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Curious as to why schools still employ agencies

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by splinters, Jan 3, 2016.

  1. splinters

    splinters Established commenter

    Given that schools have to work to tight budgets is there any reason (other than agencies do the leg work on DBS and references etc.) that schools still use them even when looking to attract full time permanent staff?
    My wife (who works in early years as a Nursery Nurse) asked me and I couldn't provide an answer other than the one above.
    Having worked for agencies, my experiences are that they;
    a. Charge schools as much as they can for you yet try to pay you as little as possible.
    b. Send you to jobs you clearly are unsuitable for, even against others potential employee on their books, to increase their chances of netting a finders fee.
    c. Schmooze you for the above mentioned 'wild goose chase' in order to maximise their chances of that fee and to meet their targets
    d. lure you in when you enquire about a specific job just to enrol you for general supply work.
    e. Pretend to be your new best friend working just for you only to 'forget' you are already on an assignment for them when they contact you for some last minute supply/
    f. Ring you constantly to get you to agree to work/interview etc. then disappear once they have met their own goals.

    I could go on but surely schools are also aware of how many of these agencies operate. I see so many jobs advertised by agencies when the schools own websites don't list them and many others refer you to their preferred agents for further details.
    Am I missing something else or is it simply down to safeguarding and no one in the school having the time to follow up on potential supply workers submitted CV's?
    I have read the advice about setting up on your own, sending out CV's directly etc. but neither of these would get around the fact that some schools still use agencies for full time permanent roles.
    For one permanent role as HOD I was even told that the school would be paying on a daily rate for a specific time with a phased release before the school could put me 'on their books' so to speak or pay a large release fee. This could mean the school paying several thousands extra for a candidate they could have employed directly!!
  2. devils

    devils Occasional commenter

    Quite simple..... its the Pandora's Box of the 21st Century

  3. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    I have worked directly with two schools in the past but both went over to using agencies. In both cases they were happy to employ me (and other supplies they had previously employed directly) but only through an agency. In one case a new cover manager took over but in the other there was no change.

    I got less money and they paid more so it didn't make sense and I asked why In both cases they said using an agency was much easier. All they had to do was make one phone call and let the agency do the rest. They could still request a particular teacher if they wanted but if that teacher wasn't available another would be sent. Prior to this I was told it could take several phone calls and take some time phoning around their own pool of teachers.

    Using agencies might remove the need for a school to employ dedicated cover manager post, The agency costs might be less then their salary, (But I doubt it).
  4. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    It's convenience isn't it.

    The cover manager at our place comes in about 7.15-7.30 and checks the emails and the phone line to see who's not coming in.

    Then he works out if the cover supervisors can take on all the cover. If they can ...fine

    If not you need a body or two, easiest way is to ring the agencies and they basically do the rest.

    We do have one "regular" supply but they are not always available.

    Other schools have a "pool" of people who they can call on at short notice - many others don't.

    So....if you can forge a direct link with a school you're likely to get work but agencies are here to stay for the foreseeable future I reckon.
  5. PizzoCalabro

    PizzoCalabro Established commenter

    One of the schools I go to (via an agency) has a Cover Manager (ie arranging the cover) who used to be a supply teacher himself, so of course he is aware of all the tricks the agencies pull, and so can beat them down to a good rate. He will not go 'exclusive' likes to keep them on their toes. He asks for specific people (eg me :) ) but if I or they are not available, the agency does the leg work.
    I am also direct with three local schools that I emailed - they call me and pay me thru their PAYE system, so MUCH cheaper for them - and no safeguarding issue as I have portable DBS. But they do have to call me and I might not be available, so not as easy as calling an agency as then then then have to call and agency after calling me. Also they do not usually have people contacting them directly, so I was a novelty, but they would if there were more people who approached them directly.
  6. CarrieV

    CarrieV Lead commenter

    We certainly don't use agencies to employ permanent members of staff but we do have to use them for supply staff. My understanding is that, if we try to employ a supply teacher independently of an agency we have to put them on a zero hours contract, apparently my county's payroll system can't cope with anything else!
  7. splinters

    splinters Established commenter

    @PizzoCalabro by portable DBS do you mean you registered with the update service? I have the same yet even when I have dealt with agencies they want to see all documentation in person and I recall @TheoGriff reiterating that schools no longer accept CV's due to safeguarding policies.
  8. andrew07

    andrew07 Occasional commenter

    I agree with all of the above. I strongly believe it relates to convenience and not having to bother with checking DBS, etc.
  9. splinters

    splinters Established commenter

    Then its very sad indeed. I worked a full term on my last assignment and the school wanted to keep me on as an employee but would have to pay the agency 15% of my salary to do so. They already had god knows how much from the 75 days I worked. Its simply greed.
  10. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Star commenter

