1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Quality Mark for supply agencies and LEAs in Wales

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by njw654, Feb 9, 2010.

  1. I'm Nigel Williams and I'm the Quality Mark Assessor for Wales. The Quality Mark Wales, launched in 1997, based on the highly successful Quality Mark England award, is a Welsh Assembly Government scheme administered by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation. The scheme aims to raise standards in the recruitment of supply teachers. Currrently there are 8 agencies in Wales who have been granted the Quality Mark in recognition of their reaching the required quality threshold.
    I'm very keen to get all the agencies/LEAs who provide supply teachers to schools in Wales on board. I'd like to ask all supply teachers to check whether the agency they are dealing with has, or is interested in, the Quality Mark Wales. I'm particularly interested to know of any agencies/LEAs operating in mid and north Wales. For further details www.rec.uk Quality Mark Wales

  2. I am pleased to see you are doing Quality Mark Assessor for Wales, saves me moaning like anything. If you were Quality Mark England. Well I would have some words!
  3. It is good that there is a quality mark but I can see from your list that some of the agencies I have experienced are there and one, in particular, offers terrible rates of pay. I have heard stories of them recently offering just £50 a day for supply. They might meet your standards in the required areas but not in that.
  4. I meant to say they might meet your standards in the required areas but some don't meet my standards.
    Supply rates of pay through agencies can be terrible in Wales and certain agencies thrive by undercutting LA, advertising non existent posts to get gullible people on their books and paying the mass of NQTs that there are an absolute pittance. That is not what I call meeting quality standards.
  5. nigel,
    forgive me but no supply agency should be given a "quality mark".
    A quality mark for depriving qualified teachers of their pension rights?
    A quality mark for offering rates of pay up to 50% less than that of teaching colleagues in schools or those lucky enough to still manage to be employed through LEAs?
    A quality mark for bullying qualified teachers into taking cover supervisor and teaching asssistant work?
    A quality mark for parasitism?

  6. In england a quality mark with a big agency means low rates and bullying. From my point of view, a quality mark is worthless.
    Unless you quality mark people have a confidential reporting procedure to gain actual 'intelligence', about your quality mark agencies. . . . . . which would probably be legally difficult.
    Any agency staff who speak out would be quickly blacklisted.
    No quality mark person has approached me to ask me what I think in real life rough and tumble agency supply teaching.
    Tick the boxes and fill in the forms. Let the agency staff have a quality mark party to celebrate their achievements.
    At least OFSTED check the learning of the children. I see no evidence whatsoever of Quality Mark people approaching us supply teachers.
    So Supply teachers how often have you been involved in the Quality Mark process? I shall apologise if I have this wrong and you have been approached by Quality Mark on their criteria!
    Stick to the schools and agencies where you happily belong! Let LEA's use only Quality Mark agencies and leave the good smaller agency operations to wither.
    Good luck with Quality Mark Wales,
    sorry guys and gals I am a bit passionate on this one.

  7. Yep raise the standard of recruitment of supply teachers in Wales, Like in England, well no probs there at all.
    I can assure you the standard of recruitment of supply teachers in England is very high, Wether mega agency or cottage industry agency.
    I can also imagine the recruitment standard of supply in Wales being just as high.
    However maybe worth looking at the retention rate of some of the agencies. I suspect you will only be looking at the front door and not the back door.
    Find out why supply like working at some agencies and not others. Big companies often have an exit interview. worth looking at. . . . . . . you will find some warts and it will not always be with the supply teacher!

  8. Anyway I am off this post as it makes my blood boil!
    To model the Welsh system on the English system and quote the English system as successful! Do you really believe that! are you mad?
    Men of Harlech (and women) of course. Go and suggest your agency approaches this lot for a quality mark!
    So they can make your life even more difficult with more paperwork when they take you on, and not care a jot when you leave an agency.

