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Supply teaching- what kind of agency do you want?

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by cantonbean, Jul 13, 2015.

  1. cantonbean

    cantonbean New commenter

    I have given up on decent treatment by the big ones- (umbrella companies- used as cover teacher- low rates of pay for GCSE teaching etc.) Overpromised, undelivered and worst of all being asked by a 23 year old SALES person stupid questions at my interview- after 30 year experience and also up to Deputy Head.

    Think of setting up a FAIR and ethical agency- that pays teachers properly and charges schools a fair rate.

    What would make you work for us! What should agencies be paying teachers ( midlands region) and what would make you want to work for me! So disgusted by what is out there at present.

    I do think that if teachers set up together we would do a better job for everyone concerned- who agrees?
    Readingqueen and chouxbunsmum like this.
  2. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    Why do we need agencies at all? To be honest Cantonbean, I wouldn't want to set up in competition to the agencies using the same operations model. They are bigger, stronger, better funded and sharper.

    There is a completely alternative way that is already up and running.

    Did you know that it's only in England and Wales that agencies operate?

    In Northern Ireland there is a central register for the whole province. The operation is computerised. There is no competition, no undercutting of fees, no agents, no publicity stunts, no commission, no umbrella companies, no multiple DBS checks, no haggling and all that.

    Teachers are registered once. They are paid to scale, teachers have access to the Teacher' Pension Fund and it works.

    It's very simple. All schools have decided to subscribe to the system. They pay a one-off licence fee to the company that provides the software and they can access the database. They do not actually see the lists, so data is secure. They can log on any time and enter the search criteria - location, subject, age group, date. This activates a text to the available teachers who satisfy the criteria. They text back, accept or decline. This activates a message back to the school. Job done. Teacher is given location of school and nature of placement and is expected to turn up at 8.30. School is debited, teacher is credited. Payroll goes through the LEA at no cost to the users.

    It already exists and is operational in the UK.

    Write to your local councillors, write to your MP.
  3. It sounds Cantonbean like your experience of private agencies has not been positive but they are not always the bad guy. I work for a small family run agency in North London and we deal with schools that will NOT pay more than £160 per day for an experienced qualified teacher - we have to make a profit to enable us to pay our staff and rent so the pay that the teacher ends up is below what they are possibly worth.

    I wouldn't, however, criticise the SALES person..it's his job to ask those questions so that he can SELL you to the schools he speaks to.
  4. cantonbean

    cantonbean New commenter

    Thanks for your responses so far. All good to help make the picture. Very interesting about NI- that is the way it USED to be in UK.

    To BenP

    I am sorry that you have to sell teachers so cheaply- I totally realise that you need to make a profit. You do deserve it for the work you do. Are you underselling yourself and your teachers?I bet you are better than the big ones.

    Questions such as " how would you deal with a child in a class that was misbehaving?"- My reply- " how long is a piece of string!!! - This is a not a qualified teacher asking the question. On the CV were 3 outstanding teacher from OFSTED ( in the day when we had individual ratings) and outstanding references. How would that person even know how to judge the answer?

    I do understand your point - and maybe in some cases it is appropriate. B.Sc, PGCE Science, M.Ed Science education + record of outstanding GCSE results- All sciences up to GCSE. 27 years experience. + other stuff - which I will not bother with details.

    Maybe where you are things are different, but I find the agencies have to sell the school to me- not the other way around! Most of the work I turn down. I know one agency that is currently selling me for £650- £700 a day for one day intensive revision courses I have done over 30 days for them. They pay £200- £250 a day to me. ( oh by the way I am an examiner for two boards as well)

    Private tuition rate is £40 and hour ( not in London) and I get booked up near exam time. I did two weeks on £80 a day as a cover teacher ( local school) - I was doing exactly the same job as a supply teacher- the school took no more responsibility for setting work or dealing with problems.

    Please justify to me why you think a 23 year old sales person can interview me?

    Still interested in other views-

    Would only be looking at taking top staff- would not want to pay less than £120 a day.

    What are people getting now?
  5. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    If you are an agency you are bound by law (Conduct of Employment Agencies Act) and Agency Workers regulations to pay to scale after certain criteria have been met unless you get your teachers to sign a Swedish Derogation clause which many agencies do. Otherwise you can do what you like, charge what you like, pay what you like. There is no regulation of supply teaching agencies. No wonder there is so much bad practice.

