Local entrepreneurs tackle national schools crisis with new digital platform

Local entrepreneurs tackle national schools crisis with new digital platform

New Liverpool start-up SupplyWell has successfully brought its innovative digital platform to market with support from the LCR Activate programme. 

Latest national figures state that £1.26 billion is spent on supply teachers each year and up to £520 million is spent on agency fees in LEA schools alone – £21.5 million of which is in Liverpool City Region.  

SupplyWell’s platform has been developed to address this issue and save schools money by connecting them directly with high calibre teachers, whilst providing wrap around care for those working in the school in a bid to reduce teacher absence and improve retention.  

It does this by using a real time algorithm through an easy-to-use platform for schools and teachers to find the perfect match for short and long-term vacancies. SupplyWell then delivers practical wellbeing services to schools to reduce reliance on supply and keep all their teachers working happily.  

The company, which already has partnerships with St John Bosco and North Liverpool Academy schools, predicts that schools will save an average of 50 per cent on recruitment fees by using its digital platform and teachers will earn more money.  

Michael Heverin, co-founder of SupplyWell and former teacher, said: 

“The lack of consideration from the system regarding the health and wellbeing of teachers is having a detrimental impact. In fact, it’s estimated that teachers have missed 1.3 million days of work over the last four years due to stress and mental health reasons, with 33 per cent leaving the profession after five years. 

“These absences not only push schools to call on sparse budgets for recruitment, but it also filters down to how pupils behave and perform too, which ultimately brings down school results.  

“That’s why we created SupplyWell – to provide a positive solution to a broken sector. We hope to help schools reduce teacher absence, while making significant savings on the associated costs which can be invested back into their health and wellbeing initiatives.”  

The company approached Activate – a part ERDF funded business support programme for the creative and digital sector – earlier this year when the concept was still in its infancy. In order to bring the product to market quickly and effectively, SupplyWell needed support with the financial side of the business, and also technical support to get the platform up and running.  

SupplyWell worked with Activate delivery partner Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) to help improve its route to market, as well as receive guidance on funding options.  

The company was also introduced to Dr Ahmed Kaky, Research Fellows in Computer Science at LJMU who provided technical advice for creating a fit-for-purpose, intuitive and scalable technology platform that delivers the company’s two primary services – recruitment and retention. 

“After accelerating the business 18 months ahead of plan, the Activate programme has instilled us with confidence in what we are doing, and the benefits of being a start-up in Liverpool City Region,” Michael added. “Unlike other UK cities, Liverpool has a really unique way of nurturing innovative ideas into go-to-market products and that wouldn’t be possible without programmes like Activate.” 

Jonathon Clark, Business and Technology Manager at LCR Activate, said: “The SupplyWell platform is an excellent idea to plug a growing issue. It’s great to see a Liverpool City Region start-up make this progress in such a short space of time and the plans for the future are encouraging.”  

Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, Executive Principal at North Liverpool Academy and Director of Collaborative Leadership Ltd comments, “SupplyWell have a strong moral purpose which really resonates with my own vision for how school cultures should be nurtured. Not only is there an economic argument for using them with finding teaching staff but their ambitions to drive the issue of staff wellbeing through schools is refreshing and they are doing something positive in the education sector.” 

Founded by former teacher Michael Heverin, recruitment specialist Raina Gatfield and marketing expert Dan Price, SupplyWell now has ambitious plans to take the platform national, while retaining its Liverpool roots.   

Described as a ‘digital platform with a human focus’, it has a real time matching algorithm to meet specific needs, with a timesheet automation function and practical wellbeing services.  

The technology currently operates on a flat fee basis, cutting out agency fees typically associated with teacher recruitment. The wellbeing aspect of the platform works to create tailored recommendations to improve culture and environment, while providing on the ground intervention and counselling via the company’s partners.  

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