Improving educator retention through community development

Justyn Randall

Monday, 11 February 2019

Q1: Trends Report 2019 

Who is Opogo?

Opogo’s mission is to create an ecosystem of impact, value and happiness that permanently transforms the lives of everyone in education. Our focus is on using technology to build a supportive online community and more effective and efficient recruitment, development and retention across the education sector.

Why is Opogo necessary?

Over the last decade, education budgets have been reduced significantly and morale has suffered. Teachers’ workload and mental health are important issues that need to be addressed if we are to help every pupil reach their potential.

Meanwhile, teacher numbers are not rising sufficiently to meet the demand for increased pupil numbers, creating increasing dependency on agencies. The inclusion agenda means many more Special Education Needs (SEN) teachers will be needed in UK schools moving forward.

Government figures project that by 2023 there will be over 8 million pupils in England’s schools –up from over 7 million in 2017 –which will require new schools and an increased demand for teachers.

The UK supply teacher market is estimated to be worth £1.3bn and has been growing at 5% per year. Spend with agencies on supply teachers is higher than spend with other channels, including direct and LEAs, and now makes up 69% of total investment (up from 54% in 2011). Spend with agencies on supply teachers is particularly high in Outer London (81%) and Inner London (91%).

This combination of poor morale, high costs and scarcer talent has created the need for a new approach. Opogo believes strongly that there is a positive way forward for the education sector. Appointing supply teachers simply to fill the gap is a mindset that needs to change.

Our thinking is supported by the recently published Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, developed by the Department of Education in collaboration with teachers and head teachers. The paper acknowledges the challenges that schools currently face, notably a fall in retention rates among early career teachers, complexities in the application process and the need for greater flexibility in work patterns.

Social impact

Opogo uses technology to optimise processes in the education system, from tools that help teachers day to day, like lesson planners and timesheets to career and skill enhancing learning support such as continuous professional development (CPD) content and digital events.

We aim to address the loneliness and stress factors that have such a big impact on educators. When unaddressed, these influences are also potentially passed on to pupils and are cited to contribute to the high turnover of teachers throughout the profession. Our network has already impacted over 25,000 teachers, all of whom can have access to our app and services for free.

The Opogo apps offer;

-         Daily advice and professional tips

-         Regular vlogs & blogs

-         Community & subject matter experts

-         Online CPD content & courses

-         24/7 career support

-         Leadership mentoring & development

-         NQT support and nurturing

-         Networking & community events

-         Regional meet-up events

-         Tools and features to reduce daily admin

-         Smart matched job opportunities (for job seekers only) 


Our approach means educators always have a strong community to belong to, even if they move between roles in different schools. Alternatively, schools can choose to adapt our platform to build their own bespoke, internal online community, where teachers and head teachers can securely upload their own content, chat and communicate with peers, and view all of the Opogo curated content in one easy to use shared environment.

In order to sustain value, we are investing significantly in partnerships with international thought leaders to ensure we create the best content and insights for our members. They include renowned education experts Diana Osagie, CEO of Courageous Leadership Consultancy; Ross Morrison McGill, also known as @TeacherToolkit; author and consultant Raymond Douglas; and Pete Atherton, teacher, teacher trainer and author of ‘50 Ways to Use Technology Enhanced Learning in the Classroom’.

Effective recruitment

As well as creating a supportive community for educators, Opogo helps to improve schools’ ability to find the teachers they need and teachers’ ability to source the opportunities they are looking for. We call this the Opogo Talent Platform. A simple and efficient  platform it makes it easy for schools and academies to track, bank and hire top quality, fully compliant teachers on a daily, long term and permanent basis, on demand.

The year ahead

As the Government’s new strategy states in its foreword: “Teachers typically enter the profession with energy and a strong sense of collective purpose. Harnessing that energy and purpose, deepening expertise and professionalism and exciting teachers about teaching has never been more important.” Opogo has identified five key trends for the UK education market that will help deliver that goal, and we are dedicated to helping to address the challenges that these trends will present.

1. Teachers’ mental health/workload and their impact on pupils’ ability to learn will become a top priority.

Teacher training lacks focus on mental health and the majority of teachers say they would welcome more help, both to safeguard their own emotional wellbeing and to support pupils. Opogo’s community provides useful training and coaching resources as well as toolkits to streamline workloads. This will help to underpin the Early Career Framework proposed by the DoE to support teachers, whatever their expertise or circumstances, to pursue the right career opportunities for them.

2. Mindfulness teaching in classrooms will become more widespread.

As proposed by the Government, new mental health support teams will be based in and near schools and colleges within 25 areas and will start giving support in 2019. Opogo’s #Teachfit programme will continue to provide mindfulness training sessions for pupils, as well as ‘teach the teacher’ training.

3. More teachers will seek interim positions in line with the trend towards flexible working, supported by the same technology that delivers the platform economy in other sectors.

The gig economy has been slow to reach the highly skilled education market, but emerging technology platforms like Opogo will enable teachers to select short- and mid-term projects in line with their lifestyle choices. One of the key goals of the DoE’s new strategy is to “support headteachers to adapt to changing demands by helping to transform approaches to flexible working in schools” and we believe Opogo can play an important part of that.

4. The use of supply teachers will continue to grow in the UK in line with the overall shortage of qualified professionals.

Ad hoc, highly localised arrangements to find supply teachers on a day to day basis will be replaced by providers with platforms like Opogo that can source teachers with the right experience from a wider geographical pool, including overseas.

5. Employer brand thinking and community development will become more important for schools that want to improve retention rates.

The shortage of qualified teachers is leading many schools to set up the same type of employer brands as corporates, which communicate messages about the culture of an organisation and its USPs. Schools can adapt Opogo’s community platform to build their employer brand while also providing access to in-house and third-party content.

To learn more about our plans and predictions for 2019, please feel free to drop me an email on justyn@opogo.com.

 

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About the CEO

04_TEAM_01_JUSTYN

Justyn Randall

CEO  |  Founder

With extensive experience and strategic skill in building leading global marketing businesses across multiple sectors, Justyn is the CEO and founder of Opogo.

From his deep understanding of the industry and its challenges, Justyn launched Opogo with the prime motivation of transforming the experience of educators within the industry.

Opogo is a community platform designed to help schools attract and retain the talent that’s right for them. Our social hub is packed with rich content from our community experts. And through our ever-evolving Smart Match technology, teachers can be booked for work simply and quickly.

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