The Department for Education is looking to former teachers to help fill Covid staffing shortages, with new guidance planned to boost supply staff numbers.
With new reported Covid cases hitting a record high on Wednesday as Omicron spreads, fears are growing over school and colleges’ ability to cope when term resumes in January.
Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi has written to school and college leaders today setting out how they can help “manage the virus”, including urging them to reach out to former colleagues.
The message acknowledges the availability of supply staff is a “particular issue” in areas with high absences. The government is now considering new measures to “boost supply capacity”, Zahawi said.
“We will work with sector leaders and supply agencies over the coming days to offer advice to ex-teachers who want to provide support to schools and colleges.
“We will help them to register with supply agencies as the best way to boost the temporary workforce available to the sector.”
Zahawi said discussions had already begun between senior DfE officials and key stakeholders.
He also said leaders themselves could “support this effort” by using their own networks to “encourage others to sign up to offer temporary help”.
The letter said take-up of the booster jab by staff and young people was “critical” too.
The government had already announced the extension of its Covid workforce fund earlier on Thursday, signalling worries over continued disruption well into the new year.