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How low would you go?

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by emmalcm1, Oct 3, 2015.

  1. emmalcm1

    emmalcm1 Established commenter

    I had it out with an agency this week after they tried to pay me an even lower figure than usual for an afternoon's cover supervisor work without informing me. As you will all know, supply teachers earn little enough money as it is already with no holiday or sick pay, being paid as cover not a teacher etc, without people trying to take advantage any further!

    When I received an email telling me I'd been booked into their system and rang to ask why the rate was wrong, the agency claimed that the particular school I had been asked to go to had put pressure on them to send people cheaper or they would switch agencies. When I told them I had not been informed of this and therefore wasn't willing to go to the school that afternoon, we negotiated a (slightly!) higher figure because they couldn't find someone else at short notice (an hour and a half before I was due to be there).

    I had to explain to them that it was not worth my time and petrol to go somewhere for the sake of earning so little and that I am in future not prepared to go to schools to whom they are offering supply staff for such a low rate. They went on to tell me they know how I feel because they're trying to squeeze them down too and that they're trying to do they best they can for me! I mean are you joking?! You care about nothing but yourselves and how much commission you're making! We all know that you are making just as much money as us by swiping half of the fee when we're the ones doing all the work! That comment just put the cherry on it, I was furious!

    I once had an agency try to persuade me it was a good idea to drive to St Helens from Liverpool to do 2 hours invigilation (worth £14 minus tax)...erm yeah right!

    It annoys me so much that I'm being taken advantage of and I know I am but I'm relying on it to help pay the bills so it's unavoidable, I just felt like enough was enough and I needed to put my foot down! Are other people experiencing this as well? So fed up of greedy agencies and schools!

    On the upside, I just found out I have an interview for a civil service job so here's hoping...
  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    I sincerely hope and wish you all the best for your civil service job so you can escape having to deal with unscrupulous schools and agencies. I am blessed to be somewhere where I get paid a fair rate, but I do work very hard for it as all teachers do.

    Out of principle I would not work for less than I get now and I would rather stackmshelves at pound land if they asked me to work for less in some of the challenging schools I go to.

    Let's trust you get your new job soon since you will be better out of supply work and start being paid a fair wage.
  3. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    You cannot go far wrong with a Civil Service position. Good Luck
  4. emmalcm1

    emmalcm1 Established commenter

    Thank you! I have told a few people that I'm trying to leave teaching and had very mixed reactions, including those who say 'oh, that's a shame and a waste of your PGCE', etc, as if I didn't know. However those people haven't been doing temporary contracts/ supply for the past 4 years! I must admit that it makes me slightly nervous in that I hope I won't look back and regret it, but there's a serious lack of jobs in my subject (Music) in the Northwest and I feel like my life has been on hold for a while now.

    I literally could not believe the agency even expected me to turn up for what they were offering it was that bad. Unfortunately I am finding myself working in some very tough schools which require a lot of hard work for cover supervisor rates in order to help pay the bills. Like you say, I sometimes think I would rather stack shelves, particularly when I'm being sent to schools where staff are being assaulted etc!

    At the end of the day I would be earning a lot more working in the job I have an interview for and would have a steady wage...plus no anxiety about not knowing where I'm going each day (which is really stressing me out now). Here's hoping!
  5. emmalcm1

    emmalcm1 Established commenter

    Thank you! I think it would be far preferable to the rubbish I'm having to put up with at the moment.
  6. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    You care about nothing but yourselves and how much commission you're making! We all know that you are making just as much money as us by swiping half of the fee when we're the ones doing all the work! That comment just put the cherry on it, I was furious!

    Supply agencies man their offices between around 6.30am and 6pm. That's a lot of hours pay to cover. In addition, they pay for premises, overheads (gas, electricity etc), stationery and all that goes with running an office: insurance, payroll etc.

    I'm not quite sure why some supply teachers think that it can all be covered by taking a £10 cut from your daily rate.
  7. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    I am not sure what you base your evidence on @Eva_Smith, but the agency I worked for some years ago charged schools £200 a day and paid me £100. For a long term booking, that included planning and all assessment, they paid £105 a day. And let us not forget the introductory fees charged to schools on successful placement of a teacher in a long term post.

