The value of schools using supply agencies

A recent REC survey showed that 98 per cent of recruitment businesses typically receive less than two hours’ notice from a school in need of a teacher that same day. Chris Russell, REC policy advisor, explains how a specialist recruiter is an important resource when schools need to find staff quickly

The recruitment problems facing schools are well documented. Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) members that specialise in helping schools find the teachers they need should be seen as an invaluable asset in facing addressing recruitment challenges.
When a teacher phones in sick, schools have a duty to find cover as quickly as possible. A specialist recruiter is an important resource in this situation.
From a recent survey the REC carried out, ninety-eight per cent of recruitment businesses typically receive less than two hours’ notice from a school in need of a teacher that same day. The same survey found that over three-quarters (77 per cent) of agencies say finding teachers quickly is the main reason schools use them to fill temporary placements.
Recruitment businesses that find schools suitable cover at very short notice are a valuable asset. Without these pools of pre-vetted supply teachers, it would be very difficult for schools to provide pupils with a teacher to step in.
REC director of policy Tom Hadley commented: “Our members tell us that they are often under immense pressure to find high quality teachers at great speed. That is why schools rely on the vital role of recruitment agencies to bring in fully vetted, qualified teaching staff at short notice.
“When a teacher can’t be in the classroom for any reason, pupils can’t just be passed off to existing teachers or teaching assistants in the place of a fully qualified teacher– they need dedicated resource. We all understand the cost pressures on schools but these costs must be put in context and weighed against the cost of employing more permanent staff or having in house recruitment banks replicate the work of specialised agencies in sourcing, and placing suitably skilled substitute teachers”.
“Ensuring that the right calibre of teacher is in place isn’t something that can be compromised which is why majority of them use specialist agencies for advice and support.”

Candidates for permanent hires

For permanent hires, at a time of increasing staff shortages and limited budgets, supply agencies are well placed to find candidates for positions efficiently. The experience of REC members is that schools that do their own recruiting are increasingly finding it difficult to locate suitable candidates, even after spending large amounts of money on job advertisements.
Schools are under enormous pressure to find teachers with the right skills. Indeed, from our recent survey, two-thirds (66 per cent) of the recruitment agencies polled say the priority for schools coming to them for permanent hires is to find quality teachers with specific skills. From a school’s perspective, calling in the recruitment experts provides the professional expertise, saves on advertising, and they have a pre-vetted pool of candidates from which to choose.
All REC members comply with the REC’s Code of Professional Practice and pass a mandatory compliance test. Under this code, members are required to agree terms with schools. Agencies within REC membership must agree all fees with a school before any services are provided and must be transparent in all dealings with teachers and schools.
The REC also places enormous value on the rights of the candidates our members supply. Our members must check that candidates have consented to undertake a role before they are supplied to a school. REC members promote an Agency Workers Factsheet to supply teachers that outlines their rights and what they are entitled to after 12 weeks.
Former Education Secretary, Michael Gove was widely rebuked during the EU referendum for saying “people in this country have had enough of experts.” Schools should ignore his advice and discover the benefits of using recruitment experts.
A list of REC members that supply to schools can be found in our member directory, which is online here: