It’s no secret that schools are spending a large portion of their staffing budget on supply staff, or that recruitment agencies are taking a substantial proportion of that spend in fees.
Seeing an opportunity, a number of apps have entered the education recruitment market. Their aim is to cut out the agencies and decrease costs for schools while increasing pay for supply teachers.
Traditional recruitment agencies take around a third of the cost of a supply day as fees. This varies across the country, but a typical example (outside of the major cities) would be for the school to be invoiced for £160, with the teacher receiving about £100 in their pay packet. In large urban areas the fees can be much higher.
So, would you tap an app to book a supply teacher or accept a supply booking?
What’s in it for schools?
The exact model varies, but are all based on a reduced cost to the school, whether that is as a yearly subscription to use the service, or a much reduced daily fee (typically around £8-£12 per booking, per day).
It’s not just reduced costs that are on offer to schools, it is also speed and convenience. The apps all check DBS status, right to work and take up references. Many also conduct an interview, either face to face or over the internet.
Putting a request into the apps is a swift and simple process. Then the app does the work of finding a suitable supply teacher for the booking, freeing up staff time.
With most apps, schools are able to leave feedback for staff and also request specific teachers first, building up a bank of teachers they know.
What’s in it for supply teachers?
All of these apps promise higher pay for supply teachers. Most of them act as an agency, operating payroll either through PAYE or an umbrella company. Teacherin is slightly different; it acts more like an introduction agency. All work is paid directly via the school payroll, giving supply staff access to the Teacher’s Pension Scheme.
All bookings are sent through via the app, with all the necessary details, (usually including pay rate) and all teachers have to do is to say yes or no to the booking. Staff are able to leave feedback about a school after the assignment, and also to indicate if they don’t want to go back to a certain school again.
Just like the agencies, teachers are free to register with as many apps as they wish, increasing their chances of getting work.
What might the pitfalls be?
The NAHT have raised some concerns about safeguarding in this Schoolsweek article. I have spoken to the people behind a few of the apps, and they all assured me that robust vetting procedures are in place.
Some school staff may be resistant to the idea of booking supply via an app, preferring to talk to a real person. Likewise, some supply teachers prefer to work with a consultant who knows their strengths and preferences.
The next few months will tell how this new way of working will develop. These apps operate on wafer thin margins compared to the agencies, so in order to survive they will have to scale up to become large regional, or even national, operations.
It seems inevitable that supply teaching, which has been a gig economy long before the gig economy was even a thing, will embrace this Uber-style technology. The question really seems to be which of the players will address the concerns and come out on top. It will also be interesting to see how recruitment agencies respond.
Interested? Find out more by contacting the apps direct –
|Air Supply||airsupply.org.uk||Greater London and Essex|
|Supply Clouds||supplyclouds.com||Nationwide (concentrating on London, Croydon, Leeds and Wakefield)|
|SupplyNow||supplynow.co.uk||Kent and South East London|
|TeacherBooker||teacherbooker.com||Greater London and Home Counties|
|Teacherin||@TeacherIn_uk||teacherin.co.uk||Cornwall, the North West (Liverpool, Wirral, Merseyside, Cheshire, Birmingham etc), Cardiff, London|
|The Supply Register||@supplyregister||supplyregister.uk|
|Zen Educate||zeneducate.com||London, Greater Manchester|
This post was updated 22/02/20 to update the list.