    Agency staff don't physically man offices out of hours - they give schools an 'out of hours' phone number which is usually linked to sales staff on a rota basis. Most agency staff start at 8.00 am and finish at 5.00 pm.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2015
    emmalcm1 likes this.
  8. emmalcm1

    emmalcm1 Established commenter

    @Eva_Smith So you would bother yourself to go to work for the morning for £25 minus your tax and travel costs then? Because that's exactly how low they wanted me to go and THAT is why I was furious when I wrote this post. Sorry but I have not been to uni for 4 years to work for next to nothing!

    It was also extremely dishonest for this particular agency to be trying to change the rate without even mentioning it! No permanent staff just have their wages changed like that do they? I'm not even sure it is legal!

    Your 6:30am-6pm comment...the agencies I've dealt with do not start til 7:30 and you don't get an answer after about 4/ 4:30 so sorry but you are wrong.

    I am by no means suggesting that agencies should only take £10...no-one mentioned that except you...but it is a well known fact that a lot of agencies take half. Yes they have to run an office BUT I think half is too much when at the end of the day the teacher is doing the most difficult part of the job.
  9. teacha

    teacha Occasional commenter

    When I told the Head of the school where I am on long term supply how much I got paid, she was really shocked as she said that the agency are charging her a fortune for me. I would therefore assume that she is being charged around £200 for my services, of which I see a fraction of that!
    emmalcm1 likes this.
  10. emmalcm1

    emmalcm1 Established commenter

    @teacha The agency that gives me the most work pays £90 for a day teaching/ £100 if in SEN school or longer term, with the agency charging double that. £60 when I'm forced to accept CS work, again with agency charging double.
  11. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    Eva, they shouldn't be there in the first place taking any kind of cut whatsoever. You don't need agencies at all. It's a false supply chain, a bubble economy. Think rooms and elephants Eva. In Northern Ireland, two administrators and one database do the same job as hundreds of agencies competing with each other and charging millions of pounds annually. There is no excuse for agencies. There is no need for them. They have pushed into education and they are there to make money. Don't make me laugh about their overheads. It's not a tea shop, it's not a honest john tradesman working all hours to feed the family, it's big business.
    Forget gas bills and office rentals, this is what it really looks like in the world of multimillion pound supply agency bean counting.
    This is data from the declared accounts of just some of the bigger agencies:
    T...ching Person... made £15.4 million pounds profit on a turnover of £63.7 million, Supply D... made £5.7m profit, just one of the executive directors of Prot... earned £286,000 and their counterpart at Education Pers.... awarded themselves £392,000. That's some gas bill!
    Bear in mind that there are hundreds of agencies in England doing what one database and two administrators do for the whole of Northern Ireland.
    emmalcm1, snowyhead and Marijke like this.
  12. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Star commenter

    In Bristol Cover Supply is based in the Bristol Conservative Party Association headquarters. Love them or hate them, I have a feeling that supply agencies are here for a long while yet.
  13. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    What does it say about the over supply of would-be supply teachers if agencies treat them so appallingly? Clearly, they have no concerns about retaining staff on their books as they know that there is a ready pool of mugs for them to exploit.
    emmalcm1 likes this.
  14. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    Well, Jolly Roger, lets hope the tide is about to turn on unscrupulous agencies that have no qualms about asking qualified teachers to work for the minimum wage.
    emmalcm1 likes this.
  15. emmalcm1

    emmalcm1 Established commenter

    Hit the nail on the head!
  16. educ80

    educ80 Occasional commenter

    I crop up now and again to talk on behalf of, or to shine reason on, the operations of agencies and to explain why we do what we do. Often this means pleading ignorance as I can't speak for every agency, but at the very least trying to explain why some things happen
    I frequently get pilloried for it but I maintain anonymity to hopefully promote my neutrality if nothing else. I read a lot of things that sicken me about the industry, but also things that wholeheartedly make me want to scream about the perception of agencies as Scrooge McDucks diving into our pits of money as underpaid teachers weep on the sidelines and avaricious consultants bask in the Bahamas, giggling at the woefully treated supply teachers in the world.
    An area fairly near where I live, in an LA recently graded as inadequate (due to this cautionary tale) ran its own supply list. Three people ran it for the entire authority. After four months it was useless. DBS tracking was ineffective to the point of dangerous, availability of people wasn't maintained, a list was emailed out to all supply contacts each week but there were names of people on that list who were a) dead (b) retired (c) had moved away (d) were not available (e) Were no longer teaching (f) Had no system of differentiating between pri/sec/SEND. Unfortunately no one had been notified of what the "barred list" was either......
    It was essentially a phone directory of people who had at some stage been a teacher in the area. No quality control, safeguarding, reference checks, DBS update etc.....dangerous

