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

Sign the Petition - End the Supply Teaching Agency Rip Off!

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by Richard Knights, Jul 5, 2015.

  1. Petition

  2. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

  3. bonnie1

    bonnie1 Senior commenter

  4. "We offer Consultants the genuine opportunity to be able to hit realistic targets and to make as much money as possible. We do not tell you how much you should or should not be charging a client ."

    From a publicly available webpage linked with an agency. Doesn't it kind of sums it all, in relation to the millions of pounds thrown at agencies every year from the budget and greedily grabbed by them at the expense of exploiting the schools and teachers and support staff.
  5. slingshotsally

    slingshotsally Star commenter

  6. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I have to say that, whilst I know there are very very negative experiences to be had with certain supply agencies, I'm not sure why there needs to be such a venomous campaign against the individuals who run them, in comparison to any other sort of recruitment agency that matches clients with job positions and acts as a middle man.

    Would removing agencies result in supply teachers being paid more money? Would it make schools run more efficiently? Would it guarantee more work for day-to-day supply teachers?

    I can see why many are upset about this, but can't yet see what alternative system is going to benefit. At the moment, I have 2 different agencies looking for day to day work for me; the alternative is ringing around tons of different schools trying to get my face known and my foot in the door and hoping I'll be at the top of their list for The Call first thing each morning.

    My current agency (one in particular) ensures that I get paid an appropriate wage. I'm sure I'll eat my words if things chance, but at the moment I'm happy with my lot.
  7. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    From what I can see, the petition is asking why agencies are considered a rip-off in the NHS but it appears that in education they are not.
    schoolsout4summer likes this.
  8. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I suppose your perspective depends on your experience of a particular agency. My main agency has so far paid me what I consider to be a very fair daily rate of £140 (I was UPS3 in my last full time post) rising to £165/170 after the 12 week period where pay parity 'clicks in'.

    In actual fact, I've asked them not to pay my the extra since I do not wish to take on the expected workload for the additional money, but they seem to be paying it to me anyway at the moment.

    I'm doing supply as a means to an end. I'm building up two businesses of my own and doing supply to make some cash during the day, as both of my businesses are very much evening and weekend based.

    So long as I can get 2 or 3 days per week (during peak season) at £140 per day, I'm happy with that.

    I guess if you're on supply and it's not through choice, and you're being exploited, it's a different matter.
  9. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    I was thinking about this. How much could the UK supply market be worth? How much money might be tapped out of schools?

    Consider this:

    If an agency charges a school about £185 (low estimate) for a day and pays the teacher £110 (estimated average day rate) that's £75 mark up. Assume that agency has more than one teacher on their books, this will just multiply by the number of teachers placed per day.

    Now, assume that each of these teachers is paid via umbrella company, this means that the £75 is now gross income for the branch. They don't have to pay NI, PAYE or Pension contributions.

    We know from evidence that agencies might charge up to £210 per day to the school and pay under £100 to the teacher, depending on how good the schools and teachers are at negotiating the own deal, so I've gone for a realistic middle estimate.

    Even if there are oncosts for premises and office staff costs, the profit starts ramping up. If they are a subsidiary of a larger parent company, office costs will be dealt with at head office. The branch office will just need to meet its sales targets to be viable or exceed them to get bonuses.

    Now, according to government figures, there are about 440,000 teachers working in England.

    If just one in a hundred of them was off sick, or on leave, or suspended for over a week that would be a potential week's work for more than 4000 supply teachers.

    So as the year progresses, we can estimate that at least 4000 supply teachers are going out to work on any given day.

    Multiply that by the gross amount the agency might mark up (£75) and we have a figure of £300,000 per day. Multiply that by the number of working days in a year (195) and we get a figure of over £58million.

    OK, these are just napkin jottings and not a scientific study, but anyone can see that a market that potentially yields that sort of money after costs, is a nice little earner.
    snowyhead and emmalcm like this.
  10. PizzoCalabro

    PizzoCalabro Established commenter

    Precisely why so many in the game!
  11. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    I have no proper evidence for this but I suspect the number of supply teachers "out there" is closer to 10000.
  12. Apparently the national studies in the States show that 5 to 10 percent of teachers are absent each day. So even if only 5 percent take the day off in the UK and given that we have 440,000 working teachers, do the math. Add to this long-term supply teachers who are not employed by the schools but by the agencies. Indeed, why so many care to be in the business.
  13. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    Peakster, we know that there are an awful lot more than 4,000 supply teachers all told. . There are more than 10,000 supply members in the NUT alone besides those in other unions or not with a union at all. So we can guestimate around 25,000+and that's still being very cautious. How many of them are out working at any one time and how many of them are working for agencies is beyond anyone's means to count with any accuracy. We can't know exactly how many agency supply teachers there are as most are registered with several agencies so there would be no way of counting the figures.

    I was basing my calculations on the demand for rather than the supply of and positing the lowest possible viable figure. We know that agencies over-staff so that they have a big list to call on if there is a surge so several of those registered are likely to be dormant for long periods.

