Monday, October 5, 2009

Secondary Teacher Jobs in London: What's Happening Over There?

*Please read the comments section of this particular blog post as there is a good discussion and update on this post*

What's happening in London with Secondary teacher jobs? Well, it's a whole new year and a whole new experience for all of us in recruitment and in teaching. 

Normally, secondary school teachers have a pretty easy go of getting a full-time job and/or supply teaching right away.  Primary and SEN teachers get jobs fairly quickly as well.  How quickly?  Well, with Classroom it can take as little as a day or as much as a year depending on the teacher's likeability, experience levels and all 'round passion for teaching. 

Personally, I never had a problem getting work as a primary school teacher, whether it be day to day supply teaching (I always got 5 days/week) or long term positions teaching one class for a year.  Compared to Canada, it was a cinch to get a job!

But this is a new year.  The UK is just now climbing out of the "financial crisis" (or "credit crunch" as they call it there), and Secondary schools have made some changes in how they hire. Namely, they now hire what are called "cover supervisors", which I prefer to call security guards.  They are people who don't have formal training as teachers.  They cover the classes where the teachers are absent due to courses or illness.  They're cheap and they get the job done.  How well is a different story, but that's a whole other post.

We never thought the schools would actually go this route.  The government made the changes last year, to help schools that just didn't have enough teachers.  You see, they have  a shortage of teachers. That hasn't changed. 

But the change in taking on cover supervisors means that schools are now hiring anyone and everyone to supply teach.  This is a problem! Luckily, Classroom has a very good reputation with London schools, so we are still getting daily supply positions, but just not as much as we have in previous years, for secondary schools anyway.  Primary and SEN are still growing and doing very well compared to the other agencies in London.

Why does this affect the Secondary long term positions?  Well, schools used to choose their full-time teachers from the teachers they meet on a day to day basis. Now, schools are still hiring full-time teachers, but they are doing it very differently.  And everyone's in a panic.

So, what's the real deal?  Well, we have amazing teachers and they are working.  We have plenty of full-time teachers in jobs that they love (or grin and bear it anyway - we are talking about secondary teaching here! It's tough to say the least).  The most affected teachers are the ones who have just arrived in the last month.  They are trying their best to keep their heads up, and stay positive and not panic.

Teachers who can teach primary and SEN are in a much better position.  Some of those secondary teachers with SEN and primary experience are actually getting 3-5 days/week and being offered full-time positions.  That's amazing!

Which brings me to Amie's question on last week's post: What is my plan of attack for Classroom Canada?

I'm not making any changes to my Primary and SEN recruitment as those areas are still great.  But I am making changes to how I recruit Secondary school teachers.  Specifically, I'm not selecting anyone who can only teach Secondary.  They have to show that they have experience in Primary and/or SEN as well, so that I can rest assured that they will be able to work in Secondary and Primary and SEN.  As stressful as it is for the teachers it is just as stressful for me.  I want you people working!  So, I'm not selecting anyone who is a higher risk.  Sad, but true.

So, for those secondary school teachers with us in London, you can also rest assured that you will have first dibs on the jobs that do come in.  And they will. They always do.  Cover supervisors can't teach full-time, so don't stress about that anyway.

I hope this helps explains things a little better, particularly for the amazing teachers who are being so patient, keeping their heads up, and staying positive.  You rock!  I can't wait to see you in November for the Classroom Canada PD sessions and Scavenger Hunt.  I'll even buy your drinks.

To apply for teaching jobs with Classroom Canada, please see our website and sign up for our newsletters. Read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians by yours truly.

Questions? Comments? Thoughts? Wonderings? Please share below.


  1. So then... how do I get a job as a cover supervisor? ;)

  2. LOL - that's what I'd like to know as well Bryn! Who are these people?!

  3. As one of the Secondary teachers who arrived in the past month, I can agree that this change in the UK school system is extremely frustrating. I was excited and ready to teach Secondary, but the sad truth is simply that the jobs are just not out there. These cover supervisors, or glorified babysitters, really are just taking over our careers!

    I am glad that you posted this Victoria, because I think it's very important for all the teachers that are here, coming here or still in Canada to realize how this issue is affecting everyone. I've known about cover supervisors for a while now, but wasn't sure just how huge the situation was.

    I think for now, your idea to not recruit any ONLY Secondary trained teachers is unfortunate, but a very smart move. I personally have experience and training in all levels, and am now dipping into SEN and Primary. Not what my intentions were initially, but let's hope flexibility will pay off.

