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3 month rule?

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by Deirds, Oct 18, 2015.

  1. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    My agency wants my character references checking if I go 3 months without working for them. Always a problem after Summer holidays. I don't really see the logic. Is this usual?
     
  2. PizzoCalabro

    PizzoCalabro Established commenter

    They really are taking the proverbial! I suspect they want tot see what other agencies you are working for.
    Last year, one of my agencies got me intermittent work, was ok until Easter when a spivvy wide-boy was employed as my 'manager'. He only found me one day in May. Then at the end of August they told me that due to lack of days with them I needed to 're-register' and give ref from other agencies!
    I did not tell them to take a running-jump. Just didn't respond, and signed up with another agency instead, who have found me plenty of (better, nearer) work this term.
    Don't bother dancing to their tune - go elsewhere.
     
    Tanyashi likes this.
  3. teacha

    teacha Occasional commenter

    One of my agencies does this automatically if I haven't worked with them for three months. I have to provide a proof of address and give references.
     
  4. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    Different agencies have difference compliance rules and some are more rigid then others. I was with one who also followed this three month rule. They were particularly fussy if you have been out of teaching for a while or had been overseas for anything longer then a normal holiday duration.
     
  5. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    Thanks for the replies - good to know I'm not alone. I'll start badgering my long-suffering friends yet again...sigh
     
  6. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    Another reason I suspect that agencies used to do this was to get you to pay for yet another CRB check. The newer online DBS service should have done away with this sort of thing.
     
  7. educ80

    educ80 Occasional commenter

    Apsco compliance+ regulations state that any period of work longer than 12 weeks for which you do not have references renders you non-compliant. You may view this an inconvenience but the checks are there to protect children and yourself.
    If you were to hire someone who couldn't account for the last three months of their lives then you too would want references. Someone can be in and out of prison in that time (worst case scenario of course but that's safeguarding).
    On another note, if an agency charges you £44 for a DBS then they aren't making any money out of it so I can't see the benefit to making you do another one unless it's essential. It is the responsibility of the teacher to then sign on to the update service within the 19 day window in order to ensure you don't pay the £44 every year.
    Hope this helps shed some light using actual information rather than the disgruntlement of supply teachers on here who don't like working with their agencies.
     
  8. PizzoCalabro

    PizzoCalabro Established commenter

    I can buy that, but when that agency haven't offered you any work in that time, is prob time to find a new agency, rather than jumping thru hoops for them...
     
  9. educ80

    educ80 Occasional commenter

    Absolutely. I am a branch manager of a large agency in Yorkshire and often come across the topic, it is quite emotive and I understand that people get frustrated but September is quiet, we dont make the compliance rules we simply follow them, and any agency worth their salt will want to find work for you because that is how they survive.
    I am a huge believer in the value of fair practice and fair pay and in a time of year when work is sparse and teachers plentiful it is difficult to spread the work around enough to ensure no-one falls into this "trap", however if you go to join another agency at that point then rather than have one hoop to jump through, you have them all to do again.
    I'm not advocating blind loyalty, and have always advised teachers registering with me to be aware of other agencies and what they can do for you, but that is because I trust in me and my team to be better at what we do then our competitors.
    Sorry, that turned a bit ranty
     
  10. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    A supply teacher could not get any work from May to October and therefore need to re-register. As this poor supply is unlikely to get any other work in that time, from whom does he or she get new references?
     
    snowyhead likes this.
  11. PizzoCalabro

    PizzoCalabro Established commenter

    Precisely as Roger said!
     
    snowyhead likes this.
  12. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    I am very doubtful about agencies having a statutory duty to ask for new references - as you say @Jolly_Roger1 if you have not been working because you've been waiting for 'the call' who would you ask to provide the references? I will do some research on this point.

    If you have registered for the DBS up-date service and renew your registration every year you DO NOT need to have a new DBS check carried out unless you move employment sector.

    I would be inclined to be bloody minded about this, if the agency have been the cause of your lack of work for three months or more then give them as a referee. Technically you still have a contract with them and have not be unemployed just under-employed. However, if you have registered as unemployed via a Job Centre during that time and received unemployment benefits (although very unlikely) then I can see why the agency might want to know how you have spent the past three months.
     
