Yorkshire supply teacher shortfall as profession’s profile drops

The falling profile of supply teaching in Yorkshire is minimising the importance of the profession and contributing to the current shortfall of school teachers, according to Randstad Education.

The supply teaching agency is hosting the first-ever national conference for UK supply teachers at Sheffield Hallam University on 20 June, in partnership with the Sheffield Institute of Education (SIoE).

Ahead of the event and National Supply Teacher Week, the specialist education recruiter analysed Yorkshire media coverage over the past fifteen years, finding that the profile of supply teaching in the local press is in decline.

By 2014 the coverage devoted to supply teaching in the Yorkshire press had fallen 87 per cent on 2001 levels, down from 23 articles per year to two.

Current media focus on supply teaching in Yorkshire and throughout the region has been at near rock-bottom for a couple of years now, with coverage on the profession in the two years to 2014 representing only 8% of the total coverage for the 2000 – 2014 period. This has fallen from 41% during 2000 – 2002.

More recent comparators illustrate that the proportion of coverage related to supply teaching has continued to dip, with the press profile between 2012 – 2014 four percentage points down on 2009 – 2011 levels.

On current projections, 2015 looks set to be a period of similarly low awareness of the supply teaching profession.

Randstad Education believe that at a time when Yorkshire region is experiencing a serious shortfall of teachers – partly due to the profession’s increasingly high drop-out rates – this side-lining of supply teaching in Yorkshire media is particularly dangerous.

Stewart McCoy, strategic operations director of Randstad Education, said:  “The figures we are seeing from Yorkshire are dispiriting. Supply teachers perform an enormously challenging and important role. They go into classrooms up and down the region to ensure that children avoid experiencing damaging gaps in their education.

“The quiet shunning of the profession which we are witnessing now has set off a socially harmful chain reaction whereby as their profile sinks, so does the public’s awareness of their important role in education.

“As a result, supply teaching risks falling off the radar as a career for many in Yorkshire and around the region, meaning many would-be educators will miss out on the benefits the role offers. It’s a great route back into teaching after a break from the profession, or as a first foundation stone for those still looking for a teaching job. 

National Supply Teacher Week is a great opportunity to boost awareness of the profession, and Randstad Education are marking the occasion by offering supply teachers across the country the chance to attend the first-ever professional development conference for supply teachers, which will be free to attend.”

In addition, the tone of reporting on supply teaching nationwide is also becoming increasingly negative. From 2000 – 2004, there were twice as many negative articles in the national press on supply teaching as there were positive.

This ratio has worsened over time. In the four years to 2014, there were four times as many negative articles about supply teaching than there were positive.

Mr McCoy added:“A recent piece in the Daily Mail is case in point – laying poor standards in schools at the door of supply teachers.  Inflammatory pieces like this erode the standing of the profession in the UK.

“It is true that many supply teachers don’t receive enough training – but to tar them all with the same brush does the sector an extreme disservice. 

“When it comes to raising the standards of education, supply teachers are part of the solution. This is why Randstad Education is committed to improving standards of supply teaching – and is holding an all-day conference for hundreds of supply teachers across the UK, to offer training and develop their skills.

“With a programme especially designed alongside the SIoE, this will be the first national event of its kind for the supply teaching profession – and will provide supply teachers with a collaborative platform to share ideas, explore different teaching approaches, and be inspired by new strategies.

“Supply teachers will be able to build on their experience to ensure they are fully-prepared for the classroom, and know how to get the best results out of their students, so that they can boost the quality of teaching in schools.” 

Randstad Education’s one-day conference will be held at Sheffield Hallam University in partnership with the Sheffield Institute of Education, on Saturday 20 June.

In support of National Supply Teachers week, it is free to attend (worth £275 per delegate), and supply teachers will be offered advice on implementing effective and innovative teaching and learning strategies in the classroom. 

The all-day event will also include four bespoke, interactive workshops on priority educational themes, and participants will also have a choice of subject specialist sessions across science, maths and English. 


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