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London supply agencies chosen

Two of the biggest names in supply teaching are missing from an approved list of agencies being recommended to London schools.

The seven agencies chosen by heads and local authorities include Capita Education Resourcing and Protocol, considered by industry observers to be among the biggest three in the country.

But Select, also in the top three and Timeplan, another major player, did not apply to join the scheme and say they do not believe it will influence schools' decisions Agencies that did apply had to have the Department for Education and Skills's quality mark. Induction processes and background checks, professional development, value for money, support and assessment for teachers and communication with schools also had to be up to scratch.

The others on the list are Hays Education Personnel, ITN Teachers, Reed, Teach London and Celsian. All offer a pan-London service apart from Celesian, which works in 11 LEAs.

The pilot scheme, set up by the Association of London Government, representing the capital's 33 LEAs, the Association of London Chief Education Officers and the Government Office for London, will run from January 2004 to July 2005.

Stephen Twigg, London schools minister, said the list would help schools make more informed decisions by providing clear information about agency services and costs.

Louisa Woodley, ALG education chair, said it would bring significant benefits to London schools that relied heavily on agencies.

Paul Robinson, Wandsworth director of education and ALCEO's chair, said it would mean greater transparency.

But John Dunn, Select marketing director, said schools were less and less likely to be influenced by LEAs and added: "We felt that to try and get on a list which makes you equal with others when we are the market leaders would be a retrograde step.

"The market for teacher recruitment these days is almost entirely school based and schools are less and less influenced by their LEAs."

Tish Seabourne, TimePlan managing director, said: "At the end of the day our relationship is with schools not the Government Office for London.

"We have got the quality mark and this is just another layer of bureaucracy."

Agencies will have a second opportunity to apply for inclusion on the suppliers list in June 2004.

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