  13. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    There we are: as @educ80 has stated new references only need to be sought for periods of work of more than 12 weeks that are not backed up by references. If you have been under-employed for 12 weeks because the agency have not be pro-active in finding work for you then there should be no need to seek references. In fact it would be a pointless exercise.
     
  14. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    An agency I was with initially refused to take me back because I had been not teaching for a period of greater then three months (about a year in total) but I had been employed and did have references accounting for my time. I had also had needed CRB clearance obtained by my non-teaching employer for this job. They said they were unable to accept anyone without an unbroken "teaching" employment history.

    The local consultants told me that they had to turn away many suitable applicants who couldn't meet this criteria. But to be fair they did think this was being unfair to me and referred it to thier head office who decided they could make an exception for my circumstances. (still didn't get me much work though)
     
  15. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    In the situation you describe @les25paul the agency quite legitimately required new references and DBS/CRB checks as you had moved out of teaching.

    The issue for the OP seems to be that the agency are requesting references because the OP has been under-employed for three months through no fault of their own. I think someone at the agency has misunderstood the regulations.
     
  16. educ80

    educ80 Occasional commenter

    I hope I can clarify a few issues raised here for the wider benefit, not to justify the existence of agencies.
    If 12 weeks have elapsed since you last undertook work for that agency (regardless of who you want to blame - I have had teachers refuse to comply with this despite having consistently turned down work during the 12 week period) then a reference needs to be sought. This can be a character or personal reference if a work reference is not applicable (it is equally as tricky to get a reference to cover time taken for maternity for example). The DBS and online update service have helped safeguarding checks but as it has been poorly publicised and not always taken up by agency staff, it is nowhere near fool proof.

    I come back to a single question regardless of this. If I am a consultant and you a good teacher, of what benefit is it to me to put up barriers to finding you work? My wage and reputation are partially based on successfully placing you and ensuring you are legally compliant to work so I should be doing all I can to do that. If you think the requests made of you are unreasonable then enquire at other agencies to find out if it is universal. If it is then try and work with the agency.
    If you find that there are extra and superfluous barriers being put up then it may be that your consultant is not doing his/her best for you because they do not rate you (I am speculating here) or for whatever reason don't think they can help you. It could be that the agency is small, has little work in your area, has little work that suits you, doesn't like you, has received poor references, can't contact you at the right times, and several hundred other reasons both valid and invalid including that they are incompetent/new at their job/work for a poor agency/dont care.

    The stringent checks are in place to protect pupils, staff and agencies from nefarious individuals, not to persecute those searching for work.

    Also, the contract you sign with an agency is usually a "contract for service's" meaning effectively that when you work, you get paid for work undertaken. It does not promise a certain amount of work, simply that you will be paid the agreed rate for the work you do. It is not a zero hours contract as it does not bind you to one employer.
    Lastly, and at the risk of incurring much wrath, it seems a common feeling that agencies simply "being proactive" will see unlimited supply work cascade from the heavens however this is akin to saying that simply standing in front of a classroom of pupils with a whiteboard pen in your hand will see GCSE grades sky rocket.
     
  17. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    @educ80: I take your points but I still wonder how some agencies work. Over the last four years, I have joined half a dozen, only two of which find me any paid work, and then only dribs and drabs. Why do agencies take people on and then just forget they exist? Why do agencies consistently sound you out about work they must know you cannot do; such as not your subject area, or thirty miles away in twenty minutes? Most damning of all, why I get a steady stream of offers of unpaid work, but so few for paid work? Do agencies benefit financially from letting out their staff unpaid and, if so, by how much?
     
  18. educ80

    educ80 Occasional commenter

    Good Agencies will aim to be proactive. There is no point in waiting until a school rings with a KS2 Maternity Cover to then start looking for a KS 2 Teacher. The best thing to do is have a bank of them available that can do the job. If you are only wanting day to day work, the same is true. I dont know from morning to morning which school will call me so I have to have all geographic, subject, key stage bases covered for when the calls come in. To be able to do this I have to ensure I have a lot of staff, however
    If an agencys communication with you is poor then I can only suggest you tell them. I encourage anyone I register to maintain contact with me and I will attempt to do the same but I also remind them that I/my team are responsible for more than 300 employees so I wont always be able to dedicate time to you at the drop of a hat - its about setting expectations.
    Sounding you out about work you cannot do is a double-edged sword in my eyes. If you are a History teacher for example, and get calls to do RE/Mixed Humanities then at least your consultant is giving you the opportunity/option to do related work and is thinking about you. If they ring you to do nursery nursing then of course you may want to reset their expectations. Firmly.
    Work that is too far away is the same and may be fuelled slightly by desperation to fill a booking and impress a client. No agency should be ringing you at 8.30 and telling you to get there for 9 through Rush hr etc. Be honest with them about an arrival time and when you get to the school ensure that you tell them exactly what you told the consultant. Some consultants I have worked with do a good line in blaming teachers for their own unrealistic expectations, too many times have I heard 'Well they said they would be there at 9!! I'll have a word with them'

    I cant speak for all agencies (my usual caveat) but most decent effective agencies are merely acting on behalf of their clients and trying to mediate a reasonable mid way point.
    We have had secondary schools approach us to cover single lessons but have said that we will only supply people for a half day as a minimum because our teachers wont do less. Unfortunately however, the response is often 'Oh, well, I will go to another agency then and they will give me what I want'.
    An all to common response to may things we put to them, such as
    (1) I have a top scale teacher but the price is X because we pay to scale.
    (2) I dont have cover supervisors, but I can provide you with a teacher if youre prepared to pay X
    (3) I dont have a Drama teacher but I have an English Teacher that has covered it, is that acceptable
    (4) I can get a specialist to you but it may be after 9 o'clock due to the distance they have to travel and the time of day.....

    Unfortunately the 'other agency' will normally be so happy to hear from a new school that they will say to them exactly what they want to hear, rather than the truth. 'Oh yes we have An English teacher on your doorstep for next to nothing, I'll give them a call' before ringing everyone on their books to convince them to be an English teacher for a day at next to nothing pay. This normally results in a botch job and the school getting what they pay for - monkeys/peanuts.

    A lot of what is foisted upon supply teachers is linked to directives from schools. That is not absolving agencies of blame for the more unscrupulous practices, however I have had some truly disturbing conversations with Bursars and business managers who have openly admitted to me that they dont care if supply teachers are paid drastically under scale, they have a budget to look after. being paid £120 per day rather than £168 (if you were to work a full academic year) would be tantamount to a cut in salary of £9,500. even when faced with that figure bursars have not even flinched.

    I have only ever asked Teachers to work ona voluntary basis during September. And this was something to opt in to, not the norm. The basis was that, if you wanted to opt in to the scheme, then you would agree to one voluntary day in September. As it is a very quiet time on supply we wanted to approach local schools with free members of staff. This was designed as positive PR for us and a chance for new supply teachers to build a reputation with schools in the area, so that when work comes more plentiful the schools have had a slight taste of who is new, rather than ringing for their 'regulars' all the time. It helped us convert new schools to using us and gave exposure to a lot of teachers in a quiet time and the majority of the cover people did was 'fabricated' by the school i.e. releasing leaders for PPA/management time, releasing NQTS for courses etc. This was pretty succesful, but the schools were never charged, it was entirely optional, and it was for one day only. Plenty of people said no to it, plenty said yes. However if you are ever sent out on a free day then it is worth teling the school in a positive way, that you are on a volntary day, and asking if it is something that they do regularly and if their is more paid work later in the year.
     
  19. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    One, voluntary day in September is one thing but being asked to do a weeks or more, so that a school can 'test drive you' is quite another. The deal 'if the school likes you and keeps you on, you'll get paid, if not, it's quits', seems rather immoral to me.
     
  20. PizzoCalabro

    PizzoCalabro Established commenter

    I'm surprised to hear about the test driving. I haven't been asked to do anything for free, and I wouldn't for an agency as I would just not trust them. When I approached schools directly I would have been prepared to do a free day, but none of them asked me, they paid me from the first day. If I am left a plan and resources, I am happy to teach anything, as the method is the same whatever the subject. The only thing I have refused to do is practical science.
     

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