How to choose a teaching agency

Teaching is one of the few careers in the UK which offers a degree of stability, but for those who want to find a new challenge, move up the pay scale or start working more flexibly than a permanent post allows, agencies can play an important role in their careers.

It is usually recommended that teachers who wish to work in supply roles sign up with two or three agencies in order to find work. Tempting though it may be to sign up with as many as possible in an attempt to increase the likelihood of finding work, it can become difficult to keep them all informed about availability and lead to a lot of confusion. It is always possible to switch agencies at a later date if there is one which appeals more. 

Specialisms   

Most teaching agencies will do their best to offer a variety of roles, but some will tend to have more roles for certain types of teachers. It is always worth checking the kinds of jobs that any agency has on offer before signing up, to ensure that the opportunities available match expectations.

Some teaching agencies specialise in supporting teachers coming from abroad, helping them to ensure that their qualifications are recognised, helping them to apply for visas and finding schools to sponsor them. Some agencies even offer advice on aspects of moving to the UK such as setting up bank accounts and making arrangements for accommodation for their clients.

Larger agencies which work with international teachers sometimes have offices or representatives who work in other countries to provide advice and support to teachers before they leave for the UK, which can be invaluable in reducing the length of time between arriving and starting work.

There are agencies which have teams dedicated to finding work for teachers with specific skills and experience. Some will focus on teachers who are qualified in teaching those with special needs, matching their skills and training with schools who are looking for their particular blend of experience.

Some agencies will have a lot of experience in placing newly qualified teachers, or NQTs, in their first posts, allowing them to gain the experience they need to make their first forays into teaching as successful as possible. Many agencies will have a dedicated area that they cover, providing teachers to schools on their ‘patch’ particularly in densely populated areas, and working closely with the local authorities to ensure that their staffing needs are met.

Teachers who have specific skills, experience or needs should consider using an agency which is able to provide a specialist service.

Recommendations

Personal recommendations can be useful for finding an agency which will be suitable for specific subject or sector specialisms, so teachers with a network of contacts who have similar experience or skills can often find that their colleagues are a good source of ideas.

It can also be helpful to ask schools themselves for the details of the agencies they use. Students who have completed a placement at a school that they would like to work at in the future can find out how they advertise their vacancies in order to maximise their chances of finding supply work there.

Location, location, location

Most supply teachers will need to be able to drive and have access to their own cars if they wish to be able to take up the opportunities offered to them. For most jobs, the offer will come on the morning that the teacher is needed, so it is important to be able to get to the school in question in a reasonable length of time. If you are teaching in London, living nearby a TFL (Transport For London) station can be a huge advantage.

Signing up with an agency which is a significant distance away can mean that the opportunities on offer are an impractical distance away. Even with a car, the time between getting the offer or work and the start time may only be half an hour or so, so it’s important to ensure that it is possible to actually take up any roles that come up.

Supply teachers often find it makes sense to get up, ready and dressed whenever they are available to work so that if they get a call, they can leave as soon as they put the phone down. This means that it is often most practical to sign up with the closest agencies in order to maximise the chances of finding a suitable job.

This may be obvious, but please note that just because a recruitment agency is based in London, it doesn’t mean that they only place teachers in London schools. Many recruitment agencies provide supply working opportunities all over the UK regardless of where their head office is situated.

Communication

Teachers who are looking for supply, short-term or fixed-term contracts will need to feel comfortable about their relationship with the agencies that they sign up to. Communication is an important part of that, so every interaction with an agency should reassure their clients that they are friendly, trustworthy and confident about their abilities to match their clients’ skills and expertise with roles that will appeal to them.

How to choose

Asking colleagues or other objective individuals about their experiences with agencies is a good way to get balanced advice. This can be especially helpful for anyone with a specialism that might be relatively niche and that can help to narrow down the field if the number of agencies available makes is hard to reach a decision.

In areas where there is a lot of competition between agencies, it can be hard to pick between a range of appealing options, so it’s always worth looking at any extras that the agencies offer. Some will provide free training for the teachers on their books, some will arrange meet-ups and social events to help teachers network with one another and some will offer tempting relocation packages to teachers who are prepared to move for the right roles.

Working out which aspects of an agency’s offerings is the most important can help with the decision-making process so it is important for each teacher to prioritise the things that are most important to them when researching and choosing an agency to work with.

Do your research online

Hit Google and see what the top searched ‘Recruitment companies for supply teachers’ are. Look at the Google reviews, Facebook comments and Twitter feeds for the agency you’re steered towards joining and assess their popularity. Whilst the assumption, the ‘most popular is the most reliable’ theory has flaws, this is certainly a good starting point. 

Why Orange Genie Education?

We employ and pay thousands of supply teachers and education support staff every year. Our employment portfolio stretches over 10 years in the umbrella industry making Orange Genie Education one of the most trusted umbrella brands. With this in mind, there’s no wonder we have long lasting relationships with hundreds of recruitment agencies all over the UK. Upon joining Orange Genie Education you become an employee of ours benefiting from:

Single employer for all assignments

  • One payment for all different agency assignments completed in a week
  • Simplified and efficient taxation from single tax code
  • Guaranteed pay for the work completed
  • Continuous employment rights
  • Maternity and Paternity pay
  • Sick pay
  • Access to a workplace pension
  • Statutory rights
  • Improved personal credit references and rating
  • Save over £700 with Orange Genie Rewards

Reassurance our supply teachers are employed by an FCSA member that protects and supports contractors. Our aspiration is to improve the lives and wellbeing of supply teachers and education support staff.

Get started HERE with OrangeGenie Education and get paid on time every time >>

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