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27th Oct, 2022

Gavin Beart
Gavin Beart
Job Title
Divisional Managing Director

Over the past two decades academic recruitment has changed dramatically.

Back in the early 2000s, teaching was seen as a prosperous career choice, as many postgraduates turned to the profession. At the same time, the industry was supplemented by a deep pool of overseas teachers working in permanent and supply roles.

Since then, the candidate shortage, or crises to be perfectly candid, has become more severe. With early careers teachers (ECTs) numbers failing to be met year after year, an acute supply and demand issue has come to light in the sector. Schools now need to operate in a demanding and competitive environment and understand their own employee value proposition (EVP) as they compete for the best staff.

Inside schools, job roles have also changed and developed. While the core roles remain, we’ve seen the emergence of new jobs that never existed 20 years ago. These roles include cover supervisors, higher level teaching assistants, SEND specialists and other ancillary posts aimed at increasing teaching standards. And, as we continue to deal with the impact of the pandemic, wellbeing and mental health support roles are commonplace.

Most schools now have technology at the heart of the provision, which means staff have had to adapt and learn to use this effectively in the classroom and beyond.

Support and supply

Twenty years ago, over 50% of supply in schools was provided directly from supply teachers working for schools or the local education authority (LEA). Alongside this, LEAs provided newly qualified teacher pools for schools to choose from each September.

Fast forward to the present day and most supply is now sourced from agency. Demand for staff has continued to rise over the past two decades, as the challenges schools face have become even more acute and nuanced than ever before.

The need for cover has seen a drastic increase, while the demand for support and supply has developed further into all areas of staffing inside school. This demand, coupled with the development of academies and multi-academy trusts (MATs), has meant the desire to attract quality staff has continued at pace.

We must allow teachers to do what teachers do best – teach.

Gavin Beart

Divisional Managing Director, Reed

The Covid-19 impact

The pandemic has seen a huge shift in teaching methodology, having accelerated the use of online learning, forcing teachers to adapt to new ways of working. Things that were once taken for granted, like running a practical lesson, being in a classroom environment and using physical materials, simply vanished overnight. Ensuring an engaged and focussed class in the online arena would have been an exciting challenge for some, but a daunting task for others.

The changes we’ve seen over the past two years have created an even bigger challenge for the education sector, from the damage caused to pupil’s learning to the impact that school closures had on the mental and physical wellbeing of all those involved. It’s clear to see all elements of schooling have been affected.

Hopefully, we will see the rising issues around wellbeing and mental impact be addressed, allowing students and pupils to get the support they need. Equally, let’s hope the lost learning will be combated by the Department for Education and government in their future policies to support schools.

The need for change

The shortage of teachers has never been as serious as it is now.

For the sector to thrive once again, teaching must be seen as a destination of choice for the brightest and most able individuals, coming in at the front and centre of government policy. From improving the salary and pay for ECTs, to reducing the red tape and bureaucracy, we must allow teachers to do what teachers do best – teach.

In addition, schools are in a constant battle for talent and are recruiting from a far smaller pool than in previous years. Those that want to succeed in securing the best employees will need to focus on what they offer, alongside how they support and retain staff as the sector becomes even more competitive. As we’ve seen over time, more complex solutions are now being offered to schools, MATs and local authorities.

We are slowly seeing more opt in when it comes to fully managed services inside the sector, with more requirement to work formally in contract and with systems, as well as human interaction becoming more entwined.

The Lancashire Teaching Agency

As it has done over the past two decades, the Lancashire Teaching Agency (LTA) will be on hand to support schools across Lancashire deliver high standard of teaching.  

Celebrating its 20-year anniversary this year, the LTA, a joint venture between Lancashire County Council (LCC) and Reed, continues to combat the rising recruitment demands in the county, while offering a comprehensive solution to schools’ staffing requirements. 

Through the LTA, we are continuously investing in candidate acquisition, speeding up the process of vetting and compliance, and looking to ensure we deploy more candidates than ever into the schools across the county. Continued professional development (CPD) options are available to all teachers and supply staff, as we know how vital CPD is for teachers to keep up to speed of the ever-evolving changes. 

Our teams continue to be invested and dedicated, both in our staffing levels and technology. This ranges from traditional methods such as job boards, to much more advanced smart technology, or ‘rec tech’, to allow us to source the best professionals to supply to Lancashire schools. 

The progression and development that has been made throughout the sector over the past two decades has been remarkable and it will be interesting to see what the future holds. 

We hope to see more investment in the sector over the coming years, after all education plays a key role in shaping the next generation, and it’s vital we continue to uphold the best possible professional standards.

Download our interactive digital brochure to learn more about the LTA and how it has helped to improve the standard of school recruitment across the region.

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