Hear from Stephanie Firth, Head of Additional Learning Support at Oldham College here:
Oldham College is a further education setting with a growing number of students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). With increasing numbers of colleges across the country enrolling SEND students, it is harder for further education providers to find high-quality learning support specialists to work alongside students.
In June 2019, the college approached Reed to source ten learning support assistants on a temporary basis. It required all the assistants to be in place by the start of the new term in September, meaning time was of the essence.
“I was looking to work with a recruitment company that will listen to my staffing needs and will respond accordingly to provide me with staff who are reliable, professional and efficient,” said Stephanie Firth, Head of Additional Learning Support at Oldham College.
The number of candidates needed and the wide availability of learning support roles at other colleges presented a challenge to our team.
“We began by working with the college to understand its needs, how the department worked, particularly how many of the SEND students were high needs and if they required one-to-one support or whether it was supporting small groups,” said Lewis Paterson, Executive Area Manager at Reed.
“Reed spent the time to come in to get to know our students, to get to know our staff,” added Stephanie.
Lewis and the team ensured they had a really good understanding of what I need when it comes to staff and what support our students need.
Head of Additional Learning Support at Oldham College
Once our specialists assessed the college’s requirements, they decided the best way to attract the candidates they required was through abespoke recruitment event held in conjunction with the college. This saw 15 jobseekers being invited onsite for interviews with Stephanie and her team.
By holding this event, we were able to support Stephanie to efficiently meet a range of high-quality, pre-screened candidates, while the professionals were able to get a better idea of the college’s ethos.
This compared favourably to learning support positions in other colleges, where often their first experience of their working environment is on their first day of employment.
The event was a great success, with ten temporary learning support assistants hired following the event and commencing work in July 2019 – well before the college’s September deadline.
Such was the impression that Reed left on Stephanie and Oldham College that she now uses our further education specialists for its continuous learning support needs. This can involve as many as eight to12 professionals working at the college on a temporary basis at any one time. Additionally, every year around five or six of the high-quality learning support professionals we provide are employed permanently at the college.
“For us it’s all about the fantastic relationship we’ve built with Stephanie and the team at Oldham College,” said Lewis.
“We are in constant communication and we always know exactly which stage of the process we are all focused on. On our side, we always ensure we keep Stephanie in the loop - even if we are looking for a particularly niche candidate which is proving more difficult to recruit for, so that she knows the status of her recruitment needs.”
Stephanie highlighted that Reed’s attention to detail sets us apart from other recruiters.
She said: “I’d recommend using Reed because they are a recruitment business that will listen to what your needs are.
“They will come and to talk to your students, they will find out who your customers are so that they can help serve you as a customer. They’ll spend time with you, getting to know your staff, what the role is.
“No other recruitment agency gets involved to the extent that they’re asking for job descriptions, where they’re asking for any sort of induction booklets and things that we can provide to staff.”
The great relationship between Reed and Oldham College also makes for a great working experience for the learning support professionals involved.
Learning Support Officer Adeela Sajawal, who recently began working at the college, said: “My experience overall has been amazing, very insightful and helpful.
“I’m finding my new role great, I love it. The atmosphere and staff are really nice and the job itself is less stressful.
I would definitely find a job again with Reed as it has been pleasant and lovely working with them.
Learning Support Officer at Oldham College
The final word on the relationship between Reed and Oldham College goes to Stephanie: “Using Reed to recruit has helped our college magnificently because Lewis and the team have that knowledge and understanding of what our needs are. It’s meant that more of our students have been able to access the support that they’ve needed and required.”
Initially placed8learning support assistants
Reed has12LSAs placed in the college at any time
Annually6LSA’s gain permanent roles