Choosing the right supply agency for you is really important. A good relationship with your agency should help you find work in a non-stressful way. It should offer solutions that work for you, in the right area for you. Before you apply to a supply agency, have a ring around a few local ones and see how you feel once you have spoken to them. It is also useful to check who local schools use, so that you can contact agencies who are definitely operating in your area. Unfortunately, some agencies will say they cover your area when they don’t, so this is definitely something to check. Apple A Day do not do this as it simply wastes everyone’s time!
But if you haven’t worked for an agency before it can be difficult to know what to ask and what to look out for. Below are some top tips from someone who has worked as a supply teacher, a permanent teacher and for a supply agency.
Call them before applying
Speak to a recruiter in the supply agency and find out a bit more about them. See if you feel comfortable talking to them and find them helpful and friendly. Ask some of the following questions:
- What locations do you regularly cover?
- What type of settings do you work with? (nursery, primary, secondary, private, SEN)
- What is the demand like for (insert what you are looking for)?
- What do you pay for (insert role you would do)? Remember to ask about long-term and perm– do they do this and if so, when would they pay to scale?
- How do you update them regarding your availability?
- Do they use paper timesheets or digital?
- Will they pay you via PAYE or an umbrella company? This question is really important. Read our article on Umbrella companies here
Other things to consider:
- Do you want an agency that can offer you work via an app so that you can easily accept during the day without having to try to get signal for phone calls?
- Do you want to mainly work with experienced school staff who understand the sector from first-hand experience or does that not matter to you?
- Do you feel that they can fulfil your needs?
- Are they open and honest with you regarding your queries? Do you feel that you can be honest with them?
- Do they have a trained DSL within the company. Apple A Day have two who can support should you ever be involved in a Safeguarding case.
Things to note:
- Reputable agencies will legally require an application form for any contract or adhoc placements where you will be employed by them. This forms part of Safer Recruitment in Education- see our blog on this here
- Agencies should interview you rather than just register you. If they do this, you know they are not taking on everyone and as such, should have a reputation for providing quality staff.
Go with your gut instinct and remember, if unsure, you can always sign up with two and then leave one if you have an agency that suits your needs.