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New Supply teacher

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by phall4, Sep 21, 2015.

  1. Hello,

    I am trying to enter the supply market having taken semi-retirement in July.

    I didn't bring all my old planning with me and wondered if there were any particular books that might be useful for KS1 and 2 or if anyone has general advice to give, e.g. agency vs direct school contact, etc.
  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    Welcome to the world of supply teaching.

    Your questions have been answered in some depth recently on different threads, so if you scroll down, you will find the recent threads. Also, you can do a search using the search button this site to come up with answers to the two common questions you ask.

    Briefly, though it is not necessary to do loads of planning and if you need some recent material, you can look on this site under resources.

    It is always better to try to work through directly with a school and not through an agency, but if you want someone to do the legwork for you then you can use an agency. If you tell people the general location where you are, you can ask people to private message you with the agencies in that area they consider good to use.

  3. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    If you are considering signing up with an agency, read a few of the previous threads on this matter. It's a very contentious matter as agencies are basically sales offices so you need to have some negotiating skills to bash out a decent deal for yourself.
    Direct is best, especially if you have existing contacts with a local school.
    The question of planning is also pretty contentious. Since the introduction of Cover Supervisors, the job description needs to match the pay offered. If it's a full classroom role with full responsibilities, then you should be paid the going rate.
    If it's just day to day, ad hoc cover, you might expect to be offered a lower rate by agencies. However, for that lower rate, don't feel the need to do any work outside the classroom other than essential tick marking and correction (if primary) and leaving the classroom as you found it. If secondary and out of your specialist subject area, just doing day to day does not require you to prepare lessons or provide any materials.
    There are no fixed rates of pay.
    Whether self-employed via agency, self-employed working direct with schools or agency employed, you have fewer employment rights. No holiday pay (only a few agencies offer a minimal in-house scheme), no sick pay, no pension.
    Some agencies offer travel and subsistence expenses, but this often obliges you to sign up to an umbrella payroll service which is fraught with pitfalls and ultimately does not offer value for money.
    But before anything else, is your DBS certificate renewed? You won't be allowed on the premises without that regardless of which route you decide on.
    Good luck.
  4. Maniya

    Maniya New commenter

    Hello Nearmiss,

    It is quite impressive that you take time to reply in a realistic and helpful way. Good on you. Many supply teachers feel lost and alone and no one really is there to give sound advice. I have been supplying for a few years now. Schools sometimes tend to ask for me. This question of working directly for the school did arise. From what I have gathered, many schools prefer dealing with agencies. Is this true? What is your experience on this? Does the teacher invoice the school directly. Please let me know if you any info on this.
  5. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    If you are contracted to an agency, the agency bills the school, takes their cut and then pays you. Once the agency has introduced you to a school, you are not to bill the school yourself or negotiate any change in rates of pay with the school directly. The agency must act as intermediary. Furthermore, within 6 months of the placement, the agency can charge an introduction fee if a client school offers you work directly (assuming the agency ever finds out).
    It is worth approaching schools directly. Don't just send a CV to the Head as that will end up in the bin. You need to send a good, brief, persuasive letter to a named person (find out who the supply admin. is in advance) back this up with an email and a phone call.
    They want to know what you offer, when you are available, how to contact you at short notice, that you have DBS. If you are employed directly by a school even on an ad hoc basis, you will be paid to scale and get your pension contributions paid.
    Agencies do not do this. Many agencies now insist that you are paid via an offshore umbrella payroll scheme. This means that you are now no longer an employee of the the agency but of the payroll company itself which being domiciled outside the UK robs you of all your employees' rights and leaves you liable to pay both your own and the employer's NI contribution plus an admin. fee to the company for processing the payroll after you have filled in endless forms and they send you a payslip which is impossible to understand.
    There are still agencies who will pay you through their own UK based payroll office. You have to ask for it or you will most likely be put straight on an umbrella scheme otherwise. Insist that you pay PAYE if you enrol with an agency.
    On a very serious note: there are several rogue operators out there who masquerade as supply agencies but are basically fraudsters. Be careful who you give your personal details and bank info. to. First check them out online to see who they are. Are they registered with Companies House, check out the agent you speak to on LinkedIn before you give them your confidential data. Are they really working for one of the major agencies? This sort of thing has brought the whole agency sector into disrepute. Even the reputable agencies take a very substantial cut out of what they charge to schools, but at least they do place you in work and will get paid something. Make sure you have seen the pay rate in writing before you go on every placement. Ask the agency to confirm the booking in writing. I always have to remind my agency that I am not on the rate quoted on the booking email.
    For an NQT the bottom agency rate should be £110 per day. As a qualified and long serving teacher, when you have done a few assignments, you can reasonably ask for £150 and be prepared to haggle down to about £130. Agencies charge the school about £180 - 210 per day for your services so they can negotiate. Just be polite and reasonable and don't let on you know how much they charge the school.
    Above all, renew your union membership. Supply teachers pay reduced fees with any union.

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