and confident in their position.
We will work with schools on a 1:1 basis to thoroughly understand their specific needs and individual approaches to the situation. No risk will be taken and the school staff, pupils and teachers health and safety is at the forefront of all decisions.
Whilst supply teachers will still be required in the classrooms, there is also a growing interest in tutoring opportunities.
The government recently announced the rolling out of a National Tutoring Programme worth £350million which recognises that some pupils may require some extra support over the coming year to fill any potential gaps in learning during the school closures.
As tutoring offers a similar level of flexibility as supply teaching, it is expected that many supply teachers may take on tutoring in addition to providing teaching in schools. Tutoring provides a great opportunity for supply teachers to utilise their teaching experience to make a real difference to a pupil or small groups and can be incredibly valuable for schools requiring extra capacity to help those pupils who need extra support and time.
We are currently working with our schools to discuss ways that Opus Teach’s tutoring service can help support pupils learning when they fully return in September.
The government also announced a package worth £1billion to ensure that schools have the resources they need to make up for any lost teaching time. It is down to schools how they choose to spend this; however, they are encouraged to utilise this effectively with additional tuition, provided by agencies such as Opus Teach, and catch up session for pupils. Many may require additional committed staff to deliver these sessions or cover those staff delivering them.
Whilst the supply market has been affected significantly throughout this period, supply staff can be a key resource in helping schools return to ‘normal’.
When the requirement for supply staff does arrive, schools will need high quality, committed, professional supply staff who are able to fit with the schools needs and continue adding value and adhering to the school’s procedures.
We are aware and ready for this need, as we continue to increase our pool of high-quality staff whilst meeting REC compliance standards and discussing with schools one a 1:1 basis how we can make supply safely work for them.
If you are wondering how supply can work in your school or are wanting to gain work as a supply teacher, please get in touch by emailing [email protected] or calling 03301 242801.
If you’d like more information on how our tutoring service can support pupils and teachers in your school, please click here