Guidance

Deal for schools: hiring supply teachers and agency workers

How schools can get value for money, avoid fees and find local agencies who complete thorough background and safeguarding checks.

How the deal works

The deal uses a list of preferred agencies to:

  • help schools get value for money
  • set standard practice for safeguarding checks
  • set standard practice for agency fees

The agencies that have signed up to be part of this deal have agreed to:

  • complete thorough checks on all their workers
  • have relevant accreditation
  • be open about their rates – showing the mark-up they charge
  • give schools the opportunity to avoid paying temp-to-perm fees
  • always tell you that they’re part of the deal
  • offer the terms they agreed as part of the deal first

We provide a tool that you can use to:

  • find a list of local agencies who can provide you with the teacher or other worker you need
  • find an agency that can manage all your agency worker needs – a ‘managed service provider’
  • check the rates the agencies charge
  • find out how much you’ll be charged if you make an agency worker permanent

Agency mark-up

Mark-up is the percentage the agency charges on top of the charge for the worker. It includes things like:

  • overheads
  • the agencies’ profits
  • management charges

The charge for the worker includes their pay and other costs such as:

  • employer’s National Insurance
  • holiday pay
  • pension contributions
  • apprenticeship levy

How to get the tool

We emailed the tool to all schools. If you do not have it, email supplyteacher.deal@education.gov.uk using your school email address listed on get information about schools.

How to use the tool when hiring a worker

  1. Enter the kind of worker you want and your postcode or unique reference number (URN). This will give you a list of local agencies who can supply what you need, ordered by the mark-up they charge.

  2. Ask for a quote – they must offer the terms they agreed with us, but you can still try to negotiate a better deal if you want.

  3. Follow your usual way of assessing quotes and hiring staff.

  4. Once agreed, you’ll need to sign an agreement with the agency to confirm that the worker has been assigned, that they are being provided under the terms of the deal and the agency rates are what they agreed to offer under the deal.

  5. The invoice the agency sends you should break down the total cost to show the cost for the worker and the agency’s fees.

You can find your URN on get information about schools.

Email supplyteachers@crowncommercial.gov.uk for help with hiring workers.

How to find a managed service provider

The tool has a list of ‘managed service providers’ – companies who can handle all your temporary staff needs.

They can help you save money by consolidating all your spending and dealing with only one company. They can be good for large schools, or groups of schools, who need many temporary staff.

There are 2 types of managed service providers:

  • master vendor managed service providers – these can supply workers they employ and workers from other agencies
  • neutral vendor managed service providers – these only supply workers from other agencies

To pick the best, you may need to run a process where several providers can bid for the contract. Email supplyteachers@crowncommercial.gov.uk for help with this.

Check how much it costs to make a worker permanent

Agencies can charge if you give one of their workers a permanent or fixed-term job paid directly by you. These are called ‘temp-to-perm fees’.

The agencies in the deal have all agreed to limit how much they charge. They will not charge at all if the worker has been in post for over 12 weeks and you give them 4 weeks’ notice.

Use the tool to see how much the fees will be or to avoid a fee entirely. Check different dates to find the cheapest day to make the worker permanent.

Fixed-term fees

All the agencies that are part of the deal can find fixed-term workers for you. You then employ and pay the worker directly.

It’s your responsibility as the employer to conduct background and safeguarding checks. Find out more about your responsibilities.

The agency will charge a one-off ‘finder’s fee’ for finding you the worker. Under the deal the most they can charge is their mark-up for the worker’s pro-rata salary for the length of the contract.

If you make a fixed-term worker permanent

If you make the fixed-term worker permanent up to 6 months after their temporary assignment ends, the agencies may also charge a ‘worker transfer fee’. Use the tool to work out how much this will be and how you can avoid paying a fee.

Checks the agencies do on workers

The agencies on the deal must provide evidence that they’ve done these background and safeguarding checks on every worker:

  • face-to-face interviews
  • identity
  • proof of address
  • right to work
  • professional registration and qualification as appropriate
  • 10 year employment history
  • references covering last 2 years
  • disclosure and barring service (DBS) checks – including barred list information if needed
  • overseas criminal record checks, where workers have lived or worked abroad for over 6 months
  • making sure the worker is not subject to any current General Teaching Council for England or Teaching Regulation Agency sanction or restriction, or been disqualified from working with children
  • Rehabilitation of Offenders Act declarations
  • fitness to work declarations

If you need extra checks you can do them, or ask the agency to do them, but there may be a charge.

You must get written notification from the agency that the checks that you would otherwise do have been completed.

Your school still has the statutory responsibility for the safety of your children. Find out more about your responsibilities in the ‘Keeping children safe in education’ guidance.

Using an agency that is not part of the deal

We recommend you use the deal to make sure you get the benefits it offers.

If you have a contract that is not part of the deal, you can still use the tool to:

  • hire workers next time you need them
  • check if you’re paying a fair price with your current agency

We cannot add new suppliers to our deal at this time.

Workers you’ve already found and want to hire

If you already have a worker you want to hire who is not signed up to an agency, and you do not want to conduct the safeguarding checks or manage the payroll, you can nominate the worker to an agency to do this.

These are called ‘nominated workers’.

Use the tool to find an agency with competitive mark-up rates and send them the gross pay rate you have agreed and the worker’s contact details.

Always ask the worker’s permission before you share their details.

How we make sure agencies comply with the terms of the deal

The Department for Education and Crown Commercial Service (CCS) will make sure all the agencies comply with the terms of the deal.

The agencies must be accredited by one of these bodies:

These bodies:

  • make sure the agencies have sound recruitment processes
  • audit them to make sure they’re complying with terms of the deal

Complaints and concerns

If you’re unhappy with a supply teacher or agency worker’s work, speak to the agency in the usual way.

If they do not resolve the matter, or you suspect an agency is breaching the terms of the deal, contact CCS at supplyteachers@crowncommercial.gov.uk.

If you think an agency is breaking the code of conduct or ethics of their accreditation body then you should contact the accreditation body.

If you think an agency is breaking the agency worker rights law you can get confidential advice and guidance from:

You can also complain about pay and work rights online.

Full contract details

You can find the full contract details on the CCS website. Email supplyteachers@crowncommercial.gov.uk if you have any questions.

Published 31 August 2018