“Nobody is forcing any teacher to sign up with a recruitment agency”

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.

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  1. I happen to know Darryl Mydat and TLTP, as well as a huge proportion of the other agencies in the teacher supply sector, because I’ve serviced many of them over a protracted period. Of course his is one of the better-run enterprises and that is borne out by the fact that it held the Quality Mark when that existed and now classed as an ‘REC education audited holder’ (which is a tougher test).

    What I can say objectively is that he’s right. Agencies certainly shouldn’t all be tarred with the same brush. Many of his rivals don’t survive long simply because (whatever the perceptions others might have) it’s labour-intensive, requires very careful cash-management because teachers have to be paid long before the schools shell out, and competitive.

    Despite this TLTP has bucked a trend (growing in tight times when every employer wants good value; I believe there was an article in ‘The Times’ about TLTP a couple of years back). He’s achieved that because he’s attracted great staff (teachers and sales consultants). Yet he has to reward them adequately and ensure that those sales consultants have a pleasant working-environment. He’s also spent a lot of time and cash on exhibitions and the like. All of this bangs a big hole in whatever income he has from fees. And, given all of the responsibilities he shoulders (not least from overseeing the screening of countless teachers and support staff before they have access to kids so that he has no mistakes that come back to bite him), I reckon he more than earns any profit.

    In short I can absolutely understand his exasperation at what the Westminster Education Forum has had to say. There are, of course, some agencies that are greedy and, more worryingly, do not properly screen teachers. Until the industry is regulated that will happen. But, for the moment, companies like TLTP which are well-run plug a huge gap left because many trained teachers don’t want to teach (now we’re out of recession and there are alternatives) whilst those who do are under great stress so they are often absent through illness.

  2. Clyde Smith

    Teaching abroad is an experience that you will never forget. Be extremely careful in choosing a school, country and recruitment agency. I had a horrible experience with Edvectus. Most recruitment agencies are not worth the bother of filling out their applications. Deal directly with the school.

    • Heidi Kirby

      Sorry Clyde but I had a great experience with Edvectus – they gave me advice and helped sort out my CV – their consultants are all international teachers. The problem with dealing directly with the school is that you can’t always find out information about the school beyond the website. Edvectus had video visit reports so I could see what I was getting before my CV was sent off.

  3. Anonymous

    Agencies do charge high fees. A school could pay the agency 200 per day, of which only 100 goes to the teacher. Also, if a school wishes to turn the supplied teacher into a permanent member the agency demands an extortionate commission.

    True, agencies take investment to setup. However, once established they milk the system… the gravy train…

    Former Partner at an established Agency.

  4. I have found several great Teaching positions, which began as a Supply Teaching. I have worked part time, an option that is not usually available in mainstream schools. I have only ever had one bad experience of a controlling recruitment advisor, who emotionally forced me to attend an interview that I was not interested in or wanted a part time teacher, a waste of time for all concerned. Only one supply pool paid me the ups, that I was entitled to.Overal, my experience has been good, I have been placed in suitable schools, which have mainly moved on to permanent contacted positions.