A training and recruitment provider in north Cumbria is urging more people to consider a career in teaching amid supply teacher and supply teaching assistant shortages in the county.

System People said they have a number of supply teacher and supply teaching assistant vacancies and are also hoping to take on more apprentices who are considering a career in education.

System People Commercial Director, Lynsey Fitheridge said that a number of factors are at play in causing a shortage of supply teachers in the county.

“There’s definitely a concern about it and there are definitely vacancies,” said Ms Fitheridge.

On the reason behind the lack of supply teachers, she added that it was down to a mixture of factors, including existing issues being exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said: “Rural and more remote schools often struggle due to the longer commutes.

“We are at the mercy of quite irregular buses here in Cumbria. [Supply teachers] have to drive and often the routes aren't the easiest to get to.

“We’ve all seen how much pressure teachers are under now. The Covid-19 pandemic definitely put a strain on staff last year.

"The demand for teaching assistants has also risen dramatically after lockdown because a lot of the schools are trying to get extra one to one help for pupils that need catch-up support.

“We’ve had a higher number of teaching assistant vacancies called in since then.

“[A shortage of supply teachers] was already a problem, but Covid-19 has exacerbated it."

Ms Fitheridge said she wants to open peoples' eyes to the benefits of supply teaching and being a supply teaching assistant, adding: "It is a great profession, and supply teachers especially get a nice mix of being a teacher and maybe not having some of those associated stresses that a permanent opportunity brings.

“Being a supply teacher or teaching assistant allows people to have flexibility, which I think I think we have all realised we want after lockdown. And, they can work as little or as much as they like to fit around the home life and other interests.

“There is also variety. They could be in different locations or different schools, meeting lots of different teachers and kids.

“Some may want that continuity and they can pick and choose because there’s enough work.

“If you are motivated by seeing others learn and watching people grow and develop, it’s very rewarding.

“For subject-specific teachers, you’re getting to share your passion for a particular subject every day with other people.”

Teacher at Cumwhitton Primary School and National Education Union Vice President, Louise Atkinson, said she also noticed that schools are struggling to get supply teachers and supply assistant teachers in.

She said: “People get into teaching because they love and care about it, but there’s only so far you can push that and I think it’s been pushed to the nth degree.

“It’s a massive concern because students and young people need well qualified professionals in front of that class.

“If you’re struggling to get hold of a supply teacher, then your options are either doubling up classes or you’re asking a teaching assistant to take a class.

“Those children deserve and should have a qualified teacher teaching them."

As well as a passion for teaching, System People are looking for for applicants with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and a level 3 qualified teaching assistant.

They also offer teaching assistant apprenticeships that provide a level three teaching assistant qualification.

You can find more information on opportunities and see vacancies that are on offer this term here.

You can also follow System People on their supply teaching Facebook page or apprenticeships Facebook page