  9. What are the issues. I work closely with the Quality Mark England team
  10. Nigel the best way to find out about supply teaching is to go and sign with three agencies. You will find the recruitment proccess really the same. Generally very rigorous and careful.
    Maybe you have worked as an agency supply teacher recently in which case I will apologise for my moaning.
    However the recruitment proccess is only the first phase of the business.
    Some agencies (with quality mark) will bully you. If you do not take these rates well your work will dry up sort of thing. So check the agency has printed their rates and their supply teachers have agreed to them. With no evidence of agencies trying to go against their ageed rates over the telephone in the morning. I have left agencies because of this which also means a school is deprived of my skills. So the agency loses a quality service even if their recruitment is good.
    Here is a big one - How does a school and agency deal with an allegation against a supply teacher? A possible answer is the school phones the agency and says I do not want that supply send me another. No formal procedure needed, and not very nice for the supply teacher. (not happened to me yet) however always a big worry. And also even worse you could end up not even knowing an allegation has been made.
    CRB's for the supply always a big pain. A supply needs to work with more than one agency so it gets expensive if you pay for your own. So portability of CRB's between your Quality Mark Agencies need to be addressed. A common policy with commercial companies in competition. not easy.
    References - Becoming an issue. If you do day to day work for a length of time then schools cannot really give you a reference. An agency cannot give you a professional reference either as understandably they are not qualified teachers and there is no formal procedure on this. So a standard agency reference. With recent activity and the schools they have worked in should suffice when an agency teacher wants to sign with another agency.
    Staff turn over- In the agency office rapidly changing negotiators are no good whatsoever.
    Staff turn over - The supply teacher why are they jumping ship from an agency. You really need to get the feet moving and talk to some supply teachers.
    Agency supply teaching is a three way process The Agency - The School - The Supply Teacher.
    However in my view a quality mark with an agency is not worth a jot. Even worse if LEA's start restricting schools to agencies with quality mark to cover their staffing problems. Then this will reduce our chances to negotiate with schools directly and cut agencies out of the bracket.
    As a supply teacher I wish I could work as a sole trader direct to schools. However big LEA policy ideas screw all this up.
    So what does Quality Mark do for us lot Nigel?

  11. Anyway my advice to my Welsh colleagues is do not support the integration of Quality Mark as they will not be interested in you the foot soldiers.
    The agencies will get a Quality Mark for their letterhead and boast it as good practise. It will not mean a jot to you at best. At worse it will encourage restrictive practices which will not be in your interest.
    As it could ruin your chances of direct work with schools. The LEA could play mein fuhrer routine, sign up all the schools with low paying agencies and have a policy which says you can only use these agencies with Quality Mark. Not good at all.
    Agencies can be smug with Quality Mark Schools can be smug with Quality Mark. Us lot . . . . . . not very smug at the moment at all!
  12. I am about to return to supply teaching after maternity leave. I have been shocked at how many of my 'old' schools now only deal with agencies. I have decided I am not going to make an agency richer from my teaching work. Therefore, I am only going to work for schools who will employ me through the LEA. I would prefer to offer some kind of a deal to the school, than work for less than I was paid as an NQT well over a decade ago!! These agencies may deserve a quality mark for the way they run their business but not for the quality of the teachers they're supplying, as they do not check anything other than the paperwork.
    I'm under the impression that agency workers in other industries are paid a higher daily rate that their fully employed colleagues. Does anyone know if it's only teaching that pays significantly less to agency workers?
    Will let you know if I get any work, I am going to visit two schools this week who deal direct with supply teachers, so fingers crossed.
  13. Geoff you obviously have a problem with agencies or you would see that there are many good reasons to work with quality mark companies. I manage the branch of a quality mark holder agency. I won't say which one as I prefer to keep my job and I'm not sure how my bosses would react.
    I have also worked on supply so understand the many frustrations. In a number of cases though you are barking up the wrong tree and blaming the quality mark for things that government, LAs and civil servants should be addressing. Particularly the issue of cover supervisors, but I'll come onto that.
    What do you think the education sector of this industry would be like without something like the quality mark? Cowboys would be placing teachers without a care for child safety. We have to ensure that everyon through our books is cleared on every area of their background including right to work, criminal record, qualifications, GTC, ability to teach,etc etc etc. I can put my head on my pillow at night knowing that I have covered every eventuality when recruiting my teachers and that to the best of my ability no child is at risk because I have cut corners. And I will not apologise for insisting on two references. That is normal best practice in any area of recruitment. Someone who has been out of the loop for a couple of years should go off and do a returners course anyway. How can anyone expect to return to teaching without making sure they understand all the most recent developments?
    We are very pro the portability of CRBs and do this quite happily. It is not the fault of th Quality Mark that not all agencies do the same. Quality mark asks us to but my understanding is that the DCSF will not make it a requirement of the scheme, just an "ask".
    As for covers supervisors, don't blame the agencies. The request comes from Head Teachers who, despite knowing they should ask for someone with QTS first, frankly often ignore the rules. We are a business and if our client refuses to pay for a qualified teacher, the Head will hold us to ransom by threatening to go somewhere else for their staff. I have always said that if parents knew how many unqualifieds were in charge of their children on a daily basis they would completely freak out. But I repeat, it is not the agencies fault that the client demands this.
    Have you told anyone in the quality mark before now about your concerns geoff? Because perhaps part of the problem is that people do not report wrong doing, just moan about it in places like this - which is why I generally avoid forums, but on seeing this topic I couldn't resist defending people whos scheme has been vital to raising the reputation of our industry. They are actually very nice people in the quality mark team, they do a fanstastic job with what appear to be limited resources and I am sure they would follow up any complaint that you could substantiate.
  14. beatie,
    i dont think supply teachers have a problem with agencies having a quality mark.
    The problem is beating down teachers on a day's pay that is barely worth having.
    You say it's down to the HTs who demand that you break the rules and send them
    cover teachers or they will go elsewhere.
    Presumably by using mainly cover teachers you are reducing your profits as you earn less
    per cover supervisor rate than per qualified teacher rate.
    Therefore if you recruited and sent out only qualified teachers at only qualified teacher rates -thereby really earning your "quality" mark- your agency would gain all the qualified teachers.
    The corrupt agencies that "ignore the rules" would be left with their cover supervisors and you
    would have increased profits and a diamond zillion carat quality mark.
  15. On working with agencies, I do not believe my previous posts on the subject were aimed exclusively at agencies.
    On recruitment and vetting. The agencies I worked for without quality mark had systems in place as good as anyother agency and were not cowboys.
    My point was the Quality Mark website infers that their role is good for us supply. As invited before, I have not heard of any supply teacher who has been asked for by Quality Mark for their input on the agency style service.
    I agree the agencies are under pressure from the schools for a bottom line service.
    However agencies Quality Mark or otherwise should have agreed rates with their supply teachers and negotiations should not be done on the end of a phone in the morning, as it is not negotiating it is bullying. If you do not take the rate you will not get anymore work kind of thing.
    Your agency may not do this however it is a feature of the Big guy Quality Mark agency.
    Making official complaints by a supply teacher about any agency or school in the sector, would be foolish as of course your next booking is definately Jobcentre Plus.
    My name is not Geoff by the way. And I still work with good agencies, Quality Mark or otherwise I could not care a jot providing they pay OK rates and are reasonably equitable.
  16. On working with the agency sector. I worked as a casual agency silver service waiter in London. With a big agency, the rates were agreed and were never negotiated on at the time of booking. They were across the board.
    From my point of view, agency silver service waiter was more equitable than agency professional teacher.

