10 Important Questions to ask your UK Teaching Agency!

1. What % of my daily rate will you take supply work?

Every agency will take a cut of your day to day pay when you work as a supply teacher. Ask your agency on average how much they are charging a school for you to be there? And how much of that will you receive? Ensure that your pay does not drop because the school is paying the agency less. Why should that affect your pay when you are doing the same amount of work?

2. How much will it cost a school to move me from casual to permanent employment?

To receive holiday pay and be paid directly, you must be a permanent member of staff. Once you have started working for a school on a short-term or termly contract it will cost the school to transfer you to their books. How much will the school need to pay to transfer me to a permanent position? Sometimes this is not a realistic amount so the school can not afford to put you on permanent and you miss out on your holiday pay and sick leave.

3. How will I pay my bills during the holidays and afford to travel?

While working supply or short-term contracts you will not get paid holidays or for sick leave. It is a very stressful time knowing that you are not going to be paid for weeks on end or needing to travel an hour to get to a job when you have the flu because you can’t afford to take a day off. What options do they have in place to support you during this time? What are the chances of you getting work in the week before the school holidays and the first week of school? This can cause a two week holiday to become a four week holiday for you. This adds up to 28 weeks of solid work and 12 weeks holidays and 12 weeks not guaranteed work. As most of us go overseas to travel this can put a huge dampener on travel plans.

4. Who is my consultant in the UK? Will that stay the same?

What accountability is there to consultants to support me to find a job? Or to help me find the job that suits me? Who will I turn to when I arrive in the UK or need advice about a school or contract? What stops them from just palming me off onto someone else? Will I directly be able to contact someone when I need support?

5. Have you ever taught in the UK? How many years?

A lot of agents have never been into a classroom, so do not have a realistic understanding of what it is like to walk into a classroom with high behavioural difficulties. They do not have an understanding of how disheartening this can be. Recruitment consultants who have experience teaching in the UK are more supportive and understanding so will not put you in a school that they wouldn’t work in.

6. What is the average travel time per day?

When you are called on a morning where will the school be? How many modes of transport or transfers do they consider acceptable? Will it be the same agent you speak with every time? Ideally, they already know you and have a general idea of the best way for you to travel.

7. What is the average rating of schools that you work with?

Ask your agency what OSFTED is. Your agency should be able to provide this for you every morning, so you have a realistic understanding of what the school is actually like. Ask why the teacher is away? How many days has this teacher been away?

8. What happens when I turn down a school?

A lot of people will say the great thing about supply work is that it gives you the freedom to choose when you work. If you are on a guaranteed supply contract (GPS) you are not allowed to turn down work. So if you have been to the school before and had a horrible experience, you would, unfortunately, have to go back.

9. Why do supply first?

You will find that you are encouraged to try supply before you go into a full-time or permanent contract. Ask your agency about permanent positions and see if they are able to provide any real options.

10. How do you ensure that I am able to secure a job that will best suit me?

It is easy to feel lost in the system of an agency. The old adage; to fit a square peg in a round hole, can suit quite well. We are all looking for something different from our time in the UK, so it is important that we are able to have the freedom to do this. Find an agency that will support you in finding the location and job that suits you.

Do they offer personalised support and help including; profiles, interview preparation, discussions on location and your personal preference, do you feel confident sending an email or message and getting a quick and personal response?

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