I realise that I am fully complicit in the issues I am about to complain about and that if I had such an issue with it then I wouldn’t go through with my next year of teaching. However, I need work and the work I have secured is going to pay me. In fact it’s going to pay me considerably more than I am currently being paid.
I found my new job after I got in touch with a recruitment company. My plan was, having exhausted the charity sector with applications and two unsuccessful interviews with excellent charities, to use my knowledge of education to go into the recruitment sector. On the surface I justified selling my soul to profit by telling myself that I would be putting the right teachers into the right schools and therefore helping to make a difference from behind the front line. In reality I knew that my job would be to push teachers into jobs regardless of how well they fit in order to make my commission targets.
Luckily I was offered an interview with a school nearby to me, not much different to my current school and actually quite liked the ethos of and the subjects taught in the history department.
I like to think they snapped me up because I was so impressive at interview. Also my unrelenting honesty about (some of) my issues with education. I suspect they actually jumped at me because they didn’t have much else to choose from.
After accepting the job I was then forced to go through the process of deciding how I was going to be paid and who by. This is where things got a bit suspect and a little bit annoying.
I was told by my recruitment company that I had to find an umbrella company to sign up with. They would deal with my tax, make sure I was paying the correct amounts and also make sure I was reimbursed for my travel and food expenses. Sounds like a great deal right? Sign up for a company, don’t deal with tax returns, get paid weekly.
Actually, no it doesn’t.
When you dig a bit and realise that you’re not only paying them and fee for this service every week. But also that you’re paying yours AND THEIR national insurance contribution.
I did some research along with my partner. She was like a dog with a bone and would not drop the issue sensing the injustice in the situation. We read the NUT guidance on umbrella companies (their official guidance can be found here). They essentially recommend you avoid using umbrella companies at all costs. They understand that not only are you getting a raw deal but you’re also driving up the costs to schools. They’re paying a premium for good teachers because recruitment isn’t easy and you the teacher need to be paid well enough to make up for the fact you’re using an umbrella company.
This is why I take such great issue with the affair – profit is being put first ahead of the service and it comes at the expense of the school and in the end the tax payer.
“So, don’t take the job if you have that much of a problem!” I hear you scream at the screen.
And then what? Be jobless in September? Move out of my flat? Lose my independence?
I’ve applied for countless jobs. I’ve been to interviews. I’ve spend late nights looking through