Month: July 2021

Meet Esme – CEO Affinity Workforce

Esme Bianchi-Barry has held the position of Affinity Workforce since 2019. During this time, the company has acquired a new business, developed its provision and successfully steered its way through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Having joined the company as a Graduate Recruitment Consultant in 2010, Esme has progressed her career within the organisation holding various roles from Team Leader, Branch Manager, Regional Manager, Operations Director and Managing Director.

We recently caught up with Esme to discuss her career highlights, find out what the role of a CEO entails and discover her biggest career achievement so far.

Describe your role in a nutshell…

Operational responsibility for the Monarch Education, CER Education and Sugarman Education businesses, reporting to the Board of Directors. Involved in all aspects of running a successful recruitment business from hiring, sales, marketing and from time to time even ordering the milk!

Day to day, my role is to ensure the business is on track to achieve its financial targets and that we have a happy and engaged workforce. Constantly reviewing, checking and challenging strategy to ensure we are always achieving to the highest standard and generally being the beacon of positivity!

Tell us about your career journey so far…

I started in 2010 as a graduate recruitment consultant, initially, I had only planned to work in the role for a year as I had been awarded a place on a PGCE the following September. Having enjoyed my first year in recruitment I decided to turn down my place and continue in the role.

My career progressed through various roles in the business from Team Leader to Branch Manager, to Regional Manager, Operations Director and finally Managing Director at Monarch Education. In February 2019 I was offered the position of Chief Executive Officer across Affinity Workforce, encompassing the CER, Sugarman and Monarch Education brands.

One of my career highlights has to be winning Team of the Year whilst I was the Manager of Monarch’s Bristol Branch. Even to this day I see this as one of my biggest and most memorable achievements as well as supporting the business through 3 sales and ensuring continuity of core value propositions.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am a big football fan and support Bristol City, I have been a season ticket holder for the last 3 seasons and I am really hoping for a promotion to the Premier League soon! I spend lots of time with my friends and family and am lucky that the majority of those people still live in my native Bristol. I am a bit of a foodie and enjoy eating out, especially at my sister’s restaurant in Bristol Adelina Yard (shameless plug!).

What has been the highlight of your career so far? What have you felt most proud of?

I feel proud and honoured every day to be able to lead such a talented and passionate team of recruiters and managers. Sometimes I pinch myself and wonder how I got here as I still see myself as very much part of the team and still love picking up the phone and talking to clients and candidates.

Who do you look up to?

A bit cheesy but 100% my mum! She has three daughters and has always taught us to believe in ourselves, treat others with respect and kindness, and always work hard! My Dad is an absolute legend as well though so deserves some credit too!

I have been lucky to work with some amazing women in education recruitment. My first manager taught me discipline and resilience, lessons that have stayed with me throughout my career.

What does the future look like for education?

Who knows, 12 months in recruitment can change a lot! All I know is that for now I am focused on building Affinity Workforce into one of the most respected and successful education recruitment businesses in the UK.

Have you felt you’ve had to overcome any hurdles as a woman in leadership?

Genuinely, not very many. But maybe that’s because I have always ignored them. I don’t think anyone should let another person stand in their way regardless of gender!

What would you say in a letter to your 12-year-old self?

My 12-year-old self was ok, it was around the age of 18-22 that I probably needed to have a word with myself! I would tell that person to make sure they were always respecting the people and opportunities around them and not to take them for granted!

You can find out more about Affinity Workforce by visiting their website.


Career paths and opportunities in Education

Working in the Education sector is a challenging but fulfilling vocation that offers a wide variety of career progression opportunities.

From teaching to non-teaching jobs such as pastoral, support or even headteacher roles, there are many different positions available within the sector.

We outline the different career progression routes within education for both teaching and non-teaching staff.

Teaching Roles
There is always a high demand for teachers in the UK, so there are always jobs opportunities available. Whether it’s working as a permanent member of staff or working as a supply teacher in different schools, you have different options to fit your lifestyle.

There are many opportunities for you to progress your career and continue to teach including:

Head of Department
As part of this role, you will be responsible for leading, managing and developing the subject area as well as leading, training and managing staff within the department.

Head of Year
This role focuses more on the pastoral care of a group of students, rather than a subject area. A Head of Year is responsible for overseeing the behaviour, safeguarding and attendance of a year group and will liaise with parents and guardians as well as pupils.

Deputy & Assistant Head Teacher
These roles are senior positions within the school. As part of their role, they work with the Headteacher to promote the school’s vision and values and provide leadership and management of the teaching and learning of all pupils.

You must have experience as a teacher and the above roles to become a Headteacher. A Headteacher is responsible for the school’s finances as well as creating the academic programme, employee training, assessing, and tracking student progress and ensuring the safety of all students.

