Real Connections

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Real Connections's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Real Connections is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Managing Director OliverGosden
Helping to raise
teaching standards
Real Connections consists of Keep Education, Teach Ltd,
Teach Tiny, Plan Staff Now and I Want Supply, and all
of its companies are specialists within the education
recruitment sector. Its aim is to assist all types of school with
a variety of options when recruiting for either short-term or
permanent vacancies. Established in 2003, it has developed a
unique range of offerings, with the goal of providing clients
with a more varied choice of service. Director Oliver Gosden tells
TheParliamentary Review
how this works in practice.
We focus heavily on listening to our clients and aiming to understand the future
of the marketplace, and this thorough approach enables us to appreciate the
challenges that schools and recruiters are currently facing. We continually invest in
our members across the group by offering online training to improve knowledge
and understanding to ensure members feel valued. Along with training, we
organise social events to introduce new and existing members, in order that
they can support each other. Recently, our focus on mental health awareness
has encouraged members to support one another in such a way. It is vital that
members receive a high-quality service and feel comfortable in recommending the
company when representing the group.
Providing a versatile service for teachers
Teachers who are experienced and have consistently worked to a high standard
realise that they are in demand and they are very often able to negotiate pay
rates higher than their equivalent pro rata main pay scale, but this can end up
»Managing Director:
»Founded in 2003
»Based in Luton
»Services: Education
»No. of employees: 30
Real Connections
Highlighting best practice
being costly for both the agency
and the client. With schools facing
continued pressure to raise standards
without incurring increased costs, it
is important we work within the pay
parameters of each individual client.
Costs for all companies have
increased over recent years. Retaining
consultants can be a challenge as
the lure from competitors willing
to headhunt directly and offer a
few thousand pounds more to a
salary, as it’s cheaper than paying an
agency’s finder’s fee, has become
more common. Retention is also a
concern for headteachers and not
just recruitment directors. Poaching
has been an issue understood by
some, but not a practice relished.
The attraction of a Teaching
Leadership Responsibility payment
or a signing bonus is also being
considered by many schools to
stand out at the time of recruiting.
Should this become commonplace,
it has the potential to lead to further
movement of key teachers, creating a
Over the past five years the companies
within Real Connections have needed
to adapt to market conditions. At
times this has not always been viewed
as a positive step; however, listening
to clients’ needs and being versatile
in the type of candidates we supply
has been to our advantage in the
With the introduction of the Crown
Commercial Service, we can foresee a
change in how recruitment companies
charge for permanent services and
potentially temporary supply needs
as well. With these possible changes,
companies will need to look at the
overall internal costs. This could mean
more online services being provided to
try and reduce the costs faced when
using conventional methods. Schools
and academies have been aware for
some time that the buying power they
hold as a group could entitle them to
larger discounts, which could be seen
as a benefit to smaller schools joining
a consortium to ensure they don’t miss
out on the benefits afforded to the
larger MATs.
Creating new solutions
for the future
Retention is
also a concern
and not just
Diversifying and improving
It will still be important to offer a wide
variety of services to clients to suit
their individual needs but the need to
be bolder with choices is only going
to get higher. This is why we currently
offer a range of ways for clients to
engage, from the conventional agency
to a call centre-style service through
to an online-only service along with a
software solution.
Real Connections has recently
developed an online platform called
Plan Staff Now, which can manage
and help grow a client’s current supply
pool while giving access to thousands
of educational professionals’ direct
contact details. This was designed with
the sole purpose of allowing clients
greater access to and choice of the
staff they need, not only for tomorrow
but also next term or even next year.
Due to the nature of the service and
the huge cost savings, it has been
initially met with trepidation but as
time moves on, we envisage it having
a large impact on the sector due to the
level of cost savings.
The standards expected from
recruitment agencies within our sector
have rightly become a significant
focus of clients when deciding which
company to choose. We have made
the decision to obtain a suitable
accreditation via either APSCO or REC
Audited to continue to offer peace
of mind for clients. We have been
apprehensive about this, but after
having held the REC Quality Mark
for so long and for it to be often
unrecognised by potential clients who
are now more commercially aware,
we feel now is the right time for this
accreditation. In this way, we hope to
enhance the service that we provide
to our clients to ensure they achieve
peace of mind when contacting
any of the companies within
In order for us to grow as a group, our
plan is to increase the area we service
without losing focus on our current
client base. The most exciting venture
for the group will be the nationwide
service of Plan Staff Now and our
online service of I Want Supply.
We have recently
developed an
online platform
called Plan Staff
Now, which can
manage and help
grow a client’s
current supply
pool while giving
access to
thousands of
contact details
Working with schools
across the UK

This article was sponsored by Real Connections. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister