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A few questions

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by blazer, Feb 7, 2016.

  1. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Hi all. I have had a browse down the first couple of pages of threads but couldn't see a title that seemed to cover my questions (although I am sure I shall be corrected on this assumption).

    I am taking my pension at the end of the Summer term but at 59 I shall need a bit of extra income to carry me through the next couple of years. So I have a few questions that I hope you can answer. As things stand I don't really want the hassle of marking and planning that come with long contracts such as maternity covers. What would be ideal is just a few days or week here and there. I appreciate that beggars can't always be choosers. My subject is science (chemistry)

    Agencies: Are contracts with them exclusive or can you sign up with more than one?

    If you are with an agency do they take tax at source or will I need to self assess given that my pension will use up all of my tax allowance?

    Is it possible to go solo with supply (not go through an agency)?

    If you can provide answers, thanks or even just point me in the direction of answers that would be great.

  2. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    Before you see supply as a source of any sort of income whatsoever, I would need to know where you are in the UK. There are regional differences and within those differences from town to town.
    If you want work, you mustn't limit yourself to your own subject area or any specific age group. In very broad terms, it appears that there is a higher demand for Primary as this is where there is a huge amount of PPA and NQT release time as nearly all the older teachers in that sector have been cleared out and replaced.
    I am very strongly anti-agency as they don't deliver what they promise. They are intermediaries and have no contractual obligation to find you work or pay you any fixed scales. It is in their interests to keep a massive team sitting on the bench in order to keep their pay rates low, very low indeed. Others will argue that their agency is treating them well. There's always an exception and lots of supply forums (not this one) are heavily infiltrated by agency trolls who extol the virtues of their own companies.
    They will tend to farm out those teachers who are prepared to take the lowest offer.
    They will say that the contract is exclusive but it is not unless you fall for the "Guaranteed Work/Guaranteed Pay" line. Don't go there.
    You can enroll with as many agencies as you like.
    Make sure you apply for the online renewal of your DBS immediately it comes through.
    Don't let the agency charge you for it.
    Or you can sidestep agencies.
    Make up a very professional looking booklet to mail to schools as an independent supply teacher.
    Clearly state your charge rates, availability and expertise as a flexible classroom practitioner.
    You can work independently and invoice the agency but in that case it would make more sense just to cut out the middleman altogether and just get the school to hire you as a day to day consultant and pay you directly via their own payroll or an invoice from which you self assess your own tax at the end of the year.
    Schools want to know if you can come in at the drop of a hat and that your DBS is up to date. They are only concerned about safeguarding. It doesn't matter if you speak six languages and have a Nobel prize as long as you turn up and keep the class in order.
    Supply agency payroll practices are about to undergo a change with the anticipated review of overarching contracts (umbrella payroll companies). Only accept PAYE if you are with an agency.
    It is essential that you remain a member of a union. They all charge reduced rates for retired teachers and supply teachers.
    Spend time reading previous threads on here. It's a game with absolutely no rules and no referee. You need to have a business head, the cheek of the devil and classroom charisma of Dumbledore.
    applecrumblebumble likes this.
  3. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    Further to the above, have a look at the latest survey by the NUT of school leaders. It shows the demand in secondary is for long term cover not day to day supply.
    There is day to day but it has dwindled significantly.


    and link to NUT schools survey 2015
    It is the most up to date snapshot of the current state of demand from the schools' perspective.
  4. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Thanks for your comprehensive replies. Certainly food for thought.
  5. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    I should have added that I am based in the West Midlands and currently work in Birmingham.

    I currently don't have a DBS as my school where I have worked for the last 21 years has my CRB check. So I know that one way or another I shall have to get a DBS before being allowed near a school come September.
  6. applecrumblebumble

    applecrumblebumble Lead commenter

    Nearmiss has given you a very comprehensive account of how things are 'all supply'. If you can, find a nice long term especially secondary sector in a school you like - if you don't you can walk away.
    I found such a school and worked there for 12 weeks as a transition to retirement - just planning lessons and putting assessment grades into computer, any marking that could not be done in PPA time did not get done, out the door by 3.15 and no parents evening.
  7. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi Blazer

    Contact schools directly first without having to use an agency. Make a list of all the schools in your area that you know have good reputations and places where you would like to work. If you don't get any response then you can think about contacting agencies.

    You are in a good position since you will not be totally reliant upon supply so can pick and choose where you work.
  8. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    @blazer Have you had a word with the Cover Manager at your school? You could do general cover there or science, either for the odd day a week or longer. It all depends on who's out of school, goes off sick etc. They may pay you through the LEA, so you'd be paid to scale. I was getting £27 an hour. The big advantage is that you know the kids and the school, so none of the behaviour problems you might get in new schools.
    Try Independent schools, too. I went to one last week and was asked how much I'd like to be paid! We negotiated.
    Have a chat with your Cover Manager first, though. You should get about £180 per day. I did.
  9. pixiewixiepixie

    pixiewixiepixie Occasional commenter

    I would have thought that you should start contacting schools you know, people you know, in the area now and let them know your plans. You do not need agencies and you can work on your own, as a sole trader or a limited company (search these forums for both terms). Ask your school to do a DBS check for you (you may have to pay) and then pay a little extra to keep it up to date.

    I can't imagine why anyone would use an agency judging by the people I know who do and don't use them. They are just middlemen, and like all middlemen, their job is to tell you what you want to hear, make you feel special, and then get you to work for as little as possible whilst charging schools as much as possible, trying to get you to believe all kinds of excuses why you should be paid so little or work as a Cover Supervisor, or do a 'trial day' or work in the worst schools etc.

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