    There is no need for agencies at all.

    They simply overcharge schools and take money out of the education system. This has become a serious income stream for private companies who are not recognised by the Dfee as educators. They are classed as businesses and not subject to any controls by the Dfee. What are they doing in schools?

    We need one official register of available supply teachers, administered in one office like they have in Northern Ireland. Many have tried and failed to set up alternative agencies and been hammered by the corporate giants. What has that got to do with education standards? Nothing.

    If there were an official register of qualified supply teachers similar to the NI system, it would be transparent and accountable. But agencies are not publicly accountable; there is no official body that monitors their practice. The handful of people on this forum who are not being exploited by their agencies seem to be a minority. Those who are prepared to put up with poor practice are encouraging even worse. As we know from the classroom, being tolerant of poor behaviour is the road to ruin.

    The unions are lobbying parliament to look into this issue. Why are schools being forced to pay massively over the odds to a system that has been artificially imposed on them.

    If you feel that this situation is running out of control, it is your duty to yourself and your colleagues to write to your MP about the anarchy that is the supply sector.
  6. michaeltalbot

    michaeltalbot New commenter

    Unfortunately alot of the people with negative opinions on agencies have had bad experiences and feel the need to vent. The people that are usually happy and content with how their agency work don't feel the need to share the good stories of their experiences. You cannot please everyone all of the time with the system that is used. Some 'rogue' agencies will take advantage of people, yet the system NEARMISS mentions has potential to work, but also the volume of schools and teachers in England would make it a logistical nightmare to control. NI do not have a) the number of schools or b) making it easier to put into practice.My suggestion to anyone working for a reliable teaching agency is ask: 1) are they an REC audited agency? and 2) do the agency hold the Gold standard award? There are some good ones out there.
  7. bonnie1

    bonnie1 Senior commenter

    I have just been working very hard so that the agency could take £1000 a month off my pay. Actually, the school was paying that. I felt exploited and that would have paid for another TA that the school badly needed. There has to be a better way!
  8. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    That being said, Michaeltalbot, there are agencies who have REC audited status who pay nowhere near the spine point pay scale to their day to day teachers which the NI model does. The criteria for gaining REC audited status are on their website. They have to comply with Conduct of Employment Agencies legislation, they have to DBS check all candidates and they have to abide by AWR, but they are completely at liberty to put their candidates on Swedish Derogation contracts whereby the candidates waive their rights to AWR.

    The REC is a trade organisation for agencies to opt in. They are not a statutory body and the Quality Mark has not been recognised by the Government for years. They are not the only governing body as the regulation market has been deregulated so anyone can now set themselves up as an industry regulator.

    It's anarchy.

    One publicly accountable body would be the ideal. This current situation is completely out of control and getting worse.

    I may come across as a malcontent. It is with good reason. Actually I have managed to get my agency to comply with all statutory requirements and I am paid the full spine pay rate. Others working for the same branch of the same firm do not. By being complacent, those supply teachers who put up with it are setting a dangerous precedent for everyone in teaching. It stands to reason that the number of teachers dropping out is in part because of worsening pay and conditions.
  9. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Star commenter

    As I have studied for 4 years and have a 1st class teaching degree and have 20+ years or continuous, full-time primary school teaching experience in England. Doing supply teaching, , I would expect to earn enough through the academic year, to enable me to survive through the holidays too. £95 a day, even working nearly every single day of the school teaching year, will not allow a person to do this, unless they have an alternative source of income, or a partner with a well-paid job. The agencies in the south-west of England are charging £180 + per day, but paying less than £100 per day - certainly for short term, day to day supply work in primary schools. Supply agencies should be outlawed and a return to the old system of LEA supply lists reinstated. Supply Agencies are not used anywhere else in the world, other than England and Wales. This is a reflection of how our country views education and school teachers. What a sorry state of affairs.
  10. cantonbean

    cantonbean New commenter

    Thanks for views- So in fact rather than setting up an ethical agency - we should be campaigning for change. It drives me crazy to think how much schools are paying the agency each day and yet there is not enough equipment at times to deliver the curriculum. A very valid point- if no agency fees they could hire a teacher and a TA for the same price and really make a difference.

