Fife headteachers looking for supply cover can now "txt" for help following the launch of a new database service.
Fife has now implemented plans, first revealed in The TES Scotland (July 23 last year), to become the first council in Scotland to harness mobile phone technology in the quest to match supply and demand.
The initiative comes after the successful introduction last year of an automated messaging service to alert people to road, school and other council closures.
All supply teachers registered with the council in Fife have now been asked to supply e-mail and mobile phone contacts if they want to participate.
Location and availability details of more than 400 teachers are currently registered with the council's intranet website allowing schools to search quickly and be shown a list of matching supply teachers who could fill specific absences.
Schools simply click the ones they want to contact - up to 10 at a time - and the electronic system automatically triggers an e-mail andor text message. The message specifies the name of the school, the length of the placement and gives the school's telephone number for supply teachers who want to take up the opportunity.
Fife's 146 primary schools began using the system in the new year, with other schools expected to come on stream in the near future. The benefit for the school is that the system is quicker and more efficient. From the supply teachers' perspective, the advantage is that they no longer miss out on job opportunities because they did not get the message in time.
Moira Tweedie, headteacher of Crossford primary, was one of the first to use the system. She said: "We needed to find a supply teacher quickly to cover an unexpected absence. Previously we could have spent the whole morning calling round, often contacting supply teachers who already had other contracts. This new system is simple and, most importantly, quick.
Within the hour we had secured someone."
In the first three days of operation, almost 30 schools sent out just under 400 messages to set up more than 100 contracts with supply teachers. Some schools are using the alert not just for immediate vacancies but to fill vacancies they know are coming up in the next few months.