A TEACHERS' co-operative has been launched in Cambridge with the stated aim of reintroducing fair play into a supply teacher market that is often serviced by expensive non-specialist commercial agencies.
`We want to deliver co-operative values of honesty, openness and social responsibility to an education sector which has, for too long, been served by recruitment agencies with little commitment to education,` says Ariette Brown of the Teachers Co-operative Ltd.
The co-operative offers an education staff recruitment service founded on the principles of a combination of higher pay rates for teachers; lower charges to schools; a better deal for LEA budgets and `a more efficient, reliable community service`.
Co-operative Action – the body funded by co-ops from around the UK to support new co-operative enterprises – is so impressed with the Teachers' Co-operative's plans that it has funded its set-up costs with a substantial grant and loan.
`Supply teaching is a relatively young industry which is dominated by private enterprises with backgrounds in recruitment but with limited understanding of education or consideration for public sector budgets,` says Sarah Lees of Co-operative Action.
`They often pay low rates to qualified teachers and charge high rates to schools for a service that does little more than keep teachers in circulation.`
The self funding, self financing Teachers Co-operative is being set up by Ariette Brown, with fellow teacher Anne-Louise Peterson and husband Andrew Brown, to benefit pupils, teachers, schools and local education authorities.
They are currently recruiting supply teachers and contacting Cambridgeshire schools ready to launch in September.
The co-operative says that one phone call will deliver an ethical, value-for-money service that guarantees the best available placement, at a fair rate to the teacher; a lower rate to the school and, typically, a fraction of the mark-up of a private agency.
There is no introduction fee in the event of a school subsequently offering a contract to a supply teacher. Recruitment agencies normally charge a minimum of a month's salary. And Teachers Co-operative will share its annual profits with the supply staff as well as the schools who use the service.