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Supply agency - rights and wrongs

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by tomkins15, Oct 17, 2011.

  1. tomkins15

    tomkins15 New commenter

    I have recently started working with supply agencies. A few days ago, one of my agencies asked (or rather, persuaded me) to let them put my CV forward for a job interview for a longer term contract. Although I would welcome a regular income again, now they have finally told me the school, it is one that I do not really want to go to. It is a tough, inner-city school, but it will also take me an hour and a quarter to get there, with several changes on the way. For me, I feel this is not what I want, but now my consultant has told me that she has arranged an interview for me on Thursday - and, although it is for a year 3 contract, to start after half-term, the interview will be in year 2. Initially, she had arranged it (without consulting me) for 9am tomorrow morning. I reminded her that I had a day of work booked through her, and explained that I could not really afford to lose a day's pay, with half-term coming up. She was not happy and said that my priority should be this (the interview), that my day's work could be cancelled. I politely told her that my current priority was to be able to pay my rent. I felt quite angry with this consultant - I have found her pushy, extremely economical with the truth, and manipulative, since I registered with this agency.
    Right at the beginning, the consultant told me to keep the Monday afternoon free for an interview - they just needed to let her know the interview times. Friday came, and no notification - except to say that she would ring me over the weekend - the head at the school just needed to confirm interview times. She stressed again that I needed to keep the Monday afternoon free, which I did. Since July, I have had only 2 and a half days work with them. The first day was at a Secondary school (I am Primary trained) as a cover supervisor, for far, far less pay than for teaching. She did not tell me that it was a secondary school until I got there. Nor did she explain to me what Cover Supervisor was (I thought it was just another term for Cover Teacher). She just said she'd got some work for me when she rang me early in the morning. Then, on my next day with them, she sent me to a school which was a long way off and difficult to get to. It was in year 6 (there was the quantity and depth of marking you might reasonably expect for year 6). She did not tell me that it was only for half a day, and again, I did not find this out until I got there. I felt a little silly when I asked at the school where I would be in the afternoon and was told I was only there for the morning. By the time I had marked and travelled home, it was almost a days work - with half a day's pay, of course. I could have at least made an informed decision about taking the work if I had known it was for half a day at the outset. Due to these things and two other matters, where this person tried to push me into sending off my CV to very similar schools to the one I have the interview for, despite my polite, but repeated exertions that I did not wish this, I feel a little mistrust towards her.
    I am wondering now, though, if I have to go for the interview on Thursday. Apart from the fact that I feel the school is not for me and the journey is quite long, I may have the chance of work with another (very good) agency on that day. Would it be unprofessional to tell her that I do not wish to go for this? There is a full interview, complete with 45 min observation, which I will need to prepare for - and although it is good experience, I do not really feel like putting myself through this when I know I do not want to go to this school. If I did go, and was offered the position, would I be obliged to accept it?
    I would be grateful for any constructive comments. Thank you.
  2. As a supply teacher you are not obliged to accept work offered and not obliged to go for that interview. It's one of the few advantages of doing supply that you are free to accept and refuse work as you like. The 'consultant' might kick up a fuss but your contract does not bind you in any way. On the other hand, it is just common politeness to let them know asap if you are not going to keep assignments or appointments they make for you. You should tell this agency which areas and age groups you want to work with, ask them to put it on your file, and then you simply say, 'no, if you look at my file you can see I do not work as a cover supervisor' etc. Of course if you do not accept assignments you will find they do not offer them and you will gradually hear from that agency less and less. But that could well be a blessing in disguise in this case!
  3. JeanL

    JeanL New commenter

    Either go for the interview & demo lesson experience or just to keep the agency happy. Some agencies will pay you for the interview day if you do some some supply work at that school on the same day. You don't have to take the job!

    I just got dropped by an agency because they told me 3 weeks into a gig that they were only going to pay me cover teacher rates, not suply teacher rates. When I protested, they replaced me and now I have no work. Shame too, as I really liked the school.
  4. I think you should ring them and say you won't be attending. You don't want the job and feel pressured into it. It's not worth it. Very often, but not always, the long term jobs offered via supply agencies are the ones that they couldn't fill through normal advertising.
    Think about why you are doing supply, the kind of job you want to end up with and whether this job fits. I think you'll find it doesn't.
    Don't get into any kind of argument about it just say you have considered all the variables and this job isn't for you. Don't feel guilty.
  5. I think you have been sucked in a bit.
    If you want to work in the school then you go and do the interview observation whatever. (no pay)
    If you don't want to work in the school , then say you will do a booked supply day (paid) they can throw in an interview at the end of the day.
    Tell em it aint worth your while, so put up some money or shut up (not in that language of course)

  6. I may have sounded a bit harsh, I have done unpaid days in school, so called interview.
    Here is my game plan, it is unlikely when asked to do this that I know the school. I only do it with good agencies.
    I ask the agency is this just a check out to see what I am like?
    Or is this a competative interview? ie other applicants for what is not a full time job.
    IF it is competative I say I will do it, if I am free and not booked. Sometimes I have done this kind of stuff to do a favour for a good agency if I am not working.
    I go in, represent a good agency as a favour (unpaid). Only good agencies though! Which excludes most of em

  7. LOL I read the original post a bit more. They have sent you to a secondary without telling you when you are primary.
    I hope this agency does not have Quality Mark!
    I would give this agency a miss ASP
  8. I really can't believe agencies behave like that. Mine are really lovely when they call, although they do check I am available and have me say yes before I am told where but its not been an issue. I am even surprised I haven't been called for work other than what I said I would take. Once they rang out of sheer emergency for a last minute job knowing I can't usually do them but to double check on that instance.

    If you haven't had much work I would ditch them and try the other agency you mention. You have no right to be treat like that and the point of supply is you can pick and choose, although being too picky lessens your future chances if work.

    Good luck.
  9. tomkins15

    tomkins15 New commenter

    I just wanted to say 'thank you' to everyone who replied. My faith in agencies is not completely lost - fortunately, I am registered with another one who have been nothing but fair, honest and I have had quite a few days of work with them. I consider myself lucky with them. As I have only had 2 and a half days work with this agency, I think I'll tell them tomorrow that I don't want to go for this post. Thanks again everyone - it's really helped!
  10. I am thinking about joining another agency as I am with three at the moment but generally rely on one in particular but I am not getting enough work at the moment.
    I am in the SW-would anyone recommend a good one for me to join?
  11. I had the same issues as a lot of people have been reporting here. I was working for a supply agency in London and I was constantly getting phone calls from the agency about going to job interviews and they even set up a few interviews that either I could not attend or did not want to go to.
    The angency knew my circumstances and that I was travelling back and forth from The Netherlands (that is where I live) and that I did not want to be tied down to a particular school. After I had told them this all of a sudden I stopped getting work with them as "apparently they had nothing." Even though a few of my friends with the same agency were always getting work and they were telling them that they did not have enough teachers!!!!
    Luckily I had also signed up for another agency as my back up. I started using them and I got enough work to get me through the school year!
  12. I have had a few experiences of getting a phone call form an agency, telling me that it had 'arranged' an interview and/or trial day in a school at a school ridiculously far away and / or not in my subject. An example of this that comes to mind was a school in Dorking, when i live in NW London. I am not sure what the purpose of this was, as I would be unlikely to be considered as a serious candidate. The agency then 'holds it against you', when you subsequently approach them for work. Perhaps this sort fo thing is a 'compliability' test.
  13. This seems to be a common theme. The problem here is that "consultants" are effectively pimps. You are the product and the school is the customer. The consultants get a commission for selling the product, and for some of them, the sales tactic involves dishonesty and aggression. It sounds like this pushy consultant is not acting in your best interests and should be avoided.
    In my experience, aggressive consultants will do your teaching career and reputation more harm than good. The warning signs are:
    1. The agency sends your CV to schools and arranges interviews without consulting you first, then expect you to drop all your other commitments to attend it (this may also harm your chances of getting a permanent post, as you don't know which schools the "consultant" has introduced you to....and the application form you spent all day completing goes in the school bin).
    2. The agency doesn't tell you which school they've arranged an interview with until you agree to attend.
    3. They get aggressive if questioned and are evasive about important details, e.g. daily rate, NQT induction, length of booking.
    4. They are economical with the truth. (I've had one school refuse to pay me for a booking because they asked for an X subject specialist, mine is Y and the agency lied to the school that they were sending a teacher with a specialism in X.)

  14. When you realise that they are paid by commission then it all falls into place.
    I recently have had supply agencies:
    a. ring me when clearly looking at CV Library where they saw a PMLD post in a primary school- but they couldn't tell me what PMLD stands for
    b. tell me in writing that my not being on the GTC register at present is why my application was overlooked- which is odd as the role in question was for a Learning Mentor
    c. invite me to an interview for a post which had never existed, and they weren't all that bothered about apologising for that fact

    It also bears mentioning that theses fly-by-night scum are actively encouraging schools to get supply teachers on long term supply to sign new contracts, thus circumventing the EU requirement that they be paid properly there after. Yet again one wonders why the GTC and the normally garrulous unions have greeted such developments with a yawning silence? Because they couldn't care less about those trapped in the web of constant underemployment and unemployment!!!
  15. 4. They are economical with the truth. (I've had one school refuse to pay me for a booking because they asked for an X subject specialist, mine is Y and the agency lied to the school that they were sending a teacher with a specialism in X.)

    Soory to hear this, Nadie1. I wonder if the school told you this before or after you had done the days supply work.
  16. Well, I was under the impression it was a general cover, with two periods of subject X. The school's expectations only came to light when I got to X Department and spoke to the HoD. They were expecting a supply with specialism X for a trial day. But I completed my day's booking and heard nothing, until the agency phoned to say that the school weren't going to pay up.
    Other examples of this agency's dishonesty:
    - Advertising non-existent long-term posts to get people to register with them.
    - Claiming that schools have commissioned them to find a candidate for long-term and permanent posts, when really, they're sending your CV to schools, unsolicited, in response to the school's own advert.

  17. The treatment of you is outrageous, Nadie. I am prepered to bet, though, that the school paid the Agency its fee, nevertheless.
  18. Hoping2012

    Hoping2012 New commenter

    cliveceltic - which agencies are you with? i am looking to join agencies for daily work, going into different schools. what is the current rate?

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