Placing professionals into schools & academies

Earlier this year, the government decided to withdraw funding for its Quality Mark which the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) managed for the Department for Education for over a decade, and for the Welsh Government from 2007 to 2011.
The Quality Mark scheme were audits for specialist recruitment agencies that provided supply teachers into state schools. The programmes ensured they were following the rigorous application processes that are in place for checking staff before they are sent into schools.
The scheme was highly popular and did a great deal to improve the quality of supply teachers in schools across the UK.
To ensure continuing standards once the Quality Mark ceased to exist, the REC launched Audited Education, a new ‘kite mark’ for recruitment in education that built on the legacy of the Quality Mark.
REC Audited Education continues to ensure safeguarding and that agencies are undertaking all the relevant checks when recruiting teaching and non teaching staff. REC Audited Education enables schools, parents and governors to be confident that they are using an accredited supplier. The new standard goes beyond Quality Mark and looks at more than just compliance, requiring agencies to demonstrate that they operate best practice in areas such as customer service, staff development, diversity and client management.

All change
This is all the more important in a changing education environment. Major changes to the education landscape will impact on workforce needs and on the work of specialist education recruiters. Recent discussions with the DfE and the National College for Teaching and Leadership have honed in on how radical changes to the education system will impact on specialist recruitment agencies and the schools they work with.
Schools are becoming independent entities and local authorities are rapidly being replaced by academy clusters as key players in the delivery of education across large swathes of the country. With moves such as performance related pay and the increasing teacher shortage, schools are increasingly turning to specialist agencies as key workforce partners to help them navigate the changes.
New relationships and innovative systems are the order of the day. Supply agencies have a major role to play in the development of a flexible workforce that can respond to the challenges that schools are facing. Not least the rapid expansion of the school population. In the next five years, over 700,000 extra children are forecast to enter primary level education in the maintained sector – with an additional 150,000 pupils expected to join secondary schools.

The right recruitment partner
So how can schools select the right partner? The REC’s innovative and robust audit process is overseen by a distinguished panel of organisations from across the education space; ensuring REC Audited Education is relevant to the sector it serves. Chaired by Professor John Howson, from the University of Oxford, the first meeting of the panel in September brought together the Association of School and College Leaders, Voice: the union for education professionals, SSAT, the British Council, the Independent Academies Association Assured Services and the Department of Education. The National Governors’ Association will also be joining the panel, which will next be meeting in March 2014.
With an extensive track record in the space, the REC’s key partners and members in the space have looked to the REC to deliver a replacement standard as soon as possible following the DfE’s decision to withdraw funding for the Quality Mark earlier this year. And so using its experience and knowledge the REC has produced an audit package that ensures agencies are carrying out all of the checks they need to and go beyond client expectations in areas such as professional development. It is a ‘live’ product and this will ensure that the criteria are relevant to stakeholders and recruiters alike.
Driving standards
In an increasing school-driven education environment, the panel offers a valuable opportunity for representatives from important education bodies to raise and address issues that concern education recruiters and the flexible workforce in the sector, and help to guide the development of the REC Audited Education product. The REC and its specialist sector group REC Education will continue to work with school organisations, the Department for Education, the Welsh Government and the National College of Teaching and Leadership on matters concerning supply agencies and their role in the development of the school workforce.
The REC’s belief is that a clear commitment to standards needs to be upheld in the sector and that urgent action is needed, and needed now to get more teachers into our classrooms as schools face up to the coming surge in the number of students.

Positive Feedback
The feedback from the REC’s education stakeholders has been positive. A spokesperson from the Department of Education said: “The DfE welcomes the sector’s independent arrangements to ensure the continuing high standards of teacher recruitment and compliance with legislation.”

Shaun Wilson, Vice Principal at Bishop Challoner Roman Catholic College, said: “It is essential for schools to have the confidence in the recruitment agencies they use. The work of the REC lets them know that the essential checks regarding identity, safeguarding and right to work have been thoroughly done and that senior staff can focus their time and efforts in a more effective manner.” Brian Lightman, General Secretary from the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said: “Schools and colleges take the quality of support staff very seriously and it is important that they can rest assured that they are making safe recruitment decisions in sourcing supply staff. That is why the ASCL supports the REC’s work on compliance in this area.”
Deborah Lawson, General Secretary of Voice: the union for educational professionals, said: “Supply teachers need to know that the agency they are using is serious about compliance. We welcome the work of the REC in raising standards in the sector.”

Further information

Supplier Focus


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