Ex-teachers urged to return to schools to help with Covid staff shortages

By Claire Schofield
Monday, 20th December 2021, 9:56 am
Updated Monday, 20th December 2021, 9:56 am
Former teachers are being urged to sign up from Monday (20 December) (Photo: Getty Images)
Former teachers are being urged to sign up from Monday (20 December) (Photo: Getty Images)

Former teachers are being urged to sign up from Monday (20 December) to help with Covid-19 staff shortages in the new year.

Those who are available to return to the classroom should apply online as it is expected schools will suffer increased absence levels in the spring term due to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

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The government is warning that some local areas may struggle to find sufficient numbers of supply teachers unless former staff come forward.

It is hoped that those who are recently retired, or trained as a teacher and changed career, can spare some time to help out in the spring term to ensure face-to-face education can continue.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said teachers should start the application process before Christmas Eve to be ready to join the workforce from January.

He said: “It has been my absolute priority since day one in the role to do everything in my power to protect education – which is why today I am asking any teachers no longer in the profession to come forward if they are available to temporarily fill absences in the new year.

“Although 99.9% of schools have consistently been open this term, with cases of Omicron increasing we must make sure schools and colleges have the teachers available to remain open for face-to-face education.

“Anyone who thinks they can help should get the process started now on the Get Into Teaching website, and everyone should get boosted now to help reduce the amount of disruption from the virus in the new year.”

The plea for help comes amid reports that some schools are experiencing very low attendance among teachers and pupils ahead of the Christmas break.

Schools are already preparing for the possibility of having to switch to online learning next term, and some pupils have been asked to take laptops home before Christmas just in case classrooms do not reopen in the new year.

How do I apply?

From Monday, former teachers who wish to sign up can do so now via the Get Into Teaching website.

People are encouraged to approach supply teacher agencies listed on the sign up page, as they will manage local supply.

The Department for Education (DfE) is also helping schools, unions, and supply teacher agencies to reach potential teachers through social media and other communication channels.

The Government will also be working with teacher training programme provider Teach First and will aim to reach people through its own communications channels, including through Get Into Teaching, the Teacher Pension Scheme and internet search advertising.

Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First, added: “Given the challenges that schools now face, we want to see what more can be done to help – including how we, and those of our alumni who have trained as teachers but currently work outside the profession, may be able to support schools to remain open safely in the new year.”