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Agency pledges change

THOUSANDS of part-time lecturers have limited employment rights because they work through agencies, conference will hear.

Protocol Professional (previously Education Lecturing Services) is the largest agency in FE and last year supplied 20,000 teachers or associates to colleges.

Managing director Joanna Martin, a former college principal, doubts that much has changed for part-timers during the past three years, even though the situation varies from college to college.

"Some part-timers have superb contracts. There are others who rightly feel badly done by," she says. "Some of those are our associates, I guess, but others are those on college contracts."

Protocol, launched last year, is determined to stress the importance of induction and training. The company insists all lecturers without teaching qualifications gain one as quickly as possible but, as they are self-employed, individuals must pay fees or persuade a college to let them join a course free of charge.

More than 70 per cent of lecturers on Protocol's books hold teaching qualifications, says Ms Martin. Placements are offered first to trained teachers.

Natfhe claims fewer colleges are using agencies and hopes that a case currently before the European Court of Justice, which may lead to agency lecturers gaining pension rights, will mean that it is no longer a cost-effective option for colleges.

But Joanna Martin insists Protocol's turnover is going up. "ELS was a child of its time," she says. "Word is getting around that we offer a different service."

NM

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