According to teacher recruitment expert John Howson, secondary schools will have problems recruiting teachers in all subjects excluding PE and art for the coming academic year.

This prediction follows other widely reported analyses of staffing levels, which all agree that schools could face staff recruitment shortages this September.

These gloomy prognostications are being valiantly countered by the DfE which maintains that “the number and quality of teachers is at a record high, with over 1,000 more graduates training to teach secondary subjects now than a year ago.”

Come September, we will know the truth. But by then, for some schools, it will be far too late to address any shortages they encounter.

In the midst of this debate, this week supply agencies earned an oblique endorsement from the DfE via their praise of the staff they provide, while appearing to simultaneously defend the sums schools spend on their supply staff: “Supply teachers provide a valuable role for schools, and schools themselves are best placed to make staffing decisions to reflect their individual needs.”

This official endorsement of the contribution supply staff make should quell some of the headlines about how much schools spend on temporary staff – and shift the schools’ thinking from nervousness over criticism of their spending to where they will be able to find excellent temporary staff when they need them.

In short, they need to stop fretting about shortages and be examining their choice of agency against its willingness and ability to meet their needs – and be sure long before July that their wagon is hitched to one of the really good agencies out there.

Among the relatively few really good agencies, we believe we are the best. We have made five promises to our schools and our staff and we deliver on them:

quality of service before profit
flexibility
individual support
commitment to excellence, and
safeguarding always our highest priority.

We also take enormous care of our staff, so we have their loyalty and trust and their willingness to go the extra mile for our client schools.

In the midst of a teacher shortage, I think the chickens are about to come home to roost for the agencies which just chased the money and didn’t attempt to meet these standards. And not before time.

When assessing the performance of the agency you currently use, ask yourself five questions:

Does your agency regularly release its staff to schools as permanent appointments? (If yes, this is reassuring proof of good matching and high quality).
Do you get a dedicated one-to-one service… or are you greeted with a call centre?
Does your agency do more for you than just find anyone to fill a gap – and does it offer additional support, rebates, training schemes?
What is your agency’s approach to safeguarding – is it a necessary box-ticking duty, or is it at the centre of their business?
And exactly how satisfied have you been with the quality and ‘fit’ of the staff you have been sent in the past?

At Connex, my plans for September are already in place. We are in the middle of our biggest recruitment drive yet for quality teachers, both to meet the demand from our schools – whatever it is – and to replace those staff we lost this year to permanent appointments with schools we placed them in. More and more, we are taking on teachers who are choosing supply working for their career and we have a large pool of staff already available for September. We treat our staff very well and word gets round. We’re not struggling to recruit.

If you would like to join Connex, contact us today for more information. You can call us on: 0845 266 0650 or click here to visit our website and submit a vacancy.