The recent spotlight on the shortages affecting the education system have been a cause for concern…particularly as one of the most exciting jobs available is not attracting or retraining enough of the right people.

For those of you who are still looking to make a difference in the classroom, it’s likely that you’ll have a number of teaching supply agencies fighting for your attention.

Those who could suffer most from this shortage will be the low-income communities. We urgently need to see more teachers available to all schools – not just the schools that need them the most.

But who should you choose to work with and why?

The many teachers who are choosing to work as supply rather than permanent full time staff could think that it is a buyers’ market and they can pick and choose, but the shortages bring problems for supply teachers too. They are entering unusually stressed environments, can feel real pressure to take work when they do not want it, and can find themselves being shoe-horned into very inappropriate roles and mismatched settings simply to serve their agency’s wish to keep a favoured school on side.

Choosing the right agency is key to in-demand staff being able to maintain control (the reason for supply working in the first place) over their working lives.

Consider these five aspects before selecting the teaching supply agencies you put your professional life with…

An obvious in-depth knowledge of the education sector and commitment to supporting it (and not just the agency’s profits)

Choose an agency which can evidence that it cares about everything that affects children, their teachers and their schools. What does the agency do apart from find teachers to fill vacancies? Do they get involved, are their staff just salespeople or are they skilled matchmakers? Are the staff involved in charitable activities within their sector?

An agency that bends over backwards for its teachers

You are a very valuable asset and you should be looked after well. Try to talk to other staff on their books, ask colleagues what they have heard. Do you have your own one-to-one consultant who takes trouble to get to know you? Any issues in your home life such as dependent relatives? Work preferences? Special skills? Preferred type of placement? Do they offer training, CPD and other support?

An agency which has a stable staff

If people want to work for the agency itself (in other words there is more on offer than sell, sell, sell) is it going to be one which has more to offer its teachers, too?

An agency which doesn’t often lose its schools to rivals

Is an agency which is keeping its schools very happy – offering them appropriate staff, intelligent and responsive service… and much more, including loyalty incentives and support for school activities?

An agency which sees safeguarding as paramount, and not just another business process

When it comes down to it, supply teaching agencies will either be the gateway, or the barrier, to the wrong people gaining access to children. If they do not take this very, very seriously indeed, they aren’t a place that any committed teacher would wish to join. When looking at agencies, look into what they do which goes beyond the legal minimums. Do they offer safeguarding training to their staff, their schools, and to the wider community? Do they form partnerships whose goals are to make children’s lives safer? Do they put protection before profit-maximising?

Ignore all of the first four and the worst you can do is find yourself in an agency which doesn’t really value who you are and what you have to offer. Ignore that last one, and at worst you are colluding with an unprincipled organisation which risks making the world a more dangerous place for the very people you have trained in order to nurture and develop them.

Unsurprisingly, Connex ticks all the five boxes – the last one with the biggest tick in all the sector. Shop around the teaching supply agencies using our five pointers, or you can just sign up with usor send us your CV and sample what being with an agency which takes the whole job very seriously feels like.

(And if you’d like to speak to us personally, just call 0845 266 0650).