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Agency work questions

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by nosnibor_sar, Oct 16, 2015.

  1. nosnibor_sar

    nosnibor_sar New commenter

    I'm currently looking at signing up to an agency when I move after having difficulty in getting a TA job where I am now. I have volunteered for the past two and a half years but need to get out to work for my own sanity!! I would be really grateful if anyone could answer these few questions.

    1. What is the best agency to go with? I will be living in Andover, Hampshire.
    2. Can you register with more than one agency?
    3. What are the approximate costs, if any, of signing in with an agency?
    4. If you are lucky enough to get a permanent job, are there any costs involved with leaving the agency?

    Thank you in advance for any help with the above questions.

  2. Trekkie

    Trekkie Occasional commenter

    Hi Sarah,

    There is an agency in Southampton - https://www.teachingpersonnel.com/ which covers the Andover area. I have no idea if it's any good as I have no experience with agencies. They might be able to answer some of your questions, though.

    You say you have been volunteering - do you have a TA qualification?
  3. nosnibor_sar

    nosnibor_sar New commenter

    Yes I have NVQ3 STL in schools, plus first aid, safeguarding etc etc. I will be looking for work when we move but these past 2 years has been awful. Every job I have applied for I have got an interview, I've been told I do a very very good interview but they require more experience - I have 18 years experience working with children from 9months - 11 years. 6 years working of that is as a TA. It's just frustrating when 2 of the jobs I went for were given to someone with 2 months experience volunteering in the class the job was going in and absolutely no background or qualifications in TA work.

    So I figured if I joined an agency I might get at least some paid work instead of volunteering (working) 2 days a week and not getting paid for it and for that matter towards the end taken advantage of, which is why I didn't go back to volunteering in September.

    Thanks for the link I will have a look at that.....and sorry for the rant, just a little bitter ;)
  4. Trekkie

    Trekkie Occasional commenter

    There's nothing like a good rant to make you feel better (rather than bitter)!

    It sounds like you have all the qualifications and experience too, so I can understand your frustration at the situation in which you find yourself. I have seen newly employed TAs with absolutely no experience (apart from maybe a little reading with the children) given TA jobs which involve phonics groups and interventions!
    Good luck with the agency work and hopefully, full time employment!
  5. Saland45

    Saland45 New commenter


    Me too... I find it frustrating because a lot of jobs go internally, to volunteers and friends and relatives..seen that too... I am considering agency after Xmas... Have done it before but day to day which I didn't really like too much so may try short/long term and see what that is like..... I am an LSP... I was glad to leave where I was it was getting too much...someone with absolutely no qualifications, no experience was given same type of role and on the same pay scale as me with over ten yrs experience and qualifications....just seemed bizarre !!!
  6. Trekkie

    Trekkie Occasional commenter

    I really can't understand this either! There seems no time for proper training or shadowing an experienced TA these days. The reality is that volunteering is NOT the same as being a TA. I have mentored TAs (in my own time!) who have come in with a TA qualification and some volunteering and they have really struggled.Still makes me very cross, even though I've retired!

    I'm ranting now!!
    nosnibor_sar likes this.
  7. Saland45

    Saland45 New commenter


    Rant away!!! Lol.....I wld agree it isn't the same at all...I was actually dumbfounded by the last place.....I left to preserve health and sanity....iI miss it a lot and am sadly not old enough to retire just yet!!!! ...I also discovered that whilst I was employed as a level 3 and was doing level 5 duties a lot of the TAs didn't have any specific qualifications at all, a few at level 2 ...and they actually asked me if I was qualified!!!!! Cheeky!!! That is to say they were not very good because they were absolutely fine but it did appear that most were mums of children in school already which means it isn't really a fair and democratic process at all!!!! The last interview I had someone was already doing the role and I cldnt understand why they were advertising at all....it just got my hopes up and wasted their time I would imagine!!!
  8. OBakaSama

    OBakaSama Occasional commenter

    The only thing I'm aware of with agencies is the cost of the DBS application and administration. A friend of mine went the agency route and got work sporadically, though they focused on PRUs rather than mainstream schools.

