Supply teachers will be better off under a new recruitment model which promises to end the “inexcusable” charges demanded by agencies to schools and pay staff fairer rates.
The Supply Register, which is backed by the NASUWT, is getting a better deal for supply teachers and schools but charging substantially less than profiteering agencies, who have benefited enormously under the fragmentation of the schools system, particularly in England.
Baljinder Kuller, who heads up this new organisation, started in 2016, believes he has a workable model which will save schools money and provide a more ethical employment for supply teachers, who are often exploited by agencies which wield enormous power over staff and schools. Last year schools in England and Wales spent £1.2 billion on this growing area of education.
He has spent most of his career since 2005 working for local authorities and recruitment agencies almost exclusively with supply teachers and education support staff.
He said: “I had seen that the appetite for a suitable alternative to what was already out there was continuing to swell.
“Supply Teachers deserve to be paid fairly for the work they do. In other industries workers can often be paid a premium for freelance work whereas historically supply agencies undercut supply teachers for the vital work they do
“Given the current changing education landscape it’s important that schools that rely on temporary supply cover are getting best value, especially when schools are often under budgetary pressures.
“The Supply Register model lends itself to paying teachers more fairly while ensuring schools can make savingsand the ethical supply agencies that do work with us can still hit their business targets or plans.”
The format is straightforward – while agencies charge schools around £50 a day on top of what the school pays the teacher in National Insurance and salary – the Supply Register charges £12 a day. This means the typical saving can be split equally between the school and the teacher.
And while agencies typically pay 70% of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) earnings on the Main Scale the Supply Register pays 90% of FTE. It also classes a long-term placement as more than two weeks rather than 12 weeks, meaning a teacher will move onto their full-time rate more quickly.
“If you are going to be in a school for two weeks or longer you are going to be in effect going to be doing the planning, the preparation, the marking. So you should be getting paid for that,” he said.
The Supply Register is using technology to better match up schools looking for staff with teachers looking for work.
The school can log into the Supply Register portal and see staff in their area and teachers will receive notifications to their computers or phones via an app. But the traditional route to work – telephone contact – will still be used as well. It will help NASUWT members who are supply teachers get access to jobs and get more money than they can often get at the moment.
Baljinder added: “What we are trying to do is get every single school to want to work with us at no cost to them knowing they can go on the platform whenever they want to request someone in their area. It opens up more opportunities to supply teachers because we have the platform delivering the opportunities to them directly.
“Most schools work with about three or four agencies. Most agencies work with about 20 or 30 schools. That only presents you with 20 or 30 opportunities. In Stoke and the local area alone there are 200 schools. If we have all 200 schools with us there are more opportunities for you as a teacher.”
And while some NASUWT members have said they haven’t been able to see any jobs in their local area advertised Baljinder stressed if they contact The Supply Register and give the names of the five schools they would most like to work with, his organisation will contact the schools and match them up.
He said the NASUWT and his organisation have similar values and he clearly feels passionately about wanting to get a fairer deal for schools and teachers and end what he calls the “get rich quick” philosophy of many supply agencies.
“From very early on it became very apparent that the values of the NASUWT mirrored those of the Supply Register and what we set out to achieve when were formed.
“By bringing us together I feel we can deliver the best deal for union members and the schools that engage with us.”