'The new normal' - technology and human contact during lockdown
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On Friday 20th March the ‘new normal’ kicked in across the education sector; schools and colleges closed their doors to all but a handful of students, and everyone else tried to figure out just how to keep calm and carry on.

How is it possible to effectively implement distance learning at scale, and on such a tight time frame, under such trying circumstances?

At Hourglass, we have been watching as our schools got to work building new platforms for educating their cohort. Quite rightly, recruitment has been the last thing on their minds. On a personal note, let’s just say that working from home (i.e. setting up shop in the spare room, whilst my two year old turned the house upside down trying to “find daddy”) took some getting used to.

However, these far-from-perfect circumstances have actually thrown up a unique opportunity for us to re-engage with our teachers. We’re in still touch with many of the hundreds of people who have secured work through Hourglass, and the thousands who have registered with us and continue to rely on us to find new opportunities. It’s clear that uncertainty is a common theme at the moment. Taking time to catch up and hear familiar voices has proved to be as beneficial for both parties as it is cathartic. It’s a lonely and uncertain existence for many of us – and particularly for those who are weighing up their next career move.

One month into lockdown, things are starting to get clearer. In our professional and personal lives we may even have a new outlook on what’s important. The world keeps turning, and come September, a new intake of pupils will (hopefully) be filling the now empty classrooms. Life will get back to normal and children will need schools more than ever, for far more than academic purposes.

Following the Easter break, some of our school contacts have reported that they actually have more clarity in their thinking now that they aren’t getting led astray by the myriad other tasks that come with working in a fully operational school environment – they now have time to assess what’s next on the to-do list without any unwelcome distractions.

Despite the extraordinary challenges we are all facing, the core principle of our business hasn’t changed: schools will always need good teachers. And so the traditional face-to-face interview has given way to the video interview. For some of our clients this is nothing new, but others will appreciate a little more guidance.

Many of our client schools have long recruited in this way, particularly when hiring from overseas. Those that embrace technology are benefitting from the two-way video interview suite that we offer – and we’ve made an extra (and very popular) concession for SLT members who don’t have the time to jump on a co-ordinated video call. We are conducting video interviews with teachers on their behalf, asking the questions they want to ask, and sending them a recording of the answers.

We’re all feeling our way through the darkness at the moment. At Hourglass, we will continue to work closely with teachers and our client schools, and to listen to what they have to say. Happily, just now they’re reminding us that the education sector has more cause for optimism than most.