    It's simply business - good business!
  11. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    In fact very few of the full time jobs advertised by agencies are actually commissioned by the school. According to research from the NUT only a tiny minority of jobs are filled by agencies. An increasing number of teachers are working on long-term placements in schools. They may well be paid AWR rates but the advantage to the school is that they can be dismissed without notice or any need to pay severance for up to four years. The school is not required to contribute to the teacher's pension either. Teaching is like so many other jobs becoming a casual, seasonal, pro rata workforce. Nearly half of our secondary schools are academies, free from the need to employ qualified teachers or to pay them to any agreed pay scales.
    I was talking to a relative yesterday who is a school governor and she did not see the agency question as her problem. Schools need governors so one way to tackle the agency rip off is to become a governor and question how the money is being spent.
    There are online petitions and a parliamentary early day motion. I'll post links to them separately.
    splinters likes this.
  12. teacha

    teacha Occasional commenter

    At one school that I went to on supply, the business manager told me that she HATES using agencies as they charge her a fortune just to make a phone call, which she could easily do herself. She asked me if I would work directly through her in future, although I have to wait a few months to make sure that the agency don't charge her a fee!
  13. PizzoCalabro

    PizzoCalabro Established commenter

    yes is the update service.
    They see and photocopy the original, but then access the update service so can see nothing has ben added.
    One school did want to do their own as they had never used the update service, but that was fine and I just added that the update service.
  14. elvispenhaligon

    elvispenhaligon Occasional commenter

    Employees have more rights than you can shake a stick at. Workers do not.

    If you have a nice socialist government who want to give staff everything, employers will work around the rules. #Capitalism.
  15. splinters

    splinters Established commenter

    I have to share this one as it was priceless.
    Just rang an agency about a job in Sheffield which was then described as being in Rotherham. For those not in the North they are a two locations that blur into each other but there could be way more than 90 minutes drive between the extremes i.e this side of Rotherham to far side of Sheffield.
    So I ask what the school is.
    Cant tell you
    Can you tell me the postcode so I can check
    Sorry, no
    Can you check from my postcode then
    Ok, its under 20 miles...is that ok?
    Well, depends on the route really but lets proceed anway
    Ok, cant be sure what they will pay and you are on UPS but lets get you in there........blah blah......get you more money later......blah blah.....
    Right, if you can get me some details I will decide if I want my CV forwarding
    We cant do that until you are registered, can we take up references?
    No, I don't want my ex employers writing yet another reference for a job I don't know anything about.
    We cant tell you any more until you are registered and to do that we need references.
    I can provide written references and have DBS update etc. Happy for references to be taken up if its a job I want to be put forward for.
    We cant do anything without the refences.
    Then I will leave it.

    Cue some further polite but pointless talk before we parted company.

    Absolutely ridiculous. Safeguarding or not, that is just following procedure for its own sake even resulting in a stalemate.


    P.S I apologise for the lack of apostrophes, question and speech marks etc. I wrote fast. PM me if you want to know the agency name so you can avoid the same unless you are happy for employers to be 'spammed' for references while you remain clueless as to what you are applying for.
    agbak likes this.
  16. splinters

    splinters Established commenter

    Bear in mind I had already sent my CV over by this point, they had read it and decided that, on paper at least, I was ideal for the role.....the mind boggles.
  17. agbak

    agbak New commenter

    Just a quick question about references if one is moving to permanent employment with a school,and one has been doing daily supply,and hardly has contact with the headteacher....Just in a bit of a diabolical situation...
    Who can one use as a referee?
  18. splinters

    splinters Established commenter

    I'm afraid you would have to use the supply agency who know even less about you than the Headteacher. Technically they were your employer and you were contracted out to the school.
    I am lucky enough to have had a full terms cover and an appreciative head but, if I continue doing casual day to day supply, I will have to use the agency as a referee at some point....:(
  19. agbak

    agbak New commenter

    Many thanks for your reply.....My agency has been fantastic,I've had no problems with them....It's just that I need more stable work as I will be moving abroad with my family
  20. splinters

    splinters Established commenter

    Don't get me wrong. If your agency work 'with' you professionally they will be able to write a reference based on the feedback they get from schools. You are lucky, many of us work for faceless reps who cant remember where they sent us most days never mind write a meaningful reference!

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