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The Negative Effects of Using Recruitment Agencies on Supply Teachers’ Pensions and the Quality of Teaching in Schools


The teacher shortage has ensured that many schools have had to rely on expensive agencies to find supply staff. The Guardian stated that in 2015, spending by academies and free schools on agencies rose by 42%; meanwhile statistics from the National Union of Teachers (NUT), report that £733million was paid to supply teacher agencies in 2014. These figures equate to tens of thousands being spent on supply teachers, per year, per institution; however spending is not the only drawback of this heavy reliance on agencies.

No matter the quality of staff that is being produced by supply agencies, consistency cannot be guaranteed from teacher to teacher. Meanwhile, a growing amount of responsibilities are being put on supply staff, with the NASUWT citing 44% of short term, supply teachers being in charge of planning and preparing their own lessons. It takes time for a teacher to understand the requirements of a classroom and having teachers that work in multiple schools, and for a short amount of time, makes this near impossible.

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The BBC reported that regardless of who is in power over the next few years, School’s budgets are due to be cut by 2020 and that spending per student is set to drop by 7% over the coming years. Cuts are coupled with schools’ need to recruit which looks to be a growing expense. Agencies provide a means to fill vacancies, where schools struggle to; however “finders’ fees” are commonly upwards of 15% of the candidate’s wage; a cost which is levied to the school. In addition, according to the NUT, short term vacancies provided by supply agencies, hold an average daily charge of up to £100 more than the pay rate for that teacher.

A study from the NUT found that the amount of supply staff that work through agencies is growing year on year, however only 6% of supply teachers are being paid close to the national rate for teachers.  An agency is normally unable to offer membership to the Teacher Pensions Scheme and although some are able to build a pension through their agencies, many teachers report that contribution to the Workplace Pensions Scheme is at the lowest that is allowed.

Although it is not an ideal situation, many schools feel as though they have no option but to turn to agencies. To the dismay of some students, the shortage of maths teachers has not dictated that mathematics is dropped from the curriculum; instead schools have had to turn to agencies. Shortfalls of qualifying teachers; especially those trained in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mechanics) are being experienced throughout the country and despite government incentives, applicants remain low. Meanwhile, record numbers of teachers, around 50,000 a year according to The Guardian, are leaving the profession to find work in other industries.

Fortunately, there are solutions to the teacher shortage. Talent pooling allows for a way of preparing for future vacancies. By saving the details of candidates that have applied in the past, a log of interested applicants can be kept. These candidates can be communicated with quickly and easily, reducing cost and time per hire. In short, by creating a directory of applicants that are actively interested in working for your organisation the fear of unfilled vacancies is overcome, roles will not have to be re-advertised and there will be large reductions on the reliance on supply teacher agencies.

Click here to find out how to introduce Talent Pooling into your institution today.


Ed Hull

Ed Hull is the Marketing Assistant at Vacancy Filler Recruitment Software. As a keen writer with a degree in History, Ed contributes regularly to the Vacancy Filler blog.

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