Back to Business – a blog from Gary Williams

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With the new term set to start, I have been giving some thought about the academic year ahead. Last year was a year of change, growth and lessons for all that work within the recruitment sector.

We have seen compliance standards re-developed, enhanced and re-established. Safeguarding has become more of a hot topic than ever before, and pastorally speaking in 2016 this is a vital progression.

I have reflected over the summer about what it means to be a recruitment agency to the education sector in the current climate. Yes, we provide a service linking schools with candidates – be it a teacher, teaching assistant or a member of the support workforce such as a caretaker or technician. But now our professional and moral obligations need to be examined more than ever before – with young people having such open access to ever changing technologies that develop at space age speed, our sector needs to do the same.

Our teams in Wales are now spread across six major locations – Aberystwyth, Bridgend, Brynmawr, Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham. I spend a lot of my time visiting these teams and instilling in them the importance of remaining diligent with compliance.

The world of education recruitment is of course governed by an official body – the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), but not everyone working within our world commits to membership, and of those that do – how many live and die by the REC sword?

We hold the REC Education Audited ‘Gold Standard’ and quite frankly I wouldn’t expect anything less. Our Compliance Team, and I am sure they won’t mind me saying are 100% stoic in their strict processes. If I was speaking on behalf of our ever-eager account management team, the processes are so robust it becomes a pain in the proverbial for them. But, they recognise that we won’t compromise on delivering supply staff that are 100% compliant. We all rejoiced when earlier this year the team won ‘Compliance Team of the Year’ the ‘Women in Compliance Awards’ in London – an accolade previously picked up by Google and Orange no less. So my question has to be – why are less than 10% of agencies in Wales achieving this accreditation?

So as we look to the academic year ahead I would urge all headteachers and school teams’ recruiting to ask questions of their agencies.

What are the compliance processes for their agency?

What is their safeguarding policy / procedure? We won’t release any member of supply staff into a school until they complete our safeguarding awareness course. They must also complete Level 1 within three months of being cleared by our compliance team.

What is their commitment to CPD?

Are they using an umbrella company to payroll staff? If they are, check what that means to them as a school regards liability, check again and ask for written confirmation.

Do they do what they say on the tin? It’s the Ronseal effect – if they say they are committed to you and your school and creating a safe recruitment process with CPD opportunities; ask them what that means – again get written confirmation.

In 2016 we re-signed our managed service provider status with the Welsh education system and we were named ‘Supplier of the Year’ at the National Procurement Awards. I am personally proud to be able to stand up and say ‘yes, we are robust, we are award winning and we take responsibility’.

On a final note, for this my first blog post of the (pre) new academic year – I would urge all recruiting schools to just make sure that their agency is water tight. If you have any doubt – ask questions and get them to pop it all in writing.

Now – on with the final throws of what is turning out to be quite the unpredictable summer with a host of Olympic brilliance to watch.