teacher recruitment crisis

The school

Thornbury Academy is based on the outskirts of Bradford, West Yorkshire. They are a three-form entry school with a rich and diverse group of nearly 700 children aged between 3-11 years, speaking 26 languages from all over the world.

Celebrating these differences and putting their pupils at the heart of everything they do, Thornbury Academy believes in nurturing children to allow them to reach their full potential – both in the classroom and in their lives.

Thornbury Academy currently employs 104 staff.

The challenge

Set against the backdrop of a changing direction on education policy, a national staff shortage, growing demand for ‘just-in-time’ teaching talent, soaring pupil numbers, funding cuts and a spiralling supply cover bill, the education sector continues to face unprecedented pressures.

Navigating these hurdles Thornbury Academy turned to de Poel education.

Thornbury Academy’s first and foremost objectives were to fulfil their contractual safeguarding obligations and deliver the very best in primary education, by attracting the very best in teaching talent.

Having used the services of a just one recruitment agency for a number of years, Thornbury Academy was increasingly experiencing issues surrounding quality of staff, a limited talent pool and costs. There was also growing concern about the inability to secure this temporary cover quickly – at a moment’s notice.

In September 2015, Thornbury Academy’s decision to partner with independent neutral vendor expert de Poel education signalled a new and innovative approach to their supply cover.

de Poel education would offer a simple, compliant, cost-effective and sustainable solution that could be implemented quickly and smoothly, addressing all the challenges faced – and more.

The solution

In order to ascertain a true understanding of the situation, de Poel education offered to carry out a ‘deep dive’ detailed analysis of Thornbury Academy’s current position.

The de Poel education model works by creating a compliant, agency panel whereby all supplying agencies agree to transparent, standardised terms and conditions and rates, where they are locked down in de Poel’s proprietary software system, known as e-tips®. Candidate bookings are then ordered through e-tips® – a simple, easy and quick way to track and manage the recruitment process.

During the initial analysis of Thornbury Academy’s invoices, potential savings of 10.7% were identified within a detailed cost reduction and operational proposal. de Poel also made recommendations with regard to supplying agencies, adding three further compliant agencies to the panel on Thornbury Academy’s behalf.

When the contract went live, the implementation process took just seven weeks, with a dedicated Contract and Performance Manager available  to train staff on systems, supported by a 24/7 fulfilment service.

From the beginning, there were many ‘last minute’ day-to-day cover requests, as Thornbury Academy was in the middle of a recruitment campaign. de Poel education’s dedicated team worked hard to ensure a smooth transition during this busy period, by assisting Thornbury Academy with administration and dealing with the newly-appointed panel of supplying agencies. As a result of this, 100% of all bookings were fulfilled.

Other results of the partnership have been outstanding, since going live just 12 months ago:

  • Over 449 hours of quality teaching have been delivered, whilst achieving nearly £8,000 in cost savings. Most crucially, this has not compromised Thornbury Academy’s safeguarding obligations.
  • Through de Poel education, Thornbury Academy now has a single agreement and single set of rates/terms and conditions. Through setting and monitoring KPIs, all four supplying agencies now compete on quality rather than price.
  • Use of de Poel education’s electronic ordering system enables Thornbury Academy’s Business Director, Helen Child, to contact multiple framework-compliant agencies in seconds, with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Thornbury Academy now has access to an increased talent pool of high quality supply cover, ranging from teaching assistants and teachers to caretakers and admin staff. In addition, thanks to de Poel education, Thornbury Academy is no longer receiving a high volume of sales calls and spec CVs from agencies, saving precious admin time.

From the outset, de Poel education has actively encouraged supplying agencies to foster a more personal working relationship with Thornbury Academy and their Business Director, Helen Child. As a result, supplying agencies now fully understand Thornbury Academy’s own unique requirements, namely that their school hours are different to ‘the norm’ – with Monday to Thursday longer days and a lunchtime finish on Friday, in order to accommodate pupils’ faith commitments.

Compliance is managed via the e-tips® system and meets guidelines set out by the Department for Education (DfE) and framework compliance requirements. In addition, it is backed up by rigorous supplier audits carried out by de Poel education on Thornbury Academy’s behalf. Teaching professionals cannot be put forward for a role on the booking system without full compliance checks.

e-tips® has also provided Thornbury Academy with much-needed visibility and control of their supply cover spend, enabling them to forecast efficiently with access to real-time Management Information.

The consolidated, weekly invoice has saved a considerable amount in terms of administration and resource – allowing Thornbury Academy to refocus their time and energy elsewhere.

By the end of the academic year 2015-16, de Poel education had delivered 10.8% in costs savings for Thornbury Academy. Additional efficiencies delivered so far have been related to academy-office processing and supply staff ordering.

Helen Child, Business  Director at Thornbury Academy comments:

“We have been a customer of de Poel education since September 2015. As a school Business Director, the support I get through the arrangement we have lets me focus on other activities, knowing that my best interests are being looked after.

“My contract and performance manager ensures I am always charged correctly and can organise cover if I am unable to get to my system, or am out of the office. I have a single invoice and timesheet system to deal with, and support at the end of a phone if I need it.

“I am not harassed by agencies on a daily basis. The best thing of all, however, is that I am spending less on supply cover than I was before due to the fixed rates for all agencies. I know what my costs will be and can budget accordingly. I would recommend using de Poel education for all supply cover needs.”



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