Glasgow City Council, the sole provider of supply teachers for city schools, embarked on a mission to modernise its traditional and manual processes. Recognising the need for a tech-driven approach, they collaborated with Teacher Booker. This partnership transitioned the council from a system reliant on phone bookings and paperwork to a swift, intuitive, and digital platform. The result? Schools in Glasgow can now directly book over 1,000 supply teachers, streamlining processes for both short and long-term placements. Within the first month of this digital leap, a staggering 3,184 days of supply were booked across 138 schools. Glasgow City Council are setting the bar high, showcasing how innovation can redefine supply staff management in the education sector.
Glasgow City Council (GCC) is the exclusive provider of supply teachers to all schools across the city. The service is operated by Customer and Business Services (CBS) who manage the process on behalf of GCC’s Education Services department.
External providers such as supply teacher agencies do not provide supply teachers to GCC’s schools. All provision is managed in-house by the CBS Supply team who advertise when necessary and process all the recruitment administration. With almost 1000 registered short-term supply teachers, and 650 permanent teachers available for long-term contracts at any one time, Education HR manages a large contingent workforce to meet all short and long term staffing requirements across Glasgow’s schools.
With the increasing adoption of technology-led services in schools, Senior HR Officer Alison Allan was involved with other Scottish local authorities in identifying options for a new way of working, which enabled schools to directly book supply teachers modernising and streamlining the existing manual process. This facilitated schools taking ownership for their short term requests and also ensured a more transparent process for supply teachers who were seeking short term work.
Scotland Excel’s Supply Teacher Booking System Framework provided a shortlist of suppliers able to provide such a system, and Teacher Booker proved to be the best fit supplier for GCC — as Alison describes, “The booking system is easy to use and has enabled us to streamline our processes for 200 schools and over 1000 supply teachers, making it a more efficient way for short term teaching posts to be filled”. Implementation began at the end of the school year in June 2021 to be ready for launch in mid-August 2021, the beginning of the school year in Scotland.
Problems, Challenges and Hesitations
The existing systems in place for managing such a large contingent workforce were cumbersome and heavily reliant on manual processes. In some cases, supply teachers booked via phone were even requesting guidance from a CBS Supply team member on their optimal route to work. The manual processes and reliance on CBS Supply for this kind of high-touch interactivity meant that booking each supply job was a long process
Although there was, in general, an appetite for a more streamlined system amongst schools and supply teachers not all stakeholders were aware that a system designed specifically to meet these needs already existed. Once the first demonstration of Teacher Booker’s supply booking system had taken place, the Education HR team with the process and began to envision the benefits that system change could yield.
Nevertheless, there was an acknowledgement that any system change, especially one at this scale, is not without its challenges. To mitigate this, Teacher Booker created a comprehensive implementation plan detailing the precise steps required from each party and the timelines and milestones to achieve the agreed objectives. All the way from the initial engagement, through data migration, account setup, onboarding and go-live, Teacher Booker engaged stakeholders managing expectations and alleviating concerns relating to all aspects of the service including user onboarding, day-to-day operations, and reporting.
With the target to go-live before the beginning of the new school year, it was critical to maintain tight project timelines and milestones. Each milestone was achieved on time, enabling a smooth go-live coinciding with the beginning of the new school year in August. In the first month, 3,184 days of supply were booked across 138 schools.
Through an intensive scoping period in early summer 2021, Alison worked with Teacher Booker to design their ideal requisition workflow, user permission structures, candidate and school user experience and reporting requirements.
The overall goal was to design an intuitive experience for all users (school users, supply teachers and admins) that enabled schools to find the staff they need and book them in for supply work quickly and without the need for training on how to use the system. This provided supply teachers to receive the widest choice of work possible; and for HR to access concise management information that would inform the workforce plan. This included the implementation of two separate workflows for requisition – short-term, where the school can book in the teachers they need immediately, and long-term, where the school submits a request to HR for authorisation for longer term vacancies.
As a purpose built solution for the education sector, Teacher Booker satisfied many of these requirements out-of-the-box. Some of the more detailed requirements, particularly around reporting, were rapidly scoped, developed, iterated on and released during the implementation period to ensure optimal usability from go-live. Many of these features that were developed closely in line with GCC’s requirements have since proven to be very useful for other Local Authority and enterprise clients.
Results and Benefits (Quantitative & Qualitative)
During the school year 2022-23, 168,498 days of short and long term supply were booked across 7,859 individual jobs. Many supply jobs are filled within one minute of being posted, and the volume of technical support requests from the 1500+ regular school and teacher users is minimal.
We continue to work collaboratively with the council to develop our software in line with their needs. Further developments around supply teacher payroll processing, made in conjunction with other clients, will further increase time saved for GCC and its associated schools.
GCC’s implementation and go-live progressed quickly and according to the pre-agreed timelines. This successful high scale implementation proved that rapidly onboarding large numbers of school users, workers and admins is an achievable goal for even the largest school groups.
Since going live with GCC, Teacher Booker’s implementation team has onboarded 8 other high scale Local Authorities across Scotland and England, several leading English Multi Academy Trusts and have partnered with the Welsh Government to open the National Supply Pool for Wales on the platform.
It is clear then, that in 2023 – 2024, the UK education sector is ready for a shift away from a delegated, ad hoc resourcing model for temporary staffing and towards a sustainable direct engagement model – and that technology platforms have an important role to play in this transition
Client Testimonial: Alison Allan, Senior HR Manager, Glasgow City Council
“Working with Teacher Booker since May 2021 has been a really positive experience for Glasgow City Council’s schools and supply teachers. The booking system is easy to use and has enabled us to streamline our processes for 200 schools and over 1000 supply teachers, making it a more efficient way for short term teaching posts to be filled. The booking system utilises technology allowing schools to see very quickly who has applied for their posts, ensuring the focus is on teaching and learning. The system is intuitive, therefore individuals require minimal support when the system is launched, and very quickly the benefits can be reaped.
Teacher Booker’s greatest strength is their customer service as they work hard to fully understand the needs of your business, and look at how best they can support when launching the booking system. Following the launch of Teacher Booker’s system they have consistently met our expectations of good customer service, and are responsive to suggestions on how we can work together to continuously improve. Working closely together has enabled us to use the platform to develop a more effective approach to strategic workforce planning, as well as booking teachers for short term posts.”