Supply teachers should be valued more

As a teacher supply agency, it is of the utmost importance to us that teaching candidates are put into roles that they can enjoy and flourish in. As such, the issue of teacher retention is something that we believe is important to discuss so without further ado…

Let’s Ask the Right Questions About Teacher Retention!

We’ve been discussing what really matters to a candidate when looking at supply/interim teaching as a genuine career option. Clearly for some, it’s a temporary measure while waiting for that plum job.  But the statistics for teacher retention suggests that the potential pool of great teachers wanting a different work framework is growing and this raises some challenges for schools and supply agencies.

The endless articles on teacher workload provide some clues, and I’ve already written about teachers enjoying the different routine when separated from the relentless pressure of administration, cover, playground duty and so on.

I was very lucky in that although teaching within the English curriculum, for the first 15 years of my career, I worked under French terms and conditions and that meant 19 hours of contact teaching per week………… and aside from parents’ and staff meetings, that was it!!  Returning to the English system in 2003, I received a short (actually not so short) sharp shock.  What I remember above all was how relentless the week seemed from arrival at school on a Monday morning and leaving on Friday afternoon.  Don’t even mention evenings and weekends!

I honestly believe I was twice the teacher pre-2003 as I was afterwards.  That means my students were twice as well taught!

So I am really interested in developing  a model that gives great teachers what they need to continue as great teachers, and what schools need to do to accommodate this.  The intermediary between this is the supply agency, and it’s clear that the sector is giving this some serious thought.  That said, I’m unconvinced the new framework for supply agencies has met this challenge with its focus on price.

It’s not about price, it’s about the value of the teaching and learning experience that a necessary dependence on temporary teachers can produce.  Over the next two weeks I’m going to ask some serious questions about this and I will report back.

Peter Cobrin entered teaching by accident in 1981 to provide cover for a few days and stayed at the same school for 15 years first as a teacher of history and politics, then head of department and de facto head of sixth form. Later in his career he was a lead adviser in the Building Schools for the Future programme and now he is a key member of the First Class Education family, focusing on innovation and special projects.