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Agency etiquette

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by zippycfb, Nov 25, 2011.

  1. zippycfb

    zippycfb New commenter

    As an NQT, I'm still fairly new to the world of supply so I'm still getting to grips with how all the agencies work.
    I signed up with just the one local agency back in July, it was the first one who contacted me after I thought I was applying for a 'job' by uploading my cv on to a website. I deemed this enough despite being inundated by agencies who I assume got my details from the website. The agency, in my opinion, have been good to me so far, but I've still only had 10 days work since September which is not enough to survive on.
    Because of this I'm starting to look around at other agencies and have just rang one re a 'job' advertised on the jobcentre website. Surprise surprise, vacancy filled but the consultant swiftly moved on to quizzing me about my work history, which agencies I've worked for, which schools, what are they like, etc. etc. She was clearly writing everything down I said which made me feel a little uneasy as I was merely enquiring about a 'supposed' vacancy, I wasn't expecting the third degree. Is this the norm for all agencies? Now I remember why I only signed with the one back in July, I had lots of pushy consultants ringing me constantly telling me how desperate they were for Maths teachers (laughable now I know) and I decided that I would stay with the one agency out of loyalty (misguided now I know) and just see how it went.
    I think maybe I am too nice, I felt awful talking to the woman just then and felt like I shouldn't have been discussing details of my current agency with them despite having read many a tale on here about mistreatment of supply teachers by various agencies. Do I need to toughen up and be as ruthless as them? Anyway after my grillling she asked me to email over my cv 'to complete my registration' - eh? it was only an enquiry, and was told 'it would be great to have you on our books as we are always short of maths teacher.' Yeah right, where have I heard that before :). Told her ?I'd get around to emailing my cv but I'm not very hopeful.
  2. Negotiating tips with agencies, (not wanting to sound to much like an old hand)
    The agencies even in a big city area know a lot about eachother and the schools.
    However agencies are big on gathering intelligence about what is going on at a particular moment.
    Agencies have in their contract a sort of clause that you do not babble to much. I sort of keep to it and sort of do not. My contract with myself on babbling is only when it suits me.
    Golden Rules. If you think you may have had a tough time in a school never mention the school. Only mention the schools were you are sure they were Ok with you. Even if you are working with another agency. The new contact agency will know the school and likely if they are thinking of taking you seriously to ask something about you to the school.
    Never say anything negative about a school. If a school you have been to is challenging and you did a good job then flaunt it. If it was murder do not mention it.
    Pay Rates, An agency will think nothing of finding out what you were getting from one agency and then phone the school to say they will do a cheaper deal. So always be careful when telling an agency the pay rates of another agency. Try to find out what they are offering first and negotiate up sort of 'Oh I am on such and such a rate rate from such and such an agency'. Rather than just tell them what the other agency is paying. This is real negotiating poker. Not for the weak or wishy washy.
    IF the agency are muppitts and bottom liners, they may get you more work, however if you go to school on to low a rate, then you get miffed if your are doing a pro-active teaching job.
    all pretty naff however, I am not supporting the strike as I could not give a jot about the contract teachers as they have never given a jot about our plight.
  3. zippycfb

    zippycfb New commenter

    Oops, seems I broke a few of the 'golden rules' today then, especially regarding discussing other schools. I was fairly blunt about one school in particular that I will never go back to, and 2 other schools that she mentioned they have contracts with I said I didn't want to go either (for personal reasons, but the woman probably suspects otherwise). Feel like a bit of a wally now but I guess I'll learn from it and move on. Do you think it's still worth signing up with the agency? There were lots of other schools they have contracts with although I'll probably find that no such contract exists once I'm on their books.
  4. Hi again, I really hope I did not sound patronising, However this is a 'negotiating', game.
    Thing is if you really do not want to go back to a school that you have been to with another agency it may be better to tell the new agency, it is a judgement call. However if you are going to do this back it up wih sensible stuff, Think back to why you do not want to got there again. Sensible stuff is, no work left, classrooms locked (often) hapahazard supply deployment. If it is true they will know the school anyway. Do not say the kids were crazy as it implies you can't handle them. Or not understand why they were crazy. A very wrecked classroom before you arrive is a good reason why the kids are crazy.
    I would send in a C.V. and see what happens. Or if you think you have talked to much, put it down to experience.
    Golden Rule 2, never pick up the phone to a new agency without having a good think. They are going to ask questions. Best thing is name the schools you are happy in and name drop a few members of the supply co-ordinating staff as if you are their best mates!
    You tell agencies how good you are, before you start talking in anyway negative about anything.
    Be cool and be good, agency recruitment consultants are trained negotiators, and some of them are just sales.
  5. zippycfb

    zippycfb New commenter

    Don't worry I don't feel patronised, just grateful for the advice :) Like I said, I'm an NQT who is new to supply so I'm still trying to figure all the agency politics stuff out.
  6. Thing is, it is very hard nowadays. I did my first stint of supply in 03. I had my interview and answered the normal agency questions. I was actually a bit scared.
    I also asked the agency for an easy booking to settle in. No challenging rough stuff, for starters. Essentially a very known ok school which the agency had used a lot.
    The agency knew the school, that the school was good with supply. So I either handle it or I do not. The supply co-ordinator was SMT, we had a chat at the start of the day. The week booking worked well and I went back often after that.
    I was allowed to build my confidence, I was appreciated, then I went onto rougher schools later.
    However that was long ago. The agency I worked for then, does not operate in my area anymore.

  7. Mrs-Pip

    Mrs-Pip New commenter

    I think that once you are in with an agency that you like and you have built a good reputation with... it also helps to build a good rapport with your agent. I often wish her a good weekend and ask what she is up to. It really does depend on the actual agent, not always the agency.
  8. I don't actually talk to my agency much at all. They send me a text with a job. I accept it by text. Thy say thanks by text. That's it on the whole.

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