    Its easy and disingenuous of me to say that Agencies are a blanket and unavoidable requirement and people should love them, however maintaining that two people sat at a PC in Whitehall can run the whole shebang makes me nervous beyond comprehension (more for the safety of my own children) and LADOs up and down the land would be waiting for the deluge!!!!!

    Agencies are run by humans. Humans make errors, are bad at their jobs, are greedy, ignore protocols, ring in sick, cut corners, forget things, don't mark work, drop things and generally aren't perfect. Teachers are also humans and are capable of all of the above. I could spend days relating stories of teachers that have worked on supply for me that would make your nose bleed, but I've never been a teacher so I don't criticise what I don't know. Most of these stories, however, aren't negative for teaching and learning reasons.
    Unfortunately, ( unless I've got it wrong and all the teachers in this forum have worked as a consultant at a busy supply teaching agency before sharpening their knives) that balance is not always present from contributors here and it would appear that blame is squarely been placed at the door of the relentless capitalist agencies with enormous offices and vast offshore wealth funds.

    For what it's worth, if a forum like this existed for Agency consultants, I would bet every last penny I have that the major issues that arose would not be whinging about teacher pay "demands"or teachers "turning down work" or even "schools cutting costs" it would be by an overwhelming majority, the behaviour and lack of proffessionalism of supply staff.

    I'm sorry to rant, I really am but these forums seem to be an argument with no rebuttal, an accusation with no accused, an allegation with no evidence, so if people really want a balanced viewpoint then without a voice representing the "other" side, it is similar to a biblical stoning. The BBC would not approve.
  17. PizzoCalabro

    PizzoCalabro Established commenter

    As a late career changer who used to work in a sales environment I understand the pressure the 'consultants' are under. And since I have never been in the 'public sector machine' or expected the 'Council' to be my employer, I actually do agree with the existence of agencies - they get me into schools without any effort on my part, and have been beneficial to me. It is easier to say 'no' to an agent because I have work direct say, than to another school. And because I come from a business background I expect a business relationship, not a paternalistic one as some teachers who have been in the system seem to expect. I assume everything is negotiable. I know there are sales targets to meet, and being 'paid to scale' is an anachronism - you should be paid for the value of the task or job you are doing, not because you have time-served. In the supply world, 30 years 'experience' is not worth an extra premium over someone new to the job, if they have the right personality and resilience.
    However the downright lies are inexcusable. And the insistence on being paid by an Umbrella Company - which one major agency actually put in an email to me. ( I forwarded it to my union who were not interested, despite having a high-profile campaign on, supposedly in support of supply teachers). I have found ONE agency that is honest and professional, and sticking with them and my direct schools and so far this term have had all the work I want, and advance bookings dotted thru the weeks up to Xmas.
    I would hate to have to be on some kind of bureaucratic nightmare 'Council List' - glad they have been widely scrapped.
    pepper5 likes this.
  18. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

  19. indusant

    indusant Senior commenter

    Don't be afraid of asking for more money. When I was doing long term supply I asked my agency for more. The agent went away to 'consult with their manager' then rang back later to offer me more. Once I worked out the hours that the job actually required to what I was being paid. It worked out to be less than minimum wage. Agencies will use underhand tactics to get the best deal for themselves. Don't let agencies pay a pittance. Do stand up for yourself.
    snowyhead and pepper5 like this.
  20. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    The only advantage of long term supply is continuity of work. If a supply teacher is on a long term assignment they will be expected to plan and mark and often will wind up working for less than the minimum wage.As indusant says it is important to negotiate and make sure you get a good deal.

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