Working as a supply teacher is a path that has been successfully navigated for many years, and since the reduction and limitation of the Local Authority supply list more and more supply teachers work via Teaching Recruitment Agencies.
Here is a simple guide on what to look out for when choosing your teaching agency:
Trust your gut!
If you begin researching and communicating with a teaching recruitment agency, the chances are you will be flooded with information. It’s not until you actually start speaking to a human that you will find out the quality of the business. Like in all industries, there are some great teaching agencies in the sector but there are also a few that let the sector down. This can also be found within the same business but in different regions. Don’t stand for the poor, simply move on to the next teacher recruitment agency.
Do they listen to you?
When you go through your registration interview you will no doubt set out the guidelines of what you are looking for. Are you being consulted with or dictated to? If it’s the latter then you may want to consider what you will be doing moving forward. The number of times you hear of a Primary Key Stage 1 teacher being asked to cover Year 6 when they have told the agency they are not looking nor willing to do this age is very common. Yet at times the supply teacher will feel like they are letting the agency down! Ensure you feel comfortable, don’t be forced into any work you are not trained or feel suitable for.
That being said, if you only want to work on the second Tuesday of every month in a school 3miles away from your home, you have to understand the limitations you place on any teaching recruitment agencies to provide you with work. Set realistic boundaries you are happy to work with, consider travel time to school, calls in the morning for last-minute work, types of school you want to work in, schools you don’t want to work in, specialism that means you can perform at your best. All play a key part in your experience as a supply teacher, be flexible but have clear concise boundaries.
The hot topic in any supply teacher network is how much are you getting paid? When the government allowed Cover Supervisors into the classroom in 2006 it opened the door for schools to say we are not paying for a supply teacher for one day. Unfortunately, this has grown to some schools (not all) setting a pay limit when they require supply teachers. In an ideal world, schools would have unlimited budgets, teachers would get paid to scale and everyone would be happy. This is not the case. You have to navigate this on a case-by-case basis. Stick to what you feel you are worth. If you want to be paid to scale, here are the current pay spines per region, divide this by 195 (there are 195 teaching days per year) and this will give you your “daily supply teacher rate”. Some agencies will ask you how much you are willing to work for? As they will probably work with schools not willing to pay more than a set figure. Think wisely about this, you do not want to under-sell yourself, but neither do you want to price yourself out of the market.
TEACHING RECRUITMENT AGENCY PAY HACK
If you are not paid to scale, after a long term placement or a duration of positive work, ask the agency to increase your daily rate, if the feedback is good and schools are happy to have you back in to cover you will find you will be able to command a higher daily pay rate.
How you are paid
There is no more umbrella pay. IR35 has ended most if not all benefits within the supply teacher self-employment classification. Therefore you will have 2 options, PAYE or PAYE via a payroll provider. The main difference is the PAYE via a payroll provider will normally set you up as a Limited Company and then you will be liable for not only the Employees National Insurance but also the Employers National Insurance (along with their fee for processing the payroll). Make sure you ask the agency how you are going to get paid. Some will operate both and not tell you until you have been paid, then you have the issue of correcting this.
When you have been into a school and completed an assignment, ensure you keep your own feedback and look out for the agency feedback also. You need to know from the outset that the school is happy with your performance. No news is normally good news, however, if you are able to get feedback whether this is from the school directly or from the agency it will further add to your employment history. If you decide in the future to return to permanent work or are trying to obtain a permanent job then you need to build up your references and feedback.
Does your Teaching Recruitment Agency support you?
Are you getting that personal touch? Do you feel supported? Yes? Fantastic, If not feedback. Make sure you are getting all the help and guidance you desire. One of the biggest ways your teacher agency can help you is by simply being there. Listening to your needs, experiences, and feedback. If you can never get hold of anyone to talk to then you may well just be a number in the database.
If you are not happy … move forward.
There may come a time when you feel you cannot work with an agent, there are many to choose from in the current climate. Simply investigate, do your due-diligence and register with an alterantive. You will often find most supply teachers are registered with at least two teaching recruitment agencies.
If you are looking to register with a teaching recruitment agency and would like to have a conversation book in for a career call here. We would be happy to help you.