Making the most of your education recruitment consultant

Working with your teaching agency – By Sharon Wood

In this article, we will look at how to make the most of your relationship with your supply teacher recruitment agency.

Supply teaching agencies are now the primary channel for most supply teachers to gain work through. The rise in their presence and usage over the last ten years has been dramatic.

Working with your teaching agency, dotting the 'i's and crossing the 't's together.Be clear about what you want from your consultant, your experience, and your intentions.

From your very first communications with them, through an email submission form on their website, or perhaps a phone call, the consultants will be forming an opinion of you. A good education recruitment consultant will want to get to know their candidates professionally as well as they can, so as to match you to schools more successfully. Be professional, be polite, be amiable, be open to suggestion and flexible. Be honest about your requirements, your availability and your ability to travel distances.

An agency many have many hundreds of staff on their register. Don’t let yourself slip under the radar. Keep them up to date with what you are doing, that you are available to work next week, that you particularly enjoyed working in School X, and now that you have had a taster of Year 3, you would like to perhaps try a Year 2 class to broaden your experiences and opportunities.

Ask what the recruitment agency operating hours are, and find out when is the best time to call for chats about upcoming work and to get feedback on completed assignments. Your consultant will often work longer hours than you do, and be contracted to work through the holidays too. They often have experience of teaching themselves and may deliver CPD courses accordingly. Be respectful and accept that you may be able to learn a lot from them, they are not simply a middle-man with a stereotypical call centre mentality as they are all too often portrayed.

Take every opportunity offered to you by your agency. Most will offer CPD courses. Some will recommend websites to visit, and other resources. Many now are active on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook – join them and meet other supply teachers there. Supply teaching can be an isolating career move, and most agencies recognise this and offer meets such as quiz nights and end of term drinks. Check that your potential agency supports National Supply Teacher Week in June each year too, the aims of which can be found here at The Supply Teacher e-zine:

Be open to suggestion and criticism. For example, as supply for secondary school supply teachers outstrips demand, it may be suggested that in order to gain more work, a secondary teacher makes the transition to primary. Unfortunately, consultants are sometimes called upon by schools to, or out of necessity need to broach a difficult subject with candidates. Less than positive feedback may have been received from a school and it is in your interests as well as your consultants, to address the issue. Common examples are inappropriate conversations with students, poor personal hygiene, lack of curriculum knowledge, poor marking, poor behaviour management and use of mobile phones in school time.

Remember, it is in your consultant’s interests to keep you happily employed, as it is in your interests to maintain a good working relationship with your consultant. Good supply teachers are harder to recruit and retain than you would expect, so the recruiter will work hard to place and retain you. Having said that, while you are on an assignment with them, you are representing their company, and their quality of staffing supply, and they will not want to send you on assignment if they do not trust that you will represent them adequately.

Where next? There’s a great quick read here on marking work. Check out our resources area here too.

5 thoughts on “Making the most of your education recruitment consultant

  1. Pingback: How to get more supply teaching work - my top tips | SupplybagSupplybag

  2. Sharon Wood Post author

    Thanks for your comments Claire! I think the ‘bad rep’ that agencies had started over a decade ago, when many were reaping the money in for little work! It’s a different ball game now with such responsibility for safeguarding and much more competition for candidates!

  3. Claire Vision For Education

    This is fantastic, and totally true…..I think agencies have been put under a bad light for some reason. We work so hard to find the teachers and put them into the right schools….I definitely do anyway. I work all the hours god sends, and pride myself on doing a good job for the teacher and for the school. Thank you Sharon…brilliantly written.

  4. Sharon Wood Post author

    Thank you for your comments! One of my most used phrases is “Have you told your consultant?” and invariably the supply teachers who email me haven’t!

  5. STS Brighton

    Great article, I read this through the eyes of both a teacher and a recruitment consultant and found lots of helpful advice within. It is indeed, all about building good relationships and communication.

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