Digital solutions to teacher shortages: tackling absence and cost

Three things are inevitable in the teaching world: exams, Ofsted inspections and staff absence.

Martin Holyoak

Last updated:

Absenteeism quickly racks up costs — often thousands of pounds per day — but the impact of teacher absence also extends far beyond the budget. Every day a teacher isn’t in class advancing their scheme of work is another day of lost or ineffective learning time for the students.

There’s also the time spent organising cover — the costs of which, again, can be excessive. Luckily, while you can’t stop it altogether, there are technological solutions to preventing teacher absence.

Trends and Patterns

EdTech can help you to spot the issues that cause staff absence and to cure them at their root cause.

One of the most useful functions of modern HR software is the ability to track teacher shortages and easily identify patterns of absence.
Martin Holyoak, Education Product Specialist

There is usually an underlying cause of teacher absence. Where absence patterns are identified, interventions such as counselling can be used to treat the underlying cause as part of a cost-saving strategy, cutting down on teacher absence and illness while also improving staff engagement.

If, for example, a member of staff is experiencing anxiety at work, leading to illness during term time, it could be much cheaper to offer counselling or an occupational work therapist than it would to pay for cover in their absence. As a welcome side-effect, the staff member would also be happier, healthier and look forward to coming into work.

Effective Back-to-Work Interviews

It can be difficult to conduct an effective interview and discover the cause of the issue if your HR team don’t have all the information they need.

If you’ve spotted a pattern of absence, your HR staff will benefit from this knowledge, but obviously, this is a situation which requires a human touch and shouldn’t be judged in advance solely from data.

Back-to-work interviews are an ideal opportunity to discover if the staff member’s absence is because of workplace bullying, stress, or any other number of possibilities, and then set measures in place to counterattack these. If their absence was due to stress, for example, it may be that a reduced-impact return to work could be a more cost-effective solution than putting them straight back in at the deep end.

Automate It

Modern school HR software can even be automated to spot trends and patterns for you. The system will then send you a roll-up of the amount of time absent, a list of prolific absentees, and their specific day rates.

With PS People, you can set a cadence for your report (weekly, monthly) with a choice of recipients, which could include relevant line managers as well as HR. Because it’s automated, it will spot trends that the human eye could miss.
Martin Holyoak, Education Product Specialist

Preventing just one day of teaching staff absence could pay dividends in both expense and educational benefit, and the financial and time-saving benefits easily outweigh the initial cost.

Cost Savings Through Integration

Save school business managers and admin staff the laborious task of absence monitoring and record-keeping by eliminating the need for spreadsheets and documents. Instead, these can be streamlined and automated through absence management software.

PS People’s absence management software has the additional benefits of a cloud-based system. Store your HR information in the cloud, and have real-time integration into PS Financials, providing fully accurate, up-to-date data. There’s no need to duplicate payroll and other information between systems, as it all sits on a single, easily accessible ledger.

If you’re interested in changing the way your school tackles staff absence, visit our website to find out more.

Education, PS People