    I have to admit reading about your experience makes me rather sad, Saland45. With that experience behind you I would have thought it makes your application and chances much stronger. All the more reason I am suspicious when schools give the feedback of "lack of experience". As a volunteer I've seen jobs at a school I volunteered at go to people with even less experience than myself. The mind boggles sometimes.
  9. Saland45

    Saland45 New commenter


    Mmmm I don't know if it is a really common thing or not...the last interview resulted in a " it was a very strong field and there was absolutely nothing wrong with your interview but you were unsuccessful!! " which left me puzzled a bit since I had all the necessary and recent experience and am well qualified....however the fact another person was already in that post made me feel a bit suspicious....schools do tend to make use of volunteers/students/ lunch time staff etc rather than have supply staff in I found .... I am at the point where I feel a reluctance to carry on in this area especially as I am working from home at the minute..but am drawn there due to my age now being difficult to change careers and because I do still enjoy working 1:1 .... In my last post I was being expected to be the teacher basically for small pay and little support...and by that I don't mean I needed a helping hand every day but just someone to recognise that being hit, kicked and dealing with very challenging behaviour just a how you doing?, are you okay? Still at the end of my time they were more equipped to deal with that sort of thing having watched and learnt from my practice .......I spent a lot of time out of the classroom and outside !!i wld be ill quite a lot especially over the winter months, developed migraines and IBS as well!!! All since have gone....i have a few more applications in but have decided that the agency after Christmas may give me a different perspective.....X ps you do usually have to pay for a DBS but I sign up with the update service as well so that it is renewed every year....don't let this out you off though I am probably a lot older than you!!! And more cynical!!!
  10. OBakaSama

    OBakaSama Occasional commenter

    The 'lack of experience' reason for not hiring someone I have heard many times in different areas. While I can just about accept 'lack of experience' as a volunteer or working in an industry for less than a year as being valid, I find it difficult to accept if one has experience beyond that. I suspect 'lack of experience' is sometimes, not always, just a polite way of saying 'we don't want you here'. But that's my interpretation on the matter. Truthfully, if experience is such a factor in these things then no-one could ever get started.

    When I came across the notion of agency work for TA positions I have to admit I felt very sceptical about it. I can see that working for supply teachers, but supply TAs? I might still find myself signing up with an agency to see if it helps, but I lack optimism as the very notion doesn't make a great deal of sense. Most schools I know just don't bother with TA cover in that manner.

    TAs tend to bring a lot of knowledge to the classroom, certainly the ones I've worked with have, and have their own specialisms. While I took the PGCE the attitude was very much a TA isn't as good as a teacher, I would take individual experience and knowledge over a certificate. There are some who are very dismissive about what a TA can bring to a classroom especially for teachers schooled in the thought that TAs aren't as knowledgeable as a teacher. Basically there needs to be a general base level of respect for people. 1-to-1 can be very challenging (child dependent), so more needs to be there for staff to be a team.

    We shall continue to seek out opportunities, I suspect I need a change of school when it comes to volunteering, as I've been immersed in the primary sector for the last few years. Leaving education would be a shame, and I'm not quite ready to do so. Besides, in applying for jobs it's the only one that makes sense, because I 'lack experience' in every other industry now too!

    I thank you for the kind words, Saland.
  11. nosnibor_sar

    nosnibor_sar New commenter

    Even though it's very sad to hear that my experience seems to be common place, I have to say I'm relieved I'm not the only person getting this answer. It has made me feel very disillusioned and if I'm honest I did question my ability to work as a TA. Fortunately for me, I have worked with some fantastic teachers and teaching assistants and they have all reassured me I should not give up as I have so much to give. It's lovely to hear and I do appreciate their kind comments, so I will carry on, only because I cannot see myself working anywhere else but in a school!! I wish you all luck in your search for employment - keep going, someone will eventually realise that experience is a valuable asset!!!
  12. Gsr25

    Gsr25 Occasional commenter

    @OBakaSama Im like you, I feel very sceptical about supply TAing, because many schools tend to cover in house.