    Let me tell you, it's been a long, hard September as a Secondary teacher!

  4. And Bryn & Victoria, through my random searches on Gumtree, Google and other teacher websites, it seems as though agencies are now hiring cover supervisors themselves - and all you need is 40 hours of experience working with children!

    And less than half the pay as a supply teacher, and probably a quarter of the passion or interest in teaching. Boo.

  5. Good point Jodi!

    Agencies are trying to hire cover supervisors, but I doubt they will get very far with this as schools can just find these people on their own. With so little experience, why would schools pay more for a cover supervisor from an agency when they can just hire a local mum or dad? It really changes the hiring process.

    We are a bit more "in the know" than most because most of us have worked for other agencies and still have friends working for the other companies so we hear all about their struggles as well.

    Honestly, all the other agencies are in the same boat, and trying their best to make the changes necessary to get their secondary teachers out working. Most are trying to just stay positive, but aren't actually explaining the issues, which I personally disagree with. You all have a right to know what's really going on, and with the internet these days you'll research it and find out yourself anyway. We might as well just say it like it is.

    One of the things I am happy about is that most Canadian teachers have experience with all age groups, so with the right CV-tweaking, you should all be fine. I think people down-play their primary age experience to make their secondary teacher CV stand out, when in fact, they should be highlighting their flexibility and experience with all the age groups. That's what you're doing and I'm sure it will work!

    Also, the UK government is talking about making changes yet again, so we'll see how long this whole cover supervisor thing plays out.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing and for being you. Stay strong, keep your head up, and don't take any of it personally.

  6. I just got off the phone with Deon, the manager of the Secondary Division. We had a great chat about all of these issues, and it turns out that things really are more positive than we thought.

    Quite a few of the Canadians have gone out on trial days for long term posts, so that means schools are in fact hiring long term teachers. I think we've had about 5 or 6 go out for secondary just in the past week alone and considering the fact that I personally keep the number of teachers low so that everyone gets work in the end, this is a fairly high number. These folks don't seem to blog, and aren't very active in facebook and social networking, so we don't hear much from them. They also don't email me, as they don't really need my advice and support and seem to be doing just fine. Phew!

    What is happening is that the schools are hiring teachers to work in Science, ICT, PE and Maths more than any other subjects. This is perfectly normal, in Canada as well as in the UK.

    Humanities jobs will come around eventually, but they are more competitive so the teachers have to really be at the top of their game. In the past, it was quite easy to get these jobs, and this just means that we all have to work that little bit extra. I'm happy to help where I can of course.

    I hope this helps put it all in perspective. Please keep sharing your questions and comments!

  7. PS) That means I will still be selecting secondary teachers for the future, but with an emphasis on ICT, Math, Science and PE.

    All other Secondary teachers will have to be able to teach primary and/or SEN as well.

  8. Hi Victoria!

    I'm just wondering if any of those teachers who have had trial days are from the group of 15 that you sent over? It just seems like the Canadians (all the ones I'm in contact with anyways) are having a REALLY hard time getting day-to-day supply work, nevermind long term positions. Do you think this is because they don't have UK experience? I would love to hear how those who are getting work are doing, maybe they could do a guest blog post or something? Thanks!

  9. my post doesn't make sense, I meant the NEW Canadians that I speak to are having a hard time!

  10. Hi Amie,

    Yes a few of them are from the 'Fabulous Flexible 15'. Like I said though, they aren't in humanities. So the teachers that are stressed are humanities teachers for the most part. Sad, but true.

    Others have just arrived in the last couple of weeks and are being interviewed at schools for Maths, Science and ICT. They're not bloggers and aren't very active in facebook, so I'm not sure that you would have met them yet.

    English, History & Geography jobs will eventually come about again...we just have to be patient. Or adjust CVs and highlight the amazing flexibility and adaptability that you all have. So, an English teacher likely has some experience with ICT, even though they might think so at first. Nipissing grads in particular will be just fine in teaching ICT as they have such a strong focus on technology in their program.

    We just have to think outside the box (excuse the expression!), and try harder than we normally would have to. The SEN workshops should help!

    On the plus side, primary and SEN teachers are going out and while September was a tough month for all, October is already looking up. It seems that Teaching Assistants are also getting lots of work as well- I hear that you, Amie, are doing very well in our schools. Well done!


Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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