Monday, 31 August 2015

Supply teaching: the new way of working in the education sector

By Matthew Brown, managing director of giant group

If you were to ask the average person on the street what sort of roles they think contractors operate in, it’s unlikely they’d immediately think of supply teaching. However, education is one of the fastest growing areas in the contracting market with more and more professionals opting to work in this way. This trend has been highlighted in our latest analysis of our contractor database which found that an increasing number of teachers would turn down a permanent role if they were offered one. But why is this change taking place and why are so many educators choosing to operate as contractors?

The results from our analysis actually tie in with a wider trend of more professionals opting to work on a flexible basis. The reasons behind the shift are numerous but largely reflect the changing nature of the working world and the growth of the skills economy. Employers, including schools, need immediate expertise on a flexible basis and growing number of professionals are there to offer it. People want flexibility, they want change and, of course, it obviously helps that they can earn more. Many also want access to different experiences rather than being tied into one role and working as a supply teacher means they could realistically be operating in as many as six or seven different sites in a single school year. While this won’t be for everyone, after all, some people do prefer the stability that comes with a permanent position; it does mean they will be exposed to a far greater number of experiences, which means skill sets can come on leaps and bounds in a relatively short space of time.

The growing popularity of supply teaching has also benefitted agencies operating within the education arena which many individuals are relying on to source and secure opportunities. In addition, many are relying on specialist services providers, such as giant group, to help them navigate the often challenging regulatory landscape that comes with working with children.

Another factor behind the growing numbers of professionals working as supply teachers is that it can remove them from the world of unnecessary bureaucracy, politics and paperwork that many suffer from. Anyone with experience of teaching will tell you that one of the greatest challenges can be to manage the needs of a number of demanding stakeholders including pupils, fellow teachers, bosses and of course, parents. However, supply teachers won’t always be drawn into these types of affairs so for anyone looking to cut the unnecessary challenges from their day, contracting could be an attractive option.

Our data highlights that education is just one field where more and more professionals are opting to work on a contract basis and this isn’t just a temporary blip. Over the past three years the percentage of those that would reject a permanent role in favour of continuing to operate as a contractor has grown substantially and we expect it to carry on doing so. This trend is already in motion and it will be interesting to see how the sector develops over the coming years.  

What benefit do you think supply teachers bring to the education sector?

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