Mums returning to work in the Education Sector

Women@Work team spent the afternoon with Olivia Russell, The Coordinator of The Staff Room, the only substitute teacher placement service, taking the region by storm. Here Olivia tells us more about the digital platform and how it can benefit women looking to return to the education sector in a stress-free, flexible manner.

1. Hi Olivia, please Introduce yourself to Women@Work

I was born in Hong Kong and lived in Tokyo, Japan until I was 7 years old when we moved to East Sussex to continue my childhood. I then went to The University of Leeds to study Child Psychology and Child Behavioural Studies, it is here that my passion for educating children blossomed and I completed a year of teacher training in London to gain my Qualified Teacher Status. I then moved to Dubai and continued teaching in a learning institute, The Study Room, which is where the idea of The Staff Room was turned into a reality.

2. How did The Staff Room start?

The owners Dave & Kim Gerber started the substitute teacher placement service from an office at The Study Room. I was extremely happy to start working with them, as the need for great quality substitute teachers is vital in schools across the UAE. Having been a teacher myself, I know the idea of leaving a class with a substitute teacher is daunting, but to know those students are left in the hands of experienced, qualified teachers, makes the transition seamless and reassuring.

3. Tell us a little bit more about The Staff Room?

The Staff Room is the perfect platform for mums who would like to stay within the education sector and stay up to date with the changes in the curriculum’s or KHDA requirements. Furthermore, it allows mums a flexible schedule with time for family, friends and more importantly, themselves. Schools book teachers using our online digital platform and teachers receive notifications via email and text with the job details, including location, timings, subject and rate. The teacher simply logs on and with the click of a button, accept or decline the job depending on their schedule and availability.

4. Tell us more about your role?

I am The Staff Room coordinator, I get the pleasure of meeting, communicating and ensuring all of our teachers are happy and are getting exactly what they want out of The Staff Room. Whether it be only 1 day a week to 5 days a week then a week off, the number of days working is completely up to the teacher. I also meet with the school’s principals and heads of schools to introduce them to The Staff Room community. I regularly visit and communicate with the schools to ensure our teachers are being placed in safe and welcoming environments.

5. What experience do our mums need to apply?

In order to be a part of The Staff Room, the candidate must have a residency visa sponsored by their spouse, teaching experience and a degree. Substitute teachers do not need to necessarily have a teaching qualification but they must have a degree.

6. How can it benefit mums looking to return to the workplace?

The benefit of working at The Staff Room for mums is primarily the appeal of the flexible timetable that is dictated by them. When their child is unwell or during school holidays, mums can be available for their families without the hassle of taking time off work. Doing some part-time substitute teaching also reflects well on the candidates CVs, as it breaks up the gap in their career and shows a commitment to the education sector and determination to stay up to date. Moreover, it is always nice to earn some extra money to contribute or purely to buy yourself a treat!

The Staff Room is a great platform for schools to get to know substitute teachers who are placed in their schools. For teachers looking for permanent positions in the future, The Staff Room is a gateway to get a taste of the different schools and curriculum’s across the Middle East.

7. How do schools benefit from this?

Schools can benefit hugely as they do not need the go through the hassle of calling round anyone they could possibly know to cover a teacher’s lessons. This way, schools are rest assured that they have a pool of great quality substitute teachers to call upon when they need. This pool includes access to specialist teachers to cover lessons such as music, performing arts and social studies, which can be very difficult. For a small membership fee, schools can access the entire substitute teacher pool, view the teacher profiles and book the substitute teachers using the online digital platform as and when they need them. For perspective permanent hires, The Staff Room allows schools to save money by eradicating the need to go through recruitment sites and paying extortionate recruitment fees for both the schools and the teachers.

8. How does the concept of ‘The Staff Room work’?

Please watch our Youtube video on how The Staff Room works!

9. Where can find out more about it?

If you’d like to find out more about The Staff Room and how our service can help mums get back into work, please visit the website or email.

10. How can I apply!

If this sounds like the perfect job for you, please click the link below to apply Staff Room Application or email me your CV to and I’d be happy to meet with you to discuss how The Staff Room can help!