Teaching Support are specialists in the recruitment of experienced teaching assistants. We are the only agency who specifically recruit teaching assistants rather than teachers and general education professionals. I set up the business as I recognised there was a gap in the market for an agency who could supply quality support staff to special needs schools and to mainstream schools who have SEN (special educational needs) pupils that require specialist support.
At Teaching Support we all genuinely care about the schools that we work with and getting the right candidate to work with each child every time. We build very strong relationships with the schools we work with. Unlike other agencies we will work in the schools every term so we can be sure that we are recruiting the right people for them. This is really important as we work with the schools PRUs (Pupil Referral Units) catering for children with significant emotional and behavioural difficulties. The children have often been permanently excluded from one or more of their previous schools. They are often very challenging, have huge barriers to learning and may also be both physically and verbally abusive. It is vital we find the right staff especially when working with specialist support schools for children with profound and multiple disabilities including those who are physically disabled as well as often being non-verbal. The type of person and the skill set that you are looking for when recruiting for these schools is very different. That is why it’s so fundamental that we work in the schools and have regular meetings to ensure we understand the school’s needs.
Sophie Timms on running Teaching Support…
I set up Teaching Support nearly 4 years ago after working for another company who also recruit for schools. I was 26 at the time and I wanted to offer a really personal and caring service to schools, something that was people focused rather than target focused.
The area of development that I have had to work on the most is my ability as a manager. I have 3 permanent members of staff and I recognised management does not come easily to me! I initially found it very difficult to explain to people what I wanted from them and raising queries with them if I felt they were doing something wrong. It’s obviously essential to the growth of any business that everyone is working towards a common goal. I realised that by shying away from telling people what I wanted was actually detrimental to the business. You can’t expect people to understand what you want if you haven’t told them. I have had situations (specifically the use of mobile phones) which I have found very difficult to tackle. I used to worry that it would cause friction in the office – I think I wanted to be everyone’s friend rather than their manager. As I have mentioned before I have a fantastic team and I learnt people would much rather that you tell them how you are feeling. If you lay down ground rules and explain your reasons behind them, then people will respect you. As long as you are reasonable I have found it creates a better environment for people to work in.
The business has grown year on year. I started working at home on my own and now having an office with a team of 4. I was a runner up in The Kent Business Woman of the Year awards which was really exciting, especially as I was 9 months pregnant at the time. That was a huge honour for me and the team – not to mention a particularly good send off for my maternity leave! As a business Teaching Support has grown over 300% this year alone which is something that we are all very proud of. We have maintained integrity and worked really hard as a team to build the business, it just shows all the hard work has paid off.
“I think that one of the key things to building up any business is to accept help from others and to ask for help from those around you. People on the whole are really keen to support young men and women in business so accept their advice and take help from wherever you can!”