For both daily and long term work:
Ring a few local schools – they should be objective! – ask which agencies they use – if they give the same agency – than contact that agency – although that could just mean they are cheap!! So ask the school whether thats the reason they use them – they should be honest – they have no reason not to be. Cheap agencies – will generally either be small and hungry – keen to get into the market OR just plain mean.
Then join any few of these agencies – get out working – you can’t make and omlette etc! Talk to other agency staff within schools – especially ones who have been doing it for a while – what do they see as the good and bad points of a few agencies?
Often agencies with the most work will have the lowest rates – because they are the cheapest they get given lots of work! No surprise there.
The best arrangement for daily teachers who really do not mind what they teach – is the find a new, young agency who have clients – but are struggling for teachers. They will have small expenses, but will be exceptionally grateful of a new talented teacher to send out to their small client list. If you can deliver – then this is for you. New agencies will typically be advertising in google adwords – not on the natural search first page – again a more mature supply teacher will tell you who they are.
Be effective :
Ontime, dressed smartly, teaching actively, be seen to keep a couple of students behind – unless the miracle occured and there was zero disruption. As well as looking good to managament – who will positive – feedback to the agency – it means that if you return to the school you will get better treament from the students than you otherwise would have!
Try and assess the feel of the school:
Some schools will like you to seek management support the moment something goes wrong. Others will resent constant requests for management support and will think that you are not “hacking it” – which kind is it? What is acceptable and what is not? Can you see yourself enjoying that particular environment for a while – remember you can go anywhere – you are a supply teacher!!
One agency is rarely enough (for long term work)!
For daily work – one busy agency could be enough. When you wish to settle however – you want to cast your net far and wide – and you really want at least three agencies to contrast and compare……..and to play off against each other. The better your feedback and experience – the more they will bend to your will on rates remember that! There is also a hierarchy of “in need” subjects. Maths always tops the ladder! Science is usually next and each year there is a wild card , sometimes RE, sometimes Art and sometimes Geography – totally unpredictable and often as a result of government lead changes in curriculum content.
Always say you have other options – always mention in passing that another avenue is available to you. Use the subtlist comment to indicate you have other options. You don’t need to stand on the roof shouting about it – just one comment is all that’s needed. Agents ears are so sensitive! If you disappear – so has his placement! After you have a done a trial lesson you will also know how many others are going for the role / what kind of chance you have. Depending on this – you can fix your rate expectations.
Over and out for now and good luck for your agency hunt!