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To not accept this "fantastic opportunity"

(72 Posts)
frogspoon Fri 26-Oct-12 00:28:55

I recently quit my full time teaching job to do supply teaching, and have registered with a couple of agencies. On registration I stated that my upper travel limit was 15-20 miles or more than 1 hour.

The agency phoned me yesterday evening to offer me a "fantastic opportunity" to do a day's supply in a "lovely private school". I took down the name of the school and checked it out. Yes, it is a lovely school... but it is 35 miles away, and more than an hours travelling time.

This morning I contacted the agency to let them know that unfortunately as the journey was too far, I would not be able to consider this job.

I then received another phone call this evening, asking me again if I could do the job which I had turned down earlier. I reconfirmed that I could not do the job, and that they had received my message. The guy from the agency spent some considerable time trying to bargain with me for this job even though I had made it clear that I could not accept it, and did offer some money towards the cost of petrol.

Whilst I appreciate that he was in a difficult position with nobody to cover this vacancy (apparently another person had accepted then pulled out last minute) he made me feel guilty for not helping him out. He also said that helping him out would help me be "recognised" by the agency, implying that perhaps if I did not help him out, it would be a bit more difficult for him to find me work.

AIBU to not agree to travel almost double the distance I agreed with the agency. I live in London, and there are over 500 secondary schools within 15 miles of my postcode. I do not understand why it is so hard for agencies find me work locally.

WorraLiberty Fri 26-Oct-12 00:32:50

Meh you can't blame him for trying as he'll more than likely be on commission.

YANBU for setting him straight though

I don't think he was implying that if you didn't help him it would be more difficult to find work...more that you'd be offered first refusal on the really good ones.

That goes on all the time in agencies anyway.

scurryfunge Fri 26-Oct-12 00:32:58

Depends on how much you want the work. If you can afford to turn it down then it's up to you. If you appear inflexible then it may well affect future offers.

SoleSource Fri 26-Oct-12 00:35:13

500 secondary schools etc wow!!!

Yanbu how much did he offer to pay for petrol? You said some, all or part of the cost?

MrsTerryPratchett Fri 26-Oct-12 01:59:49

A 15 minute journey in London? Really?

JeezyOrangePips Fri 26-Oct-12 07:38:11

15 minutes? She said 15 miles. Or am I
Misunderstanding you?

mutny Fri 26-Oct-12 07:41:36

Yanbu to not accept it. But neither is he, hr is doing his job.
Of course they will give you perks if you help them out. That's how the world works. If you are known to help them out they will give you first refusal etc. Nothing new there.

CailinDana Fri 26-Oct-12 07:53:06

If it's only a one-day thing I would do it. When I started doing supply I had a policy of taking all work, no matter what, and because of that I developed a really good relationship with the agency and my agent bent over backwards to get me decent jobs. In the end I got a long term part time supply job in a fantastic school and I was offered one on one tutoring which pays really well. Other supply teachers used to complain that they had real trouble getting work, or that they kept getting rubbish jobs, and I suspected that was because they didn't "show willing" at the beginning. After an initial quiet period I never had a single day without work for nearly a year. The jobs are definitely out there but they only give them to certain people that they know are reliable.

Can I add - if you want to get called back to a school, offer to do lunchtime duty even if you're not rostered, mark all books at the end of the day and leave the classroom as neat and tidy as possible. Schools told me directly that they specifically asked for me because of these pretty simple things.

Tabliope Fri 26-Oct-12 07:58:56

Sorry but I think you could have shot yourself in the foot. I think CailinDana is right. It was one day. They offered petrol money. I get loads of jobs as I'm flexible about hours etc. Often it's a case of you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.

Tabliope Fri 26-Oct-12 08:00:29

To add, years ago I did temp/agency work. I was very much in demand and because of that I managed to negotiate increases in my hourly rate with the agency (they've got a good margin).

CailinDana Fri 26-Oct-12 08:04:50

I got quite large increases in my rate too Tabliope - after only about 3 months they increased my daily rate by £30. Reliability is a massive issue for supply agencies. Not being able to come up with a teacher makes them look very bad to a school. So if they know there is a teacher who will jump at any job, they'll work hard to hang onto that teacher.

exoticfruits Fri 26-Oct-12 08:05:07

I wouldn't do it- but if you are not established yet and want them to give you work I would go for it. I never used agencies for this very reason- I hand picked the schools I wanted and applied to them directly.

CreamOfTomatoSoup Fri 26-Oct-12 08:12:21

CailinDana- marking all the books at the end of the day! Surely not? A secondary teacher can see 200 pupils a day. How on earth do you meaningfully mark 200 books between 3pm and 5pm?

CailinDana Fri 26-Oct-12 08:17:08

I'm talking about primary Cream - probably not doable at all in secondary and I'm sure they wouldn't expect it. I would try to go and put my initials and the date on the pieces of work though, even that is helpful.

exoticfruits Fri 26-Oct-12 08:37:02

As a primary supply teacher I was expected to mark work properly at the end of the day- as in the marking scheme. I used to get them to self mark things like maths and do some at lunch time. One of the reasons I wouldn't go 35 miles if I had young children. It was one of the reasons I became a regular at several schools.

frogspoon Fri 26-Oct-12 08:41:14

Thanks for the advice, particularly from the experienced supply teachers on here.

