Thornbury Academy is based on the outskirts of Bradford, West Yorkshire. They are a three-form entry school with a rich and diverse group of nearly 700 children aged between 3-11 years, speaking 26 languages from all over the world.

Celebrating these differences and putting their pupils at the heart of everything they do, Thornbury Academy believes in nurturing children to allow them to reach their full potential – both in the classroom and in their lives.

The challenge

The backdrop of a national staff shortage, growing demand for ‘just-in-time’ teaching talent, soaring pupil numbers, funding cuts and a spiralling supply cover bill, meant Thornbury Academy turned to GRI (then known as de Poel) to navigate the challenges.

Thornbury Academy’s first and foremost objectives were to fulfil their contractual safeguarding obligations and deliver the very best in primary education, by attracting the very best in teaching talent.

Having used the services of a just one recruitment agency for a number of years, Thornbury Academy was increasingly experiencing issues surrounding quality of staff, a limited talent pool and costs. There was also growing concern about the inability to secure this temporary cover quickly – at a moment’s notice.

In September 2015, Thornbury Academy’s decision to partner with ourselves as an independent neutral vendor expert signalled a new and innovative approach to their supply cover.

The solution

In order to ascertain a true understanding of the situation, we offered to carry out a ‘deep dive’ detailed analysis of Thornbury Academy’s current position.

Our model works by creating a compliant, agency panel whereby all supplying agencies agree to transparent, standardised terms and conditions and rates, where they are locked down in our proprietary software system, known as e-tips®. Candidate bookings are then ordered through e-tips® – a simple, easy and quick way to track and manage the recruitment process.

During the initial analysis of Thornbury Academy’s invoices, potential savings of 10.7% were identified within a detailed cost reduction and operational proposal. We also made recommendations with regard to supplying agencies, adding three further compliant agencies to the panel on Thornbury Academy’s behalf.

When the contract went live, the implementation process took just seven weeks, with a dedicated Contract and Performance Manager available to train staff on systems, supported by a 24/7 fulfilment service.

From the beginning, there were many ‘last minute’ day-to-day cover requests, as Thornbury Academy was in the middle of a recruitment campaign. Our dedicated team worked hard to ensure a smooth transition during this busy period, by assisting Thornbury Academy with administration and dealing with the newly-appointed panel of supplying agencies. As a result of this, 100% of all bookings were fulfilled.

Other results of the partnership have been outstanding, since going live just 12 months ago:

Over 449 hours of quality teaching have been delivered, whilst achieving nearly £8,000 in cost savings. Most crucially, this has not compromised Thornbury Academy’s safeguarding obligations.

Thanks to the GRI approach in the UK, Thornbury Academy now has a single agreement and single set of rates/terms and conditions. Through setting and monitoring KPIs, all four supplying agencies now compete on quality rather than price.

Use of our e-tips® electronic ordering system enables Thornbury Academy’s Business Director, Helen Child, to contact multiple framework-compliant agencies in seconds, with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Thornbury Academy now has access to an increased talent pool of high quality supply cover, ranging from teaching assistants and teachers to caretakers and admin staff. In addition, Thornbury Academy is no longer receiving a high volume of sales calls and spec CVs from agencies, saving precious admin time.

From the outset, and unlike other neutral vendors, we have actively encouraged supplying agencies to foster a more personal working relationship with Thornbury Academy and their Business Director, Helen Child. As a result, supplying agencies now fully understand Thornbury Academy’s own unique requirements, namely that their school hours are different to ‘the norm’ – with Monday to Thursday longer days and a lunchtime finish on Friday, in order to accommodate pupils’ faith commitments.

Compliance is managed via the e-tips® system and meets guidelines set out by the Department for Education (DfE) and framework compliance requirements. In addition, it is backed up by rigorous supplier audits carried out by our contract and performance team on Thornbury Academy’s behalf. Teaching professionals cannot be put forward for a role on the booking system without full compliance checks.

e-tips® has also provided Thornbury Academy with much-needed visibility and control of their supply cover spend, enabling them to forecast efficiently with access to real-time Management Information.

The consolidated, weekly invoice has saved a considerable amount in terms of administration and resource – allowing Thornbury Academy to refocus their time and energy elsewhere.

By the end of the academic year 2015-16, we had delivered 10.8% in costs savings for Thornbury Academy. Additional efficiencies delivered included academy-office processing and supply staff ordering.

Helen Child,  Former Business Director at Thornbury Academy, commented:

"We have been a customer since September 2015. As a school Business Director, the support I get through the arrangement we have lets me focus on other activities, knowing that my best interests are being looked after.

"My contract and performance manager ensures I am always charged correctly and can organise cover if I am unable to get to my system, or am out of the office. I have a single invoice and timesheet system to deal with, and support at the end of a phone if I need it.

"I am not harassed by agencies on a daily basis. The best thing of all, however, is that I am spending less on supply cover than I was before due to the fixed rates for all agencies. I know what my costs will be and can budget accordingly."

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