Non- Teaching Roles

Teaching Assistants
This role is very varied from preparing the classroom, planning learning activities and supervising group activities. If there are some pupils with particular individual needs, some teaching assistants may work one-to-one or in small groups.

Learning Support Assistant
As a Learning Support Assistant, you will provide support for pupils with special educational needs and ensure that the pupils can integrate, as fully as possible, in the activities generally undertaken by the class.

Pastoral Managers
The purpose of this role is to oversee the welfare of the pupils, as well as work with pupils with behavioural issues. You will also oversee attendance issues and contribute to the mentoring of under-performing pupils.

Find the perfect role for you!
Working in education is a rewarding career that requires hard work, compassion and commitment, and there are roles that depend on a huge variety of personal and professional skills.

At Sugarman we are dedicated to helping you find your perfect role. Search our Job Board for our latest roles in your area, or request a call from one of our advisors, who can help match you to your dream job.


Education Conference 2021

Every July we hold our prestigious Affinity Workforce Education Conference. This is our most anticipated event of the year, which celebrates the successes of the last 12 months, highlights our top performers within the business and gives the teams a chance to let their hair down after a busy school year.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, this year was different to most. For the very first time we held the conference virtually, streaming across all 3 brands, in 6 locations, with almost 150 employees enjoying croupiers, casino tables and lots of fizz!

Let’s take a look at some of the winners…

Star Performer: Every year, our star performers are awarded based on recommendations by their branch managers, highlighting their exceptional work during the past 12 months and what they have done to stand out as key team members. This year’s winners are:

  • Ricky Cano – Monarch – Bristol
  • Paul Prescott – CER – Liverpool
  • Lynn Hardwick – CER – Newcastle
  • Keeley Jones – Monarch – Birmingham
  • Natalie Moody – CER – Newcastle
  • Chris Pender – CER – Sheffield

 Consultant of the Year: The winners of Affinity’s ‘Consultant of the Year’ award have shown an outstanding work ethic during the last year, have hit financial and KPI targets and generated large revenue across the brands. As well as showing great enthusiasm and dedication in their role, they have built strong relationships with their candidates and provided an efficient service. The winners are:

  • Adam Turnbull – CER – Newcastle
  • Anita Mason – Monarch – Birmingham
  • Kevin O’Connor – Sugarman – London

 Top Biller:  Our top billers are awarded in each sector for billing the highest gross profit for the business. The winners are:

  • Top Biller Primary (CER) – Elaine Berry – Liverpool
  • Top Biller Primary (Monarch) – Louise Roadknight – Birmingham
  • Top Biller Secondary (CER) – Jamil Albarq – Newcastle
  • Top Biller Secondary (Monarch) – Chris Moon – Bristol
  • Top Biller (Sugarman) – James Cooney – London

There have been many changes to the conference due to the recent pandemic, one of which is the prize awarded to the top billers and consultants of the year. Those who are lucky enough to win the sought after titles would usually be treated to an all-expenses trip to LAS VEGAS. Sadly, due to the current travel restrictions, a STAYcation is in order.

Therefore, the winners will be treated to an overnight trip to London. This includes an Oxford Street shopping trip, Selfridges vouchers, a 5-course meal at the award-winning Murano Restaurant and an overnight stay in a top hotel.

Our other winners of the night include:

  • Best Newcomer – Matty Hope – CER – Newcastle
  • Business Supporter of the Year – Laura Kilminster – Monarch – Birmingham
  • Team of the Year – CER Newcastle
  • Team of the Year – Monarch Birmingham
  • Manager of the Year – David Parsons – CER Newcastle


Not only did we celebrate the achievements of the last 12 months, but we also acknowledged our longest-serving CER member, Elaine Berry.

Elaine started out as a Trainee Recruitment Consultant 25 years ago! She is now the Senior Divisional Operations Manager for CER Liverpool and has been a huge support to her team and a passionate and dedicated role model for many. Elaine was presented with some wonderful gifts and celebratory messages from her team.

Congratulations Elaine!

A huge well done to all of our winners and to everyone for making our first virtual conference a huge success!

Stay tuned for some conference highlights on our social media pages. Here’s to the Education Conference 2022!


Winding down for summer

With the end of the school year in sight, it is natural for teachers and pupils to begin winding down for the summer holidays. After a challenging and unusual school year, some may find it hard to shut off from their everyday routine and take work home with them, so they do not fall behind. It is so important to maintain a healthy work-life balance and take time out in the summer holidays for yourself.

Before you start your summer holidays, reflect on your experiences during the past academic year. What were your successes? What challenged you and how did you overcome these? What are your targets for the next academic year? Write down your ideas, plans and vision including lesson ideas, classroom displays and priorities.

