Agency workers are the losers

Professor Howson's advice to a fully-qualified primary teacher (TES, June 28) is partial. Supply agencies offer contracts of service, not contracts of employment.

The returning primary teacher, if on scale point nine or above, can expect to receive about 35 per cent less pay from working in a school when introduced to it by an agency than the same teacher would receive if paid directly by the school or local education authority, according to the Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document.

It would certainly be in the teacher's interest to compare terms for sickness, holiday and redundancy provision. The agencies are not employers and the agency-supplied teacher is not an employee.

The agency teacher will not be eligible to contribute to the teachers'

pension scheme in which the teacher, as an employee, benefits from an employer's contribution.

Under the agencies' contracts of service the supply teacher (in European law a "temporary worker") has the benefits and status of an itinerant fruit-picker.

Professor Howson does not mention union membership, a survival aid in the jungle of supply provision. Union advice to the teacher would differ from the professor's. Nor do either of the headteacher associations take as neutral a view of agency provision as him.

You print Professor Howson's help alongside an account of how the Bigfoot Theatre Company supplies actors to work in schools for pound;165 a day while paying the actors pound;100 a day. The company "insists" this is "a lot of money for actors".

News of agency "introduction fees" on page 13 in the same edition of The TES is relevant.

R Gartland

24 Lee Park

London SE3

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