    I applied for a TA job last year, as far as I was concerned I sent in a good application and I ticked the boxes but I didn't even get short listed and I was gutted! I've since discovered the job went to a parent helper... I do think schools do still do formality interviews even though they probably shouldn't, I've been to a few myself where I have guessed pretty quickly that They had already decided to offer it to a known to the school person, wasting my time as well as theirs!

    There are so many people namely mums from school who suddenly want to become TAs because it's convenient for them, so they go off and do a level 2 with adult education and then walk into a job whereas those of us who have the same if not higher qualifications and experience are overlooked, maybe I am being cynical but it's just my observation...

    Good luck with your quest for supply OP, sound like you have a lot of offer.
  13. Saland45

    Saland45 New commenter


    I did do some TA work last yr..I had a few bookings in advance for courses when they couldn't fill in house or had sudden illnesses and were really, really stuck..but it was mainly in an SEN school...not a great experience ..say no more about that! So it is possible to get some work......I totally agree with what you have said...as my recent interview showed someone was already actually in the role...shame because I convinced myself I would be in with a good chance!!! Oh well onwards as they say.,,.
    Gsr25 likes this.
  14. OBakaSama

    OBakaSama Occasional commenter

    One of the problems with those types of interviews is that schools have to open up the application to external applicants (a legal requirement?), even though they may have someone internally ready to assume the role. I agree it is a waste of time, but should one impress enough on the day who's to say the internal candidate will get the job?

    There are also cases where the schools are less than forthcoming about their actual intentions in their job advertisements in my experience; changing certain details relating to the job and thus disqualifying you (yep, had that happen to me). Not a nice thing to experience and an utter waste of time for everyone involved.

    Clouds and silver linings...
  15. Gsr25

    Gsr25 Occasional commenter

    A HT I worked for said no that's not the case because it wastes time but I think what you have said is more likely, even if they have someone in mind they have to open it up to external candidates.
    I've also heard on here about external candidates being so amazing that the internal one doesn't get a look in.
    I've had that happen to me too, it's a horrible feeling but actually would you want to work at a place that made you feel like that? Possibly not, well I wouldn't!
  16. Wotton

    Wotton Lead commenter

    Schools don't have to advertise any job except HT. so they could save alot of time and money by just giving it to the internal person if that is who they want.
  17. Saland45

    Saland45 New commenter


    That is very true...I have also seen that happen ..in fact I was many yrs ago one of those people ..I was working at lunchtimes and cover only and a child with special needs appeared at the beginning of the school yr and they asked me to take the job casual only though.....the child wasn't staying ...I said yes because a.I needed the money b. I really wanted to .c.I needed the experience ..it wasn't popular with some and I did end up leaving ..but I was suitably qualified if lacking experience which I quickly got!!! It helped me enter into this field but I had been there a long time and had been over looked many, many times before!!!! And was about to give it up as a bad job!!!...
  18. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    I'll answer these questions for a supply teacher but I'm sure the same will apply for TAs

    1. Its hard to recommend a good agency since the quality of their service depends on the consultant you are working with. So what might be a good agency in one area might be poor in another and as consultants move on a good agency might become poor whilst a rubbish one might improve. The only real way to find out is take the plunge and join a few.

    2. Normally you can join as many as you like (although its best not to spread yourself too thin). However check any contract before signing since some agencies use a Swedish Derogation contract which restricts you from working elsewhere.

    3. The only cost should be for a DBS check, if they ask for anything else walk away.

    4 Most agencies (for teachers anyway) have the option to charge a finder's fee to any school who employs a teacher they have introduced to them. This can be very expensive and could put schools put employing any staff sent to them from an agency. But not all agencies enforce this, some of the smarter ones realise that maintaining good relationships with their clients is more valuable then a quick buck and will waive this fee.

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