It is important for your career and from a school's point of view, that you are taking part in CPD (Continual Professional Development). Does your supply agency offer CPD? How often? Do you have to pay for this? For information about our training opportunities click here.
Care and Support
This depends on what you are looking for from an agency. If the person who you have contact with at the agency seems to understand education, the demands on a supply teacher, and how to support you, then this will make your job much easier and enjoyable. As a teacher you know that you can't fully understand teaching unless you have been one. Whilst not all members of staff at an agency are former teachers, they need to understand your role, how schools work, and how to support you to allow you to achieve your best. We have teachers within our team who are happy to offer help and advice.
Go with your instinct. If you like the people that you met with, have heard good things about the agency and think that they seem great to work for, give it a go. You can sign with more than one agency, especially if looking for work every day. I wouldn't recommend registering with more than 2 as keeping them informed of your changing availability may be difficult. You may find one who you prefer and decide to stop working for the other.
It is important as an NQT that you feel that your agency understands your experiences and what you are looking for. Your NQT year is the biggest learning curve (and you thought you learnt a lot in your PGCE year!). Will your agency help from time to time to plan lessons? Can they support you with securing your first position should a job in one of their schools come up? Is there the opportunity to meet other supply teachers in their team? For information how we support our NQTS click here.
Make sure that the agency work with schools in your area. It sounds silly, but agencies may advertise that they offer work in an area and yet are not actually working with schools there. Agency staff will usually be very honest about this as it is in their interest to work with teachers who are close to the schools that they work with. If you want to check that our agency has schools in your area, please ring and talk with one or team; we will always be honest.
This is crucial if you are doing supply work whilst looking for a more permanent position. A 'Finder's Fee' or 'Introductory Fee' is when an agency charge a school if you have worked for the agency at a school and then gain a position there. A high fee will disadvantage you in two ways:
1. Many schools are working with alternative supply agencies because of this and you may, as a result, not be offered much work through your agency.
2. If you are looking for a permanent position, but come with a large fee attached, you are at a considerable disadvantage as other candidates may be good teachers and not come with a fee. Therefore, if choosing between two good teachers, a school are likely to go with the cheaper option.
Last but by no means least, pay! Pay will vary depending on the agency and the area (as does teachers’ pay). If you do supply work directly through your council you will get paid a lot more as all of the money charged to schools goes directly to you. However, an agency can match you to suitable positions, often provide more work and provide good links with schools. It is worth remembering that half a day isn't really half a day by the time you have got to school, taught, marked the work and got home. I would suggest that anything over £50 for half a day is reasonable and would make it worth accepting. For a full day, agencies pay from £80 + (depending on area). For information about how we pay our teachers click here.