Make plans
Set time aside to do the things you enjoy; start a new hobby or schedule some time with friends. This will allow you to switch off from work and focus on something other than marking coursework or lesson plans! Spending time with others, who do not work in your industry, will also help to disconnect from work.

Set boundaries
Be sure to switch off any work phones/laptops that may distract you. If you need to catch up with work over the holidays, write a list of all the things you would like to achieve before the start of the new academic year. Once you have made your list, set a suitable date and time when you can really concentrate and spend a day or two preparing for the new term. Don’t leave it until the last minute!

Get outdoors
It is proven that spending time outdoors, be it exercising or socialising, is great for your mental health and will boost your mood. Why not head out for a picnic or go for a long walk? Make the most of the nice weather we may only have a few days of sun!

Surround yourself with family
Some may find it hard to connect with their family as much as they would like, due to busy work schedules and demanding work hours. If you have children, plan some great days out or get creative with some arts and crafts. Your
children need the break as much as you do!

If you are looking for a new challenge, why not consider working as a supply teacher? There are many benefits to registering with Sugarman Education.

Our job is about finding the best people to work in our schools. Whether you’re looking for a supply cover role or a long-term position, we’re confident we can match you with the perfect school. Find out more here.


Keeping motivated as a teacher

With the end of the academic year in sight, it can be hard for teachers to stay motivated. This year in particular has been a very strange school year, with many teachers having to change the traditional methods of teaching in the classroom to online lessons and remote learning. 

At this time of year, pupils are already looking forward to their summer holidays but with the added disruption of remote working and classroom-based teaching, it is a challenging time for most teachers who are feeling exhausted. 


So, we have some tips to keep you motivated and your pupils focused before your well-earned rest.

Be creative

Introducing interactive games or discussions to your lesson plans will help keep your pupils engaged. There are lots of resources from training courses, free online resources and books to help you develop as teachers, so take the time to read through these for interactive game ideas. 

Teach outdoors  

Although there are current social distancing rules in place, why not take the class outdoors. Changing the location of teaching will not only be an exciting change for the pupils, but it will also keep you and your students refreshed for the rest of the day. 

Being outside, surrounded by nature is great for your mental health. You don’t need to take your pupils far, you can teach within the grounds of the school such as on the school playground, on the field or in a school garden.

Try something new 

If you feel like you have fallen into a routine with your lesson plans and feel stuck in a rut, why not engage with your colleagues or other teachers. Sharing best practices and ideas with colleagues will help you find some inspiration on how to mix up your lessons.

There are also lots of groups on social media and blogs where teachers share ideas and lesson plans. You can join these groups to share and read about other experiences. 

Take care of yourself 

Teaching is a demanding job, which makes it so important that you have plenty of rest, planning and keeping healthy.

Do something for yourself every day, whether it is reading a book or catching up with friends on the phone, it is so important to give yourself time to switch off from work and focus on yourself. If you have a hobby, make time for it as much as you can, so that you can return to work refreshed and focused on your role.


If you’re looking for a new challenge, we have lots of opportunities to take that next career step. Our friendly consultants are here to offer guidance and provide the best support for your new role.

Find out more about the opportunities available here or get in touch today via our Contact Page and see how we can help you!


Sugarman Education appoints Mental Health First Aiders

At Sugarman we believe everyone’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. As part of our commitment to our employees’ wellbeing, we have appointed Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA) across our organisation to provide support to individuals who are experiencing poor mental health and/ or emotional distress.

Our MHFAs have completed a recognised, accredited training course by MHFA England to equip them to:

  • Have an understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing;
  • Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues;
  • Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress;
  • Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgmental listening; and
  • Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support, whether through self-help resources, the employer, or the NHS.

Our MHFAs are not qualified therapists or psychiatrists but are there to provide non-judgemental listening and guidance to our employees. 

Esme Bianchi-Barry, CEO of Sugarman, who is leading on the initiative, said: “We are committed to ensuring our employees, who may be struggling with their mental health, have the right level of support and guidance in place.

“Our Executive Team recognises the need for wellbeing support, especially during the current pandemic. Our dedicated team of first aiders will promote a workplace culture where staff are free to discuss mental health issues openly and feel supported by their colleagues and Employer when they do so.”


ECT – What are your options?

After all of your hard work and qualifying as a new teacher, you may be wondering what your next step is? How do you apply for your new role? Are you interested in a particular sector?

Supply teaching can offer you a great work-life balance, a variety of experiences in several school settings and can be the first step to a rewarding career. It will give you the chance to explore different classroom settings, so you can decide how you want to progress in your teaching career.

