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To ask if this sounds a bit suss and dodgy to you? Agency related.

(11 Posts)
JellyDiamonds Sat 06-Dec-14 10:18:47

I currently work as a TA through an education agency. I have an ongoing placement/assignment or whatever the word is at a school about 20 miles away, four days a week. The other day I do supply for them providing sickness cover wherever they need me. The school I am now a regular at is lovely and has a great at atmosphere, lovely teachers, TA's, kids, parents, lunchtime supervisors, the works. Having worked in schools on an off for years I know how rare it is to find a place like that.

I have no issues with the agency I am with as they have kept me in work constantly since I signed up with them, however another TA at the school suggested I should be signed up with another agency as well because obviously the problem with agency work is that it's not always secure. I did this and applied to another agency that she suggested, heard nothing for weeks and then yesterday had a phone call at 5pm yesterday from them asking me if I wanted to be put forwards for a position at a primary school 20 miles in the other direction from where I live to start in January, it's five days a week unlike the four I am doing at the moment so of course I said yes.

This is when it started getting a bit, well, dodgy sounding I suppose. He told me he needs me to sign up with his agency on Monday morning meaning that if my regular agency want me to work on supply (they almost certainly will, there is a lot of sickness about the moment) I will have to turn it down. He wants me to do this at a hotel in the middle of nowhere, then I have to drive to the school in question and do a session with a group of children who are aged ten watched by a teacher. Firstly I have never worked with this age group before (which I made clear in my application) and secondly I've never had to a planned "session" before. I always just turn up at the school and do whatever the teacher wants me to!

He was pushy and insistent, even when I questioned it. My current agency are not like this. I'd have liked a bit more time to research the school first and plan something first. A quick google search did reveal that they are in special measures though.

AIBU to ask if this is normal practice with agency and if it's sounds a bit dodgy? I don't know what to do? I like my current school a lot, and they have been lovely to me. But the other one is offering more hours. I am so confused, I expected to register with them like I did the other one and just wait for work to come in.

DoraGora Sat 06-Dec-14 10:29:38

Post this on TES. Doubtless you'll get more replies. I don't know the answer to your question. But, it wouldn't surprise me if the world was full of dodgy business people trying to force their will on people. My gut says that if you don't like the person who runs the agency, then have nothing more to do with him.

simbacatlivesagain Sat 06-Dec-14 10:39:05

For a long term 5 day a week contract they want to see if you are any good. The hotel bit all sounds a bit odd- but they want you signed to them before you go to the school- so the school cant then approach you directly if you are fab.

I wouldnt take ANY staff member on a long term contract without seeing them with children 1st. I know that I can get rid after a day if they are useless but it is disturbing to the teacher and children to do this. The other way (which you could suggest) is to get you in on a days supply and see if you are any good (this is my preferred method).

For a long term agency teacher (say to cover maternity) I would have them all in to teach a lesson. There is a big difference between 1 day casual supply and long term.

simbacatlivesagain Sat 06-Dec-14 10:47:03

Just don't turn up in leather mini skirt, bare legs, high heeled knee length boots and a see through white blouse with a leopard pattern bra (I kid you not-I thought she was looking for a post as a street walker not an HLTA)

JellyDiamonds Sat 06-Dec-14 10:51:10

Ahh I see, so the agency would lose out if the school were to approach me directly? It was odd, once I agreed to the interview I thought that would be it until any offer was made, but I then found about five missed calls on my phone and a message on my answer phone (I'd put the phone on one side and not heard it ring) with the bloke from the agency asking me to ring back ASAP.

In the school I am in the moment I went in as supply initially and was asked to stay, so that also makes sense.

RamblingFar Sat 06-Dec-14 12:01:25

Having worked for a number of supply agencies. Supply agencies get their money by getting people employed in school. They charge the school for example £100 a day, but pay you say £60 a day to make £40 for themselves. There are generally far to many small agencies all fighting over placing people in the same schools. If they even hear a sniff of a possibility of an opening they jump right in to try and get there first and get their agency fee for the job. This seems to apply even if the school isn't exactly what the candidate was looking for, or they know the candidate doesn't actually fit the schools job description. They stand to make or lose too much money, , they need to get a candidate in ASAP. Many of the agencies cover huge areas to maximize the chance of finding schools. You may well contact an agency that covers Leicester for example, with a Leicester phone number and address to find out both are just a forwarding service AMD their actual office where they are based is 50 miles away. If you do go to register with them therefore it's in a borrowed office, meeting place or possibly hotel. They need to.get your details on their system before you visit the school, so they don't have much other choice. Some agencies are good, some are rubbish, sometimes it just depends what consultant you get. However you cant always judge when you first deal with them. Registering with multiple agencies might get you more work, although if you're getting enough work through one agency I wouldn't always recommend it as they can get get pushy and annoyed if you can't work for them one day as you are already working elsewhere, and if you sign up to too many they eventually stop calling as you are always busy.

JellyDiamonds Sat 06-Dec-14 13:16:13

Thanks Rambling. Would they be annoyed if I contacted them on Monday morning and told them that having thought it over it's not for me? I have no experience of that age group and would be wasting the schools time wouldn't i?

RamblingFar Sat 06-Dec-14 13:42:18

They probably would be annoyed, but if you work through supply agencies you have to grow a thick skin to deal with them on the phone anyway I find.

If you don't feel happy about the potential job and felt like you were pressurised by them into arranging to go there, then I wouldn't let them make you feel too guilty about phoning them to cancel. Especially if you feel like it's unlikely the school would employ you and you'll lose pay for Monday as you won't be able to work for your normal agency.

sashh Sat 06-Dec-14 15:26:18

I'm a teacher and signed with various agencies, most do want to meet you in person and if they are miles away then somewhere in the middle is fine. I have not met up in a hotel but I have in a coffee shop and a pub.

I do find some agencies want you to be a 'good fit' with a particular school / college, others just want you to turn up.

JellyDiamonds Sat 06-Dec-14 18:12:08

That's interesting, I really don't think I am "good fit" for this school at all. My specialist area is early years and infants, though I have worked with year 3's (first year Juniors) as well.

sashh Sun 07-Dec-14 05:36:30

Stick with your present agency then, no reason not to sign with others but I find the ones that care about the 'fit' as they put it look out for you better.

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