    If a secondary school has a staff of about 50 and there are two secondary schools in a small to middle sized town, we can be reasonably confident that on any day in any town, one teacher will be out of school. That's how I grabbed the 1% idea. I don't think anyone has the figures. Since supply teaches don't work for statutory providers, there are no government figures as there are for full time teachers in schools.

    There are also several teachers working full time in schools, particularly with some academy chains and special schools run by charities who are not directly employed but working through agencies. As was reported on here, one school allegedly has an on-site agency who rent office space in the school. (The poster has not disclosed where it is but if you know, do tell.)

    There are over 24,000 schools in England according to Government figures, so it's easy to see why so many recruitment agencies have been able to create a market by diversifying their operations into education. Whether this is any good for education is a debatable point. My views are no secret, I don't believe it is.

    Almeidaa, The figures I gave above are just an illustration of what the size of the market would be if just 1% of teachers were off. We could just multiply that if we had more evidence. We have to bear in mind that many schools cover short term absence internally with cover supervisors and ancillary staff. Some don't ever bring in qualified teachers to cover and get away with it for years.

    The NUT has attempted to survey schools' leadership to establish what their supply needs are and how they deploy cover staff. Understandably the return was too small to be even indicative. We know that schools are using unqualified staff but since cover and supply is not part of the Ofsted audit, very few schools abide by the four day recommendation.

    As you say, we can reckon on the numbers being considerably higher averaged out over a year, even if we factor in the quiet times up to October half term and after GCSE.
  14. *nods* as you've mentioned Nearmiss, hard to tell the exact figures realistically due to different factors and just by taking a 1% of absenteeism into consideration as an example the figures show millions of pounds are in this.
  15. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    Most head teachers claim not to be aware of what is going on. The responsibility for supply is delegated to administrators and no one ever questions what happens to the money. Even if the lowest estimate of £58m p.a. is being snapped up as clear profit, it does not justify any of the perceived benefits of the agencies' role.
  16. Ok I understand that there might be some benefits for the government in not treating teachers who work as supply as qualified key workers that they are and for allowing commercial agencies.

    What raises more of a question mark for me is that, considering those few agencies (although I see that there is only one, which is associated with TES, at the moment that seem to be treating all those on its books equally) that pay teachers fairly and charge schools fairly (perhaps by sticking to the recommended but not enforced 30% maximum commission) are obviously earning enough to pay for their expenses and still make a profit - then why are the agencies not regulated by the goverment, as it is its own money that is going to the agencies obviously much more than it needs to go.
  17. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    I can't even vouch for the agency you mentioned as I have correspondents who have mentioned that they are messing around with pay too by reclassifying teaching jobs as cover supervision.

    However, on the question of why so may agencies are getting away with barging in and helping themselves to money that is not earmarked for them, the Coalition got rid of the REC's powers in 2010. A lobby of Parliament by NUT supply teachers in 2014 unearthed a few Conservative constituency MPs who all came out with the same justification which is that schools are free to spend their budget as they please and that the proliferation of agencies offers them a choice. That choice being rubbish or even worse.

    That is the is the reason agencies are not regulated by the government.

    The REC can not tell its members how to run their own business. That is not their role. The government is regenerating the economy by creating a bubble economy of middlemen and brokers.

    The moderate middle of the opposition knows that putting money into supporting the qualified key workers will jeapordise the jobs of middlemen and brokers in the non-statutory market, so they are avoiding making any comment.

    Only the so-called loony left can see that the supply market is draining schools of money and not helping recruit teachers but actually inhibiting recruitment.
  18. If this happened in another country, not that it did or would, because as you pointed out having teachers work through non-statutory profit making agencies is unique to the England and Wales. But if in another country there were an attempt to have teachers and doctors work through commissioners, stripped off their rights as key workers... what would people do?

    Would they keep quiet (as some is doing)? Campaign (which we are doing to some extent)? Come together under the unions' roof and collectively sue the related units of the government, and if no result in the UK courts take it to the human rights court (it is not too utopic or out there I trust as it is something that people actually did for different reasons)? People are treated as they are treated - as long as it is allowed.

    The dilemma is that, the gov has to either pronounce the recruitment agencies as statutory bodies (which is not a realisitic option) or relaunch LEA pools (which is the realistic option) and allow us to be treated as key workers. I for one would definitely prefer to get less than £145-£160 that I am getting or being offerred but instead have access to the professional/teachers pension scheme as a qualified key worker and not bother with all the bargaining process (which can lead to getting paid anything between £80-£180 depending on your bargaining power and not always to do with your skills) that comes with dealing with the recruitment agencies.
  19. Oh forgot to add. According to this, and this the recruitment industry (education and others) have made over £28 billion revenue in 2014 alone. So I am confident the wheel of bubble economy with their support would continue spinning if qualified key workers are spared and not allowed to deal with jumped up sales people.
  20. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

Share This Page