Not only will you be at the beginning of your new career, but you will also be likely to face a more challenging classroom environment since the Coronavirus Pandemic. This is the reality for today’s trainee teachers: school closures, remote teaching and, for some, personal circumstances may have overshadowed your training year.

Here at Sugarman, we can provide short or long term work to suit you. There are many benefits to both, which will help you gain exposure to a range of different learning styles and receive great training opportunities first-hand. Now that classrooms are full again, we are guaranteed to find you a suitable school to gain the experience you need. 

So what are your options?

Short Term

Short term work allows you to sample several different schools, ranging in a variety of age groups and learning capabilities. You will gain exposure to a wide range of teaching styles, with mentoring on the job and the chance to observe experienced teachers who are happy to offer support. 

By gaining ideas from various learning techniques you can use that knowledge to become an established teacher, which can guarantee regular work and consistent pay.

Long Term 

Monarch can offer long term roles such as maternity cover, which is a great way to cover your ECT induction period. Every ECT must complete an induction period which is equivalent to 3 school terms including regular observations. Completing a long term role is a great way to sample different subject topics that you may not have a chance to teach in a short term role

Tempany McFadden, an ECT from 2019, told us:Going into different schools allows me to see the different ways in which they teach, behaviour management strategies, new schemes of work and I ‘magpie’ these ideas and apply them to my teaching which has been recognised in other schools.’

What makes a successful supply teacher?

  • Go the extra mile – make yourself available at all times and be flexible when it comes to placements. Offer to work whenever you can at short notice, this will give you a better chance at securing something more permanent
  • Come prepared – Have a structured lesson plan and always arrive on time
  • Be confident – Teaching a classroom of students can be challenging, be firm and have your discipline plans in place from the beginning of the lesson
  • Listen – Children may be more anxious/curious about being back at school after lockdown and may find it hard to settle back into learning. Be sure to be patient and acknowledge if there are pupils who may be struggling
  • Talk – Be sure to communicate with colleagues around you and ask as many questions as possible. Always seek advice from more experienced teachers who can provide tips on how to make your first year a success
  • Ask for feedback – This is the best way for you to improve in each lesson and to make sure you have a proper handover at the end of the day

Petrina Gaile has reaped the benefits of our supply work during the last year. She says:There are so many good parts, from meeting new people, gaining a vast amount of experience and getting your name in schools for possible long term work. Another good part is the fact that despite having the main consultant, many other staff members who try their hardest to get you out into schools’.

Monarch is here to take you into your new career, offering guidance and providing the best support for your new role. Get in touch with our friendly recruitment consultants today via our Contact Page and see how we can help you.



Managing stress as a teacher

This month, the Samaritans launch their annual ‘Talk to us’ campaign. This is to highlight the importance of good mental health and encourages people to speak out who are struggling. Teaching can be a demanding job, especially during the recent pandemic. Teachers may have felt isolated and anxious whilst juggling their workload and teaching children both remotely and in the classroom.

In March 2021, 82% of teachers described themselves as stressed. Excessive workload and long hours have been sighted as the main factors of stress. With teachers adapting to various methods of schooling and the uncertainty Covid restrictions in the next academic year, it is important to have a work-life balance and take rest when needed.

So we have put together some tips on how to manage stress as a teacher:

Set priorities – Make sure you plan your lessons in advance and manage your time effectively. Do not take on too much work and say ‘No’ if you feel that you are overwhelmed. Make a list of tasks to take on that week and keep your classroom organised. If you have a long list of things to finish, prioritise. What is the most pressing piece of work
to complete? What can I finish before the end of the school day?

Ask for help – Whether you are an NQT or an experienced teacher, don’t be afraid to ask for help. A colleague may have a certain lesson plan or teaching tips that may be useful to you. Being honest may relieve some of your stress levels.

Get outside – During breaks between lessons, try to spend some time outdoors and get some fresh air. Studies have shown that any form of exercise releases endorphins which will reduce feelings of stress, clears your mind and helps you to feel refreshed.

Go about your routine – Whether it’s a playlist you listen to on the way to work, ten minutes you set aside in the day to sit quietly, a hot beverage whilst at your desk, whatever you choose you will feel like you’ve regained control and it will ease stress. Try to arrive at work early to mentally prepare for the day ahead.

Reduce caffeine intake – This stimulant in coffee can increase feelings of anxiety. Try to limit yourself to one tea/coffee per day, especially whilst teaching!

Keep work at work! – There are times when you may have to take your work home due to the amount of marking or lesson planning you need to do. If you can, try to maintain that work-life balance. If you can complete your work before you leave the classroom for the day, you can then enjoy your free time.

If you would like to find out more information about the Samaritans campaign and how you can get
involved, visit their website here.

If you’re looking for a new opportunity in education, contact your local branch to discuss your next
career move. You can find out more details on our Contact Page.