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Third council boycotts temp agency

Renfrewshire has become the latest of the new councils to rule against using the private teacher supply agency TimePlan Scotland. The London-based company is the largest teacher supply agency in England and has opened offices in Glasgow to take advantage of the reorganisation of local government.

Glasgow and South Lanarkshire have already voted not to use the agency. At the first meeting of Renfrewshire's education committee last week, councillors agreed to advise headteachers that existing methods of recruiting teachers should continue.

Shelagh Rae, the council's director of education, said: "If we are not the employers how do we control the quality of the work we do in schools? What would we do if there were complaints? Parents normally come to the local authority."

A recent meeting of 11 of the 12 directors of education in the former Strathclyde Region is understood to have heard doubts about the wisdom of recruiting through TimePlan. Unlike south of the border, rates of pay in Scotland are determined through the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee and teachers must be registered with the General Teaching Council.

Fred Forrester, depute general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said: "There is no real problem at present in getting supply teachers in Scotland. Clearly Renfrewshire feels it does not need the services of TimePlan."

Mr Forrester said that there was particular concern about who would complete annual probationary reports for new teachers working for a private agency.

Ian Penman, chairman of TimePlan, responded: "We have been inundated with applications from teachers who are not entirely happy with supply work available to them under present arrangements or happy with the current taxation arrangements which means they pay emergency tax if they work for more than one authority."

TimePlan Education Group won a High Court battle in London with the National Union of Teachers last year over accusations that it undercut rates of pay. The company successfully argued that supply teachers were not bound by the 1991 teachers' pay legislation south of the border, and insisted that 85 per cent of its teachers were paid more than under national guidelines.

In January, the company recruited 60 Scottish primary teachers for New Zealand (TESS, February 16).

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