  17. I also know one agency without quality mark who are operating in a cottage industry kind of way. They do not recruit or provide CS. They are ex-agency negotiators, their systems and vetting are as good as any of the bigger agencies.
    They do not provide loads of work as their niche is providing schools with not just Quality Teachers but almost Guaranteed Quality Teachers.
    Essentially they are doing what professional recruitment agencies used to be good at. Saving organizations time and money in the recruitment process and providing staff to cover for longish absence.
    I sincerely hope they continue to do this. The big agencies can then deal with what they are good at doing, which is providing rigerous vetting for the cowboy army, which the schools are satisfied with for their short term cover.
    IE It would be great if loads of cottage industry agencies sprang up working the long term niche. Then leave the cowboy stuff to the big guys with their Quality Mark Letterheads.
    Anyway, phew glad you can get to sleep OK at night knowing the youngsters are protected with Quality Mark!
  18. I am with geffone on this one. No one is saying that the quality mark might not be useful to show people that agencies are recruiting properly and following appropriate guidelines with regards to certain criteria as long as we are all clear that the Quality Mark does not mean that supply teachers are being paid well and that the Quality Mark does not guarantee a school that they are getting a quality teacher. It simply shows that the agency has been assessed in regards to certain criteria and have been found to have met them.
    As geffone pointed out, there may be agencies out there that work well without the quality mark.
    Incidentally, does your agency provide courses for returners? Or any courses at all for that matter. It is very easy to say that teachers should go on one but I am yet to find such courses in my area. A good agency would provide them. A good agency recognises that treating quality staff well is of benefit to them and their customers. They do not need a quality mark for that.
  19. Yes I like that one, if a supply teacher has a baby or is sick for awhile, then it is a Return to Teachers course for you. (might take you about 6 months to get on one if you are lucky). To get to know all the new classroom wheezes.
    A couple of days in a classroom on supply will see if you are up to speed. And if you are not up to speed you are dropped, as it always was, even before all the new Quangoes.
    However as you have classroom experience as a qualified teacher, we can probably offer you some CS work! If you take the CS work for any length of time well you are gonna have a heluva job getting on a Return to Teach Course.
    Bit miffed at the agency quality mark dude having a snipe that we are a bunch of forum moaners. When I started on this forum about two years ago. Well it was often a bit of fun and interest. However with every new idea from the Quangoes nothing has made our difficult role easier. Seeing our rates take a nose dive, with non of the Quangoes or unions being bothered has only seen the development of a somewhat de-moralized workforce.
    As for me agency bashing. Most of my views are restrained. The schools want the bottom line, the agencies provide the bottom line. A few agencies maintain honest negotiation. Most of them do not!
    Quality Mark should be honest on their website and restrict themselves to monitoring vetting only. Blase statements about them being good for us lot is simply ridiculous.
    As for saying Quality Mark are very nice people and underfunded. Well keep them underfunded is my view.

