Following concerns reported by Schools Week that recruitment agencies were fuelling the teacher shortage by “hoovering up” job seekers and then offering them to schools for thousands of pounds. Below, Darryl Mydat is Managing Director of TLTP Education (The London Teaching Pool) presents the case for the other side.

Comments reported from the recent Westminster Education Forum that “predatory” recruitment agencies are fuelling a teacher recruitment crisis by “hoovering up” job seekers to offer to struggling schools for tens of thousands of pounds, are disingenuous, misleading and unhelpful to teachers.

Nobody is forcing any teacher to sign up with any recruitment agency. That is their choice and most teachers – NQT and otherwise – in reality sign up with multiple agencies.

At university milk rounds, we have seen not only agencies in attendance but also proactive schools and authorities seeking to attract new teachers. It’s a free market.

Comments made about the size of recruitment agency fees are also misleading. There is a suggestion that agencies simply place a teacher and pocket a large fee.

This seems to intentionally ignore the fact that agencies are covering the cost of National Insurance, Holiday Pay and Public Liability Insurance of teachers on their books, as well as their own staff costs.

Fees charged do not simply go straight to the agency’s bottom line. Take, for example, the comment made about a school advertising “five times in 15 months for a geography teacher, but received little response”.

Agencies spend an enormous amount of money on ongoing advertising and digital marketing which probably explains why they can deliver candidates that schools struggle to reach for themselves.

Recruitment agencies provide an added value service. Good agencies can help schools by removing the need for them to commit time reviewing CVs or doing background checks on candidates, which removes the onus from the school to do a lot of the background work as well as marketing.

In the same way that candidates aren’t forced to use an agency, schools aren’t either. Recruitment agencies will continue to have an important role to play, not least in delivering illness cover and maternity cover as well as permanent and contract placements. But schools should do their homework when considering which agencies to work with.

Many of the problems, though, come down to schools’ relationships with the agencies with which they choose to work.

Not all agencies behave the same way. We would never charge upfront fees, for example. But this is why we always say that schools should work with agencies that are members of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) and which have REC accredited status.