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Exclusive: Supply agencies engaging in ‘exploitative’ practices

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Dec 15, 2017.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    ‘Supply agencies have been accused of engaging in “exploitative” practices, with a Tes investigation uncovering a range of activities that union leaders, heads and teachers have said are to blame for suppressing wages while inflicting higher costs on schools.

    The practices include unpaid “trial days”, moving staff into different roles before their employment rights kick in, and moving the best teachers around schools like chess pieces.

    One of the practices uncovered by Tes involves unscrupulous supply agencies moving teachers between schools to avoid paying them more. Under Agency Worker Regulations (AWR), after working in a role for 12 weeks at the same school, a supply teacher should be paid as if they are in that role permanently.’


    What are your views about the exploitative practices used by supply agencies?
    bounceback likes this.
  2. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    Well golly gosh! I would never have believed it. Some mistake, surely!

  3. David Getling

    David Getling Senior commenter

    Before blaming the agencies ask yourself whether they are simply doing exactly what the schools want them to do.
    Shedman likes this.
  4. applecrumblebumble

    applecrumblebumble Lead commenter

    This is what happens when you leave private companies to their own devices, they make a profit.
    The supply forum has been going on about all of these exploitative practices for years so what’s going to happen - nothing, I thought so.
    Brexit just pushes everything to the back burner.
    Shedman, Yomama1234 and tonymars like this.
  5. yodaami2

    yodaami2 Lead commenter

    I’ll go to the foot of our stairs.
    Why wouldn’t they? They are profit making businesses.They are not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. If it’s not illegal and they can make money, it’ll be done.
    Shedman, captain scarlet and tonymars like this.
  6. sophiaokay1

    sophiaokay1 New commenter

    *Pretends to be shocked*
    Yomama1234 likes this.
  7. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Another success for the farming out of such important services

  8. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    Looks like someone decided to finally get round to reading the supply board.
  9. Yoda-

    Yoda- Lead commenter

    Once the LEA supply pools closed, the possibility of equality of pay and pension provision with permanent staff disappeared. Then the private supply agencies raced to the bottom. Things now resemble the wild west. Almost anything goes...

  10. bounceback

    bounceback Occasional commenter

    Isn't it illegal not to have pay parity after 12 weeks according to AWR? I thought it was. Also, I believe replacing a teacher as they reach 12 weeks to avoid paying more goes against AWR. The trouble is it doesn't seem there is any enforcement of the regulations.
  11. tonymars

    tonymars Occasional commenter

    IF it is the case that experienced, qualified teachers can not find work even on supply, and what there little there is goes to cover supervisors, TAs, unqualified persons off the street, then surely something is going very wrong. Not surprising though as non interference in the market is the government's philosophy. Same as housing.
    schoolsout4summer likes this.
  12. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Yes and yes, though the agency worker has to show a comparator from the workforce. There would not be parity if a supply teacher was not working the same duties, e.g. had no tutor group, did no playground duties and was not responsible for planning, marking, assessment and parent consultations.

    There can only be enforcement if people complain: via a grievance to the employing agency; an ET claim; and reference of the agency to the regulator.

    You can search the online records of ET decisions to see how many claims there have been from agency workers. Not many, is the answer.

  13. ladyhawk

    ladyhawk New commenter

    I used to work as a supply teacher when my children were small, but was directly employed by the schools I worked for. It is now virtually impossible to obtain direct supply work as schools don't have the time/resources to sort out the necessary paperwork. Consequently I don't teach. I no longer wish to be in full-time permanent employment due to caring commitments, however, I am also not prepared to work for agencies who want to pay me 40% less than my salary if I were still employed, whilst charging the schools more than double what they pay me. The pay is further eroded through umbrella PAYE systems where you are effectively paying employer's NI out of your salary. Additionally, no pension payments are made by agencies. When I worked as direct supply for schools I planned lessons, marked work, attended parents' evenings, attended INSET, etc. Schools complain that supply teachers will not do all of the tasks that regular teachers do - is that really surprising given their working terms and conditions? The best way to curb the corruption of agencies is for schools to make their own direct supply arrangements.
    chelsea2, bevdex, Shedman and 3 others like this.
  14. bounceback

    bounceback Occasional commenter

    Hi ladyhawk,

    Do you mind me asking if you work and if so what you do? I am in a similar position with having some caring commitments and not wishing to work full-time in a permanent position. Supply at least gives some flexibility if needed. It is depressing to be exploited so much by the agencies though. I don't understand why the paperwork is so onerous for schools though. I think it is also due to the person in charge of cover wanting to make one phone call rather than several at short notice (for day-to-day). The schools are certainly paying a high premium for this service.
  15. captain scarlet

    captain scarlet Established commenter

    HERE HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  16. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Lead commenter

    I enjoy working as a supply teacher, but the pay and conditions are awful for a degree profession.
    Moony, BetterNow and bounceback like this.
  17. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Lead commenter

    I agree but the Cover Organiser is a very harassed woman who has to put up with
    1. Teachers ringing in sick at the last minute.
    2. Teachers who failed to submit the correct paperwork regarding their training, day-off or whatever and so need covering at the last minute or later.
    3. Teachers, who should have rung in sick, vomitting somewhere and going home. Well after the last minute.
    4. SLT calling random meetings etc and needing cover. Well after the last minute.
    5. Supply teachers wandering in and pointing out that the classroom/class they are down to cover has vanished. In fact any timetabling change that isn't on the system adds to her migraine.
    Throw in the fact that it isn't even the day job, the one I'm thinking of is the Office Manager and so with lots of other responsibilities then it's hardly surprising that the Supply Agency who deliver better and butter her up most gets it over all other considerations.
    eljefeb90 likes this.
  18. bounceback

    bounceback Occasional commenter

    I suppose to a large extent it depends on how the schools are run. I used to work mostly direct and at one great school the head actually did all the cover. Even though it was a tough school everything ran fairly smoothly. She retired and a new head came, then cover went over to agency. I didn't work for that agency as they paid poorly. I did still get work for pre-bookings as some teachers asked the office staff to book me. As staff retired/moved on this gradually dried up.

    I do agree there can be a lot of miscommunication in schools. I have known schools to double book, as SLT responsible for cover and an office manager have both booked supply for the same 'slot'. Who loses out then - oh yes, a supply teacher of course - cancelled at the last minute.
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  19. David Getling

    David Getling Senior commenter

    Bounceback, your comment about the head organizing cover reminds me of when I lived in New Zealand. I did a vast amount of cover at one very good school, and it was all managed by the vice principal, who got up bright and early to ring the teachers who had indicated a willingness to teach at her school: and whenever possible get a subject specialist.

    This is completely normal in NZ. When an agency tried to get a foot in the door the very idea was met with derision. Why on earth would NZ schools SQUANDER money on agencies?

    But it doesn't even have to be SLT or a teacher who organizes the right cover. When I lived in Germany there was another (once again very good) school I did plenty of cover at. But this time it was the head's PA who organized the cover.

    Like so much that is wrong with the UK school system, there really is absolutely no excuse, other than laziness, incompetence and self interest, for things being run the way they are.
  20. David Getling

    David Getling Senior commenter

    On the point of self interest, in my above post, perhaps a few readers might like to say if their heads receive Christmas presents from the agencies they favour: and how generous these presents are.

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