Why academy trust & local authority supply teacher talent pools often fail

Headteachers, Business Managers and Cover Managers have full time jobs already, filling vacancies to cover sickness and planned staff absence is a necessary inconvenience on top of that.

Filling cover vacancies is stressful, and normally a thankless task, prone to variable fulfilment quality.

Last minute supply cover

Most sickness cover requests are made at the last minute, the night before or late afternoon causing those responsible for finding suitable replacements anguish after hours and if unresolved overnight too.

Not knowing who is covering a vacancy, waiting overnight is an experience many headteachers are too familiar with, and thankfully with online tools no longer need to endure.

Successful talent pools

Running a successful school or local authority  supply teacher and non teaching talent pool requires many steps including a steady flow of supply teachers and non-teaching supply staff, teaching assistants, learning assistants. Getting them vetted, identity checked, reference checked, their skills & qualifications recorded, availability established, recorded, and kept up to date, safeguarding completed and regularly maintained.

These are time consuming activities, which along with the many other activities such as timesheets, payroll, invoicing, must be managed, accurately and consistently for all talent pools.

Creating a supply teacher and support staff talent pool is difficult, maintaining it and making cleared workers accessible to schools is known to be difficult, however, with easy 24/7 online access to the talent pool this is no longer an issue.

The ongoing overhead and inconsistent service of supply pools run by academy trusts and local authorities tends to lead schools, when schools have choice, to turn to better run, easily accessible external education recruitment agencies talent pools.

External education recruitment agencies also offer suitable qualified supply teachers and non-teaching supply staff, who are cleared by the agencies, who are paid on time, against approved timesheets & invoices.

Education recruitment agencies fees

Relying on education recruitment agencies means schools paying recruiters a fee for their services. Fees charged to schools has resulted in a lot of media noise that education agencies are taking advantage of schools by charging too much and paying their supply workers too little.

However, the true costs associated with maintaining an active talent pool easily demonstrates the media noise is mostly unjustified.  The hidden costs and inefficiencies of local authority run supply teacher talent pools is covered elsewhere.

Matching skills & availability

Once a school or local authority talent pool, cluster, or academy trust has established a talent pool, schools want to access that pool to reliably fill vacancies.

This is when the wheels often fall off.

Having a static list of emails and telephone numbers of talent pool workers for the headteachers or business managers to contact fails on all levels.

Headteachers don’t have the time to dial a list of telephone numbers or key emails for workers to establish if those contacts might have the skills and availability to cover that day.

Asking schools to call and email workers on a static list is a nonstarter and spells the end of that clearly dysfunctional talent pool.

Finding workers with suitable skills and availability is far better with an online service. The headteacher enters the skills, dates, and times for the vacancy. Those meeting the criteria are returned and are sent an offer.

Those offered can respond instantly, by applying, requesting further details via chat, or declining.  This gives headteachers complete transparency, with the option to confirm to their preferred applicants or offer to alternative contacts. All online and instant.

No calling, no emailing, no delay, no eyeballing endless lists for skills – being online, is easy for the school’s talent pool to be accessed by the headteacher, business manager and cover manager who all see how each vacancy is progressing.

Talent pool with contingent agency workers

Where a talent pool is in its early formation schools can extend their pool to external agency contacts by simply inviting preferred external agency contacts to share their availability with the talent pool too.

Enabling schools to search their own internal talent pool first and if there are no suitable skilled available workers offers are sent to external contingency supply staff via the same service.

A larger talent pool supplemented by temporary agency workers significantly increases the fulfilment rate for schools and reduces uncertainty too.

Talent pool size

Does size matter? A growing talent pool is wonderful, however maintaining a growing talent pool becomes more demanding the larger the pool gets.  Maintaining a growing proactive talent pool is a function of activity within that talent pool.

If there is no work secured by members of the talent pool those least active workers float away to alternative talent pools, or different roles, and are unlikely to be available when needed.  Inactive talent pools become increasingly costly and less reliable.

The size of the talent pool, is directly linked to secured work within the pool. Reporting on secured work is a key performance indicator for success at an individual worker and pool level. Getting the supply teacher talent pool size right, with the appropriate skills is very demanding.

Own the problem

Most school talent pools are managed during normal office hours; however, many vacancy requests are outside office hours with headteachers wanting to fill their vacancy pretty much immediately to get it off their back.

For local authority and academy trust pools this is often problematic as the talent pool “office hours” support line is closed until the following day. Unlike most education recruitment agencies who provide out of office support via a mobile number or service email address.

Education agencies “own the problem” taking on that vacancy and move heaven and earth to fill that vacancy for headteachers.

Where internal talent pools have limited office hours access times it’s a further indication that it’s a dysfunctional talent pool with a limited chance of survival when headteacher requests are solved externally by recruitment agencies.

For talent pools to succeed there must provide 24/7 online self-service access for all schools and workers, unrestricted by Local Authority or Academy Trust office hours.

School, Academy Trust  & Local Authority talent pools with Updatedge

In summary headteachers trawling through lists of emails and mobile number to find available talent pool staff is a fail.

Local Authority and Academy Trust supply teacher and non-teaching talent pool must provide 24/7 online self-service access for schools to find suitable available staff with the correct skills and for talent pool workers to easily share their availability by using products such as Updatedge

Initially creating the pool, reference checking is relatively straight forward, maintaining skills, DBS, checks and accurate availability, timesheets, paying and invoicing is less straight forward. These tasks are often too much for most LA talent pools, leading schools with the choice to go to education recruitment agencies.

Headteachers using the Updatedge 24/7 self-service application search for skills and availability, offer vacancies to internal talent pool, cleared workers and when necessary to external education recruitment agency supply staff too.

Updatedge is used by Local Authority and Academy Trust to supplement their existing talent pools enable 24/7 self-service access and far easier management of timesheets, pay and invoicing.

Updatedge talent pool management extends academy trust, local authorities, schools supply teacher talent pools. Enabling growth, active management, with easy access to instant value to schools and talent pool workers.