Cost vs value – navigate the right way through the teacher shortage

    Published: 22 May 2017

    Anne Taylor, Head of School Recruitment, asked Randstad what is important to ensure Hertfordshire schools stay compliant when using agencies for short-term supply or longer-term placement....

    With an excess of 500 education recruitment agencies located in England – making the assumption that half of these will look for business in Hertfordshire and assuming that each of these agencies has one recruitment consultant working in the Hertfordshire territory – meaning that frontline staff are potentially fielding calls from 250 recruiters weekly.

    The recruitment crisis is no secret; the DfE has not met its own targets for recruitment for the last four years, so there is no denying that recruitment agencies can add value.

    Approximately 33,200 individuals commenced teacher training in 2015/16 and 42,500 left education employment in 2014. The government model shows a forecast of 29,200 new or returning teachers in 2016/17, working on the government estimate that 12% will leave education within the first 12 months; this leaves a not very reassuring number of 29,216. These numbers clearly demonstrate why schools should be able to look to education recruitment agencies for a more advanced talent attraction strategy.

    It is not feasible to sense and/or quality check 250 recruitment agencies – so what can schools be looking for as minimum requirements, to ensure that they can quickly exclude agencies that will not add value to schools?

    There are seven questions to ask recruitment agencies, in order to ascertain the overall safety of any recruitment decision:

    Do they hold audited status for the education sector?

    This goes far beyond compliance with vetting of candidates. It requires agencies to demonstrate that they operate best practice in customer service, equality and diversity, and upholds a professional consultative culture and ethos. This means that the agency has subjected their policies, processes and recruitment files for actual teachers to audit, to the external body that regulates all recruitment businesses in England – The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC).

    Can they demonstrate their adherence to safeguarding, disqualification by  association and prohibition from teaching checks?

    A reputable and audited agency will be able to easily produce their policies in these areas and, in the case of bookings for either short- or long-term bookings, these checks and the results should be readily available, with photographic confirmation by an agency worker.

    Are they transparent with regards to regulation changes for IR35 and umbrella workers?

    Changes coming into effect as of April 6th 2017 mean that this tax loophole has been firmly closed, all the way back  to end hirer, meaning your school could end up liable for any unpaid tax as a result of an agency working outside of the PAYE model. Your agency should be able to demonstrate that they have a strong PAYE model that removes all risk from you as a client.

    What is their stance on Agency Workers Regulations (AWR)?

    This is a contentious area for most – it does tie in very directly with the cost and value analysis, as it can often appear that an agency is ‘expensive’, whereas if AWR is broken, then it could be the agency, and you as the end hirer, at risk of litigation.

    The Agency Workers Regulations, "AWR", came into force on 1 October 2011. The legislation gives temporary agency workers the same basic rights, after 12 weeks in the same assignment, as those on permanent contracts of employment in a comparable role.

    How does the agency attract talent and how do they retain them?

    Your decision to work with an agency is to facilitate a solution to a problem. They should be able to clearly show that they have a varied strategy for attracting talent, which can consist of NQTs, established educators and even talent from commonwealth countries with a comparable curriculum.  They should be able to evidence all advertising campaigns to justify recruitment (which in turn demonstrates strong financial management on your part, by not paying expensive advertising fees in addition to any agency fees).

    Can they demonstrate commercial security?

    An agency being on a framework of any kind is a good barometer for commercial compliance and security, because of the amount of evidence and investment required to get onto a framework, a large part of which is being open to external scrutiny. This framework may well not be in your authority, but does offer some peace of mind.

    Will they make it easy for you to see your investment so you can measure against it?

    The agency worker fee structure is as follows:

    Salary + National Insurance (13.8%) + Pension (1%) + Agency Fee = Total Charge

    A scrupulous agency will have no issue in detailing the components of their formula for a placement.

    The overarching theme is that your agency should be attracting good-quality talent, thoroughly vetting those candidates, and respecting them and you by paying them in accordance with AWR and having a transparent fee structure that can easily be broken down, with no smoke and mirrors. Each of these elements will mean that your learners are safe and there is no legislative or financial risk to you.

    For more information, please visit the Teach in Herts website here:

    We welcome your thoughts and comments via Twitter using @HertsLearning

    This article is from the May edition of The Exchange. To read the full newspaper please visit: bit.ly/TE-May2017