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Northern tech specialists collaborate in innovation for education sector

The pioneers behind the technology revolutionising how schools recruit full-time, supply and cover teachers, have partnered with Yorkshire-based Vapour Cloud to introduce video to their industry-changing digital platform.

Liverpool-headquartered SupplyWell hit the headlines earlier this year, keen to save schools up to 50% on recruitment fees. A staggering £1.26bn is reportedly spent on supply teachers each year, with up to £520m going to agencies. An intuitive application with a real-time algorithm has therefore been developed to put schools and high-calibre teachers in direct contact, so that together they can find the perfect match as vacancies arise.

And now plans are in place to roll out Vapour’s WebRTC-powered video technology Gaze, to further strengthen the effectiveness of the tool.

Currently being used by SupplyWell’s management team to ‘meet’ all teachers before they are accepted onto the platform, Gaze provides a media-rich opportunity to hold a secure, encrypted and recordable video call, powered by a free, simple SMS.

Quickly impressed with Gaze’s capabilities, SupplyWell’s founders are now working with Vapour to integrate video into their core technology. The move means that, by Q1 of 2020, schools and prospective teachers will be able to communicate ‘face-to-face’ wherever they may be, as they work towards making a recruitment decision.

Commenting on the decision, SupplyWell’s co-founder Dan Price said: “There is a strong ‘tech for good’ ethos within our company – something we identified as the driver behind Vapour’s TeleDOC video solution. This shared sense of purpose is what kickstarted our conversations.

“We explained how, in addition to saving schools money, SupplyWell is working hard to improve wellbeing levels within the education sector too. My business partner and former teacher Michael Heverin has witnessed first-hand the physical and mental health issues within the profession – not to mention overwhelming absence rates. That’s why our platform has also been engineered to create tailored recommendations designed to improve schools’ cultures, while providing on the ground intervention and counselling.

“By proactively helping schools reduce teacher absence – not to mention associated costs – pupils’ behaviour and performance will naturally improve too. Vapour realised this immediately and knew they could accelerate our ability to address this significant industry opportunity.”

Vapour’s CEO Tim Mercer added: “SupplyWell is like Uber for schools! We were really impressed with the intuitive matching capabilities of the platform when we saw it in action, and knew Gaze could further enhance the team’s proposition.

“The guys told us that teachers have missed roughly 1.3 million days of work over the last four years due to stress and mental health reasons, with 33% reported to be leaving the profession after five years. If there’s anything we can do to help resolve this crisis, this is an extremely powerful and value-adding use of our technology.”

The technology underpinning SupplyWell’s new video capabilities, was first brought to market by Vapour in October 2018. TeleDOC was launched to empower healthcare professionals to have secure video calls with their patients irrespective of location, before the recorded, encrypted conversations are stored to their personal records. The goal was to improve the quality – and cost – of care delivered to patients too ill or unable to travel to a surgery.

SupplyWell is currently being used by ten schools in Liverpool, with the plan to take the platform nationwide by 2020.