Andy Issott
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Headspace Stories: Meet Joanne Horn and Jordan Bardsley, Branch Manager and Senior Education Recruiter at Empowering Learning

This week, I sat down with Jo Horn and Jordan Bardsley, Branch Manager and Senior Education Recruiter at education recruitment consultancy Empowering Learning. Read on for industry insights and their take on the current teaching crisis.


Who are Empowering Learning?

Jo: Empowering Learning are an education recruitment and training company.

Jordan: We have locations in Manchester, Birmingham, London, Cardiff & will soon be opening an office in Bristol.

What type of work do you do?

Jo: We recruit support staff, teaching assistants and qualified teaching staff for schools. There are different divisions within those as well, some of us look after the primary schools; others take care of secondary and special needs schools.

What makes Empowering Learning unique?

Jo: We’re new to Manchester as a business, but everyone who works here has lots of experience. We already have market knowledge and contacts, the schools know us, and all of our staff come with a reputation from their previous clients. Empowering Learning also runs an education training business – no other business in the industry has a training arm specifically for training in schools.

Jordan: Exactly, you find that a lot of companies take on trainees, whereas here you’ll find that everyone has three years minimum experience in the role from elsewhere. So when they start, they can just get stuck in. It makes it an easy sell to schools when you can upskill their staff as well as your own.

You recently received the ‘Most Improved Office’ Award. What were the biggest factors in achieving this award?

Jo: This was at our company awards ceremony in London last week. We started from scratch in Manchester last January, and what we’ve achieved in the last twelve months is extraordinary and has certainly exceeded expectations through hard work, commitment and tenacity. It helped that we are known in the market, and have worked hard to win back clients from previous agencies.

Jordan: Long days, Long hours. It helped that we had already accrued a lot of contacts. It was a tough twelve months, but it was worth it to create the foundation we have now.

What’s the workflow like?

Jo: There are peaks in our job in terms of when schools need more supply than others, usually when sickness levels are high- this often happens when the seasons change. We’re coming into March now, which is a really busy time of the year for us- it’ll be mad for the next six weeks up until Easter- but I’d say the Winter months are the busiest. Then again it can even get busy in June!

Are there any recent industry trends you have picked up on?

Jo: I’d say there is a huge teaching crisis at the moment. Schools are having more difficulty than ever recruiting teaching staff. Teachers are leaving permanent jobs because of the pressures and demands of the role, and Ofsted plays a huge factor in the pressure school staff are under. The work-life balance in teaching is definitely difficult. This is mostly down to school budget cuts, coupled with long hours and not enough pay, and then Oftsed come in and shake it all up. It’s not an easy job for what you get paid.

Jordan: Teaching staff also get scrutinized on data. Considering an entry-level, newly-qualified Teaching salary is 22k, many often end up working seventy hours a week with pressure from all sides: parents, headteachers, and Ofsted.

What’s your favourite thing about working at Headspace Manchester?

Jo: I’m gonna think about my belly and say the breakfast and the sweet tubs!

Jordan: I do love the breakfasts…

Jo: And the quirkiness, it’s just a cool place to work.


Thank you to Jo and Jordan from Empowering Learning for sitting with me today. If you’re interested in membership or office space at Headspace group, you can visit our website or contact enquiries@headspacegroup.co.uk to speak to a member of our team.

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