CailinDana, are you primary or secondary? I am secondary and from my experience the average book marking takes place about once every 1-2 weeks (on the basis that the teacher would see a class 3 times a week), so would not expect to mark work unless I was in a school at least a week. But maybe you disagree.

Obviously I do appreciate that the more I help out an agency, the more they will help me, but...

The only 2 jobs the agency has offered me so far (in about a month) were both out out of my agreed travelling distance. The first job I was offered was 25 miles away (5 miles further than I had agreed I would travel), and the second took an hour and a quarter to get to (again, 1/4 hour further than I had agreed I would travel).

As far as I can see, if I give an inch, they'll take a mile, in this case quite literally. I told them that I was concerned that if I agreed to travel 35 miles ("just 15 minutes further down the road from the school you went to last week") then next time maybe it will be 40 miles i.e. just another 5 minutes/ 10 minutes etc. The agency assured me that this was the furthest school on their books. Of course they would say this, I do not believe them for a second.

Why are agencies so reluctant to place workers in local jobs? Do they get a bigger commission if the teacher has travelled further or something? With over 500 schools within a reasonable travelling distance, I'm sure it would not be that hard to find a local position for every teacher on their books.

I have been given phonecalls at 7:30 in the morning, asking if I would come to a school on the other side of London, an hour and a half away. Obviously I would not be able to get to the school on time, but the agency should have realised that before phoning me. Why did they not just phone someone who lived within half an hour of the school?

exoticfruits Fri 26-Oct-12 08:46:42

I am not London so I can't say - but have you tried taking your CV to a local school and chatting to the Head? In my area schools only use an agency as a last resort and call on all the supply teachers they know first.

CailinDana Fri 26-Oct-12 08:48:10

You seem to have quite an adversarial relationship with the agency - is there a reason for that? It could be that they don't have many schools on their books that are local to you, that those schools have regular teachers they call on, or that the agency are reserving them, as I mentioned, for the most reliable of their teachers. I know that after schlepping around the southeast for a couple of months I became one of the teachers local schools were reserved for - they would ask me first before asking anyone else. That was a "scratch my back" situation - I had gone the extra mile (literally) to begin with so I became one of the "in crowd" so to speak. IME I don't think they'll take the piss if you agree to a few inconvenient jobs - they will start to improve.

WRT the marking - I was talking about primary, it's a different situation with secondary, although I would definitely mark worksheets etc at lunch time.

SaraBellumHertz Fri 26-Oct-12 09:03:04

The reason they're not offering you jobs locally is because those jobs are going to the supply teachers who have already "proved their worth" in terms of making themselves available and undertaking the awkward journeys to less salubrious schools.

To be frank you sound hopelessly naive. Agency work is like any other in that you start at the bottom and prove your worth with the added element that all your previous experience counts for far less than it would in a traditional work setting.

The agency's priority will be to provide someone willing, reliable amenable. If course they also want you to be competent but the former qualities trump the latter as far as getting work is concerned.

Having said that you don't sound to fussed about whether you work or not so provided you are happy with that state of affairs then good luck smile

frogspoon Fri 26-Oct-12 09:05:36

exoticfruits, I am considering sending my CV off, I know other teachers who have done this successfully.

CailinDana, I am always polite/ civil to the agency, I am just getting frustrated. Why would an agency keep local jobs back from teachers? I think teachers and schools would be more impressed with agencies who made good matches i.e. local school, right experience/ qualifications etc. The teachers would also be less likely to get stuck in traffic etc if the distance was shorter.

Both schools I have been to were pretty shocked and sympathetic about the distance and time it took me to get there. Its almost like agencies are deliberately giving teachers inconvenient jobs, and I really don't see what the incentive is for them.

mutny Fri 26-Oct-12 09:14:35

OP They probably will be matching jobs to teachers
however they will have certain people they give first refusal to. Which means you will be left to last.

In my last job I worked my way up quite quickly. One thing I always did was help out where I could. An example would be that no manager would agree to work a bank holiday late shift. I had just become a manager and when it was brought up at a meeting I said 'i'll see what I can do.' I took a few hours and went back and agreed to do it.
I told them that i had to love some things around and find some childcare, but ON THIS OCCASION i could do it.
I got lots of brownie points, but it was clear it was a favour and not be expected all the time. Imo, that's what you need to do.
Play the game. Accept some work you don't want to making it clear you are doing them a favour.

valiumredhead Fri 26-Oct-12 09:21:59

What sara said - an hour's journey doesn't seem that bad to me at all, in fact most people I know have that every day for work.

BiscuitNibbler Fri 26-Oct-12 09:23:45

I would also be careful what you say to the schools when you get there. Your last post reads as though you have been moaning when you get there about your journey.

They may sound sympathetic to you, but I would expect they will not ask for you again, which will put the agency off giving you other work.

lucyellenmum Fri 26-Oct-12 09:25:48

find a different agency

frogspoon Fri 26-Oct-12 09:26:10

Thanks for the advice.

I will probably phone them towards the end of half term and grovel a bit, and take the next job even if it is a little inconvenient.

Alot of it is also timing. I have spent the past 3 days in a pretty rough academy over an hours drive away and have been leaving the house at 7am. I also do evening tuition, so don't get back home until 8pm ish. I am therefore, understandably, exhausted. I also have alot of errands to catch up on before the weekend. (I did tell the agency this but they were unsympathetic as apparently they are in the office before I am out the door!)

Had this job been offered after a few quiet days, I would probably have gone for it, but right now I have so much to catch up on, including alot of sleep.

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