With a global shortage of teachers, entrepreneurs are turning to digital innovation to try and turn the tide.
After becoming a headteacher in 2013 at the age of 31, Leon Hady became well-known for turning a failing school into one that was rated as Outstanding by OFSTED. A dad-of-three, he believes we have an education emergency fuelled by learning loss due to pandemic and a global teacher shortage. With many of us becoming homeschool teachers, Hady recognised how important e-learning could be and how it could be harnessed to train more professional educators. To this end, he created www.guideplus.co.uk to give all aspiring educators, be they parents, community mentors or wannabe teachers, a comprehensive video-led program of more than 2000 video tutorials, offering a viable alternative to the traditional teacher training route. He has since helped train over 15,000 teachers. We asked him about the business.
Edtech is quite in vogue at the moment, how do you see the sector moving forward?
People are more comfortable with online items so you’ll see more products combining what other products do. Do you recall how Facebook made its own version of TikTok and Clubhouse segments? You’ll see much more of that copying from Edtech companies.
You are aiming to recruit more teachers – what are issues you see with recruiting them at the moment?
We look to create teachers – the research shows that efficacy as a teacher in school isn’t influenced by whether you have a PGCE or Doctorate – it’s most effected by the quality of your mentor. So we believe we can invite people who are committed and passionate to learn their subject and teaching knowledge though more of an apprenticeship style route.
Worth noting I did this for real. When I was a head, and we got the Outstanding mark from Ofsted, I was the only ‘qualified’ teacher in the building, everyone else was on some kind of training with me and was superb, but again, I was the only qualified teacher.
We didn’t do this as some kind of maverick endeavour. Because our school was considered dangerous, qualified teachers never applied and when we got a few in on supply the first fortnight I was there – one left at break, one left at lunch.
They say necessity is the mother of invention and I had to the find the right people and train them hard and fast, it worked, and now we help schools replicate that.
How do you go about recruiting people to produce the materials for your company?
We have a small team who reach out to the right people for each type of course and area of coverage needed. We have a long conversation to ensure they believe in what we believe in, then start the creative process.
How have YOUR kids dealt with the transition between F2F and hybrid/virtual learning over the past 18 months?
My three are six, eight and 11 – the eight-year-old was excellent at using the online distance for mischief. Once she knew she could ‘fiddle’ with class from a distance, she took her chance at every opportunity. She’s much happier back in school.
The 11-year-old really become digitally proficient in that time, she got to know so many programs apps and extensions in google for helping her speed up her work and improve her work. She loved it. In fact, at the end of lockdown she asked to change schools to where she’d be challenged more because she loved doing extra work and extra tasks.
The six-year-old – and this was most telling for me as an ex-head – hated the medium, but would do whatever his teacher said because he adores her. You could see disconnect every single day: didn’t want to get on the computer in the first place, but as soon as he saw his teacher – he was 100% motivated. I took him off after two hours though every day.
We don’t allow screen-time at all in the week, so I took him off for sports, walks and reading etc.
Is teaching perceived within the industry as flexible or not these days?
Sadly so for schools but happily so for teachers. The teaching opportunities outside of schools have never been more abundant with online teaching, tutoring resource creation companies.
People with teaching skills and teaching qualifications have more options than ever.