  20. <font size="2">Excuse me for opening a can of worms on a topic that hasn't been seen to in quite a while but I felt the impulsion to do so, as opinions on the Welsh quality mark, or more to the point, any quality mark being seen with some regard in Wales was the subject that drew me to this site. Forgive me for being somewhat disappointed at the general reaction on this thread by teachers themselves. Particularly with blanket statements such as 'non-quality mark agencies do the job just as well' and 'the big guns just want something impressive on their letterheads.'

    If there is absolutely no auditing feature for an agency how can anyone be sure that the job is being done properly? It's little things, like not only ticking the box on a CRB form to say you've seen the necessary documents but also having seen those documents, in date, and having photocopied and signed them to prove just that. Then to have them filed away... to be audited at any given time, so the agency must ensure such things are done and signed off before sending someone in to a school. Because, the scary thing is, should a particularly intelligent and skilled person with a vested interest in harming and abusing children wishes, he/(s)he can sign up with an agency who needs the staff and will take their word on where they've lived / what their date of birth is / not seeing sufficient ID because, let's face it, they need the staff and who's going to check? I know of teaching assistants who, 6 months into working for an agency are being chased half heartedly for eligibility documents that were never produced. It may seem like red tape, but it only takes one national tragedy, such as Ian Huntley and the introduction of the CRB to open people's eyes to the implications of tardiness, and where children are involved I personally would rather that didn't have to happen.

    Sure, I get it, agencies are the route of all evil and would only be championed by supply teachers if it were to offer fair pay / working conditions / CPD etc, but surely you people realize that it is the sheer volume of agencies that can set themselves up without obligations such as the Quality Mark and no such standards to maintain that they have managed to undercut each other to the extent that they have and create the pay and conditions we&rsquo;re seeing now. No one can have all the business, it's a logistical nightmare. Say there are (at most I'd say) 4 agencies in Wales that currently hold the English Quality Mark (and one still claims to hold the Welsh Quality Mark even though the scheme no longer exists and theirs is expired) and you cut out every other competitor offering rates at less than MPS for an NQT - doesn't anyone realise that this would, without a shadow of a doubt, improve the situation because the schools can no longer accept and cut corners based on a ridiculous price. Assuming, perhaps, that those with (quite justified) jibes about HLTAs and Cover Supervisors are completely right to be disgusted by the lack of properly paid work on offer in favour of unqualified babysitters - is it not possible, that agencies that have proven to do things, completely by the book, and then have to continue to prove that once or twice a year, may be aware of the three day rule in the classroom, and may even try and enforce that for the benefit of their teachers, and their reputation, and with less opportunity for a school to find a cowboy who will pander to their every whim as only those who have a proven record would still be in business?

    All of this, of course, is speaking in terms of 'an ideal world.' I ventured on to this site to see if anyone else was struggling to see a good reason why there has been no government intervention, regarding compulsory vetting and auditing for supply agencies in England and Wales. A bit of exposure might also shed some light on some of the practices of schools and their reluctance to fork out for a teacher these days. Thought maybe people might have been planning a way of bringing these things to light with a view of, maybe, improving the working conditions of agency staff, and the learning conditions of school children all over the country.

    That's not what I saw, in fact what I saw was quite the opposite. And, parallel to the state of this entire industry at the moment, it was rather depressing. </font>

Share This Page