Family & Education

Digital duo win £5m investment for ‘smarter’ find-a-teacher service

Zen Educate says it is making it cheaper for schools to hire supply teachers


A digital teacher recruitment agency founded by two Jewish entrepeneurs has secured additional investment of more than £5million to fuel its plans for expansion.

Zen Educate, which was launched by Slava Kremerman and Oren Cohen two and a half years ago, specialises in finding supply teachers for schools.

It believes its online service is faster and cheaper than traditional recruitment agencies, enabling a school to book a teacher in less than 30 seconds.

UK schools, said Mr Kremerman, “are under an immense amount of financial pressure right now. That’s why we’re committed to cutting down supply cover costs significantly, so they can spend more on what matters — the children, not on agency fees.”

They say Zen has helped the average school cut the cost of supply cover by 20 to 30 per cent and that it has saved the education system around £600,000 since its launch.

The new £5.6 million of funding, led by ed-tech venture capital firm Brighteye Ventures, has brought Zen Educate’s overall investment to more than £8 million.

The agency is accredited by the Department for Education’s Supply Teacher Framework, which was set up last year to help schools find cost-effective ways to plug gaps.

English schools are estimated to spend £1.3 billion a year on supply cover.

Zen has a specialist team member for Jewish schools, Yehuda Simon, who joined 15 months ago.

He calculates the 21 Jewish schools he has worked with so far have saved around £50,000 by using Zen.

Jewish schools, Mr Cohen explained, “may have needs that are different from other schools such as shorter working days on Friday, dress codes or school holidays”.

Freelance teachers may also need to know what they can eat on premises.

Zen currently works with 4,000 teachers in London and since June has a team dedicated to Manchester. It plans to expand to other cities in the country.

As well as its supply role, it also aims to increase its use to recruit permanent staff.

Its target, Mr Kremerman said, is “to save the education system £100 million per annum by 2024, with our smarter approach to recruitment.”

Recruitment remains a permanent challenge for schools with a high proportion of newly qualified teachers leaving the profession full-time within a few years.

Some teahcers prefer to work part-time because of the stress, Mr Cohen says, while others may want to combine work with studying.

There are also retired teachers who want to keep their hand in and value the flexibility of supply teaching.

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