    I do remember the old days when LEAS did the job. It was quite simple. Point on your pay scale, annual salary divided into working days only. I earnt on supply exactly the same as when working full time. I did two years when I only did not work for 2 days one year and 3 days the other. The LEAs knew their teachers and sent them where required. There was NO COMPETITION to knock down the price. It did not matter to the school what pay scale point you were on - as they did not pay it! THOSE WERE THE DAYS - I have been top of scale for years. Also ordinary class teachers were paid centrally from the LEA so the school always appointed the best candidate ( not the cheapest) and they preferred experience.

    Will abandon idea of agency (unless I make it totally non- profit making) and just take out admin charge for myself maybe.

    I will get campaigning! Maybe we should start a lobby group on this site?
  11. neli

    neli Occasional commenter

  12. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    The figures speak for themselves. Surveys conducted here in this forum also by the NUT and the NASUWT all come up with a very similar picture. The majority of teachers working for agencies are being paid considerably less than their directly employed colleagues.

    The legal principle of equal pay for work of equal value, is not applied here.
  13. Fraccy

    Fraccy New commenter

    @nearmiss: We're working on a near-identical system! I'd love to say: 'coming soon!', but since this topic's come up, now is a good time to mention it. Our system will do away with agencies entirely, and return control to teachers.

    @michaeltalbot: It might sound like a logistical nightmare, but that's something we've solved quite neatly.

    I've been in teaching for over 20 years, including now working supply. Ideas about 'supply pools' have come up several times previously in this forum, but no one's executed anything meaningful. We're hoping to change that. If everything goes OK, expect some upheavals to the whole agency-teacher ecosystem...
  14. cantonbean

    cantonbean New commenter

    Brilliant info both of you go for it! Will sign petition. Can you direct me to where to join the "new way".

    best wishes.
  15. Fraccy

    Fraccy New commenter

    It's an ongoing project, and we have to abide by forum rules: no references to schools, individuals or organisations... If anyone's interested, perhaps a private message would be best?
  16. sockknittingtubes

    sockknittingtubes New commenter

    trouble is as teachers we just seem to accept the status quo. we bow down to the techniques of agencies and the awful realisation as Supply teachers we will not be taken on full time by schools because of the introduction fee agencies charge.It is time to fight back and Cantonbean's idea is not a bad idea at least retaliates the agencies and might make them change their ways
  17. Fraccy

    Fraccy New commenter

    There's no point in trying to force agencies to change; this is their 'modus operandi'. Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to sidestep it... We're working to create an alternative, with the hope that it'll extinguish agencies altogether.
    haines1955 likes this.
  18. podilato

    podilato New commenter

    To answer the original question, the kind of agency I would like is one that didn't exist. New South Wales in Australia has a similar system. I worked there a few years ago and everyone is on one central database and you were contacted by automated phone call. You just pressed a key to accept or decline. It also worked out of hours so you sometimes got a call the night before so you knew where you were the next day. Much simpler and, presumably, much cheaper. But why do something logical?
  19. emmalcm1

    emmalcm1 Established commenter

    Well the kind of agency I'd like is one who would treat people with a bit of common decency. I am continuously appalled at the way agencies try to treat us. Just this week I had to have words with one in particular who seemed to think I would work for an absolute pittance (and by that, I mean I would probably earn just as much stacking shelves).

    I hate the fact that agencies try to charge schools a finders fee if they take you on-surely it's got to be the only reason why schools don't offer more temp contracts rather than keep spending money on supply longer term. I did almost a full year teaching in one school being paid through an agency and I worked out that it would have been substantially cheaper for the school to just offer me a temp contract rather than paying what the agency were charging them. I would have been much better off as well!
  20. haines1955

    haines1955 New commenter

    My agency is efficient and my consultant very good but I resent paying a weekly fee to an umbrella company and paying my own employer's national insurance. I would much prefer to work directly for a school even if it was at a negotiated "supply rate". Agencies have a place in providing emergency last minute cover but schools should be liaising directly with teachers for the majority of supply cover. The fact that agencies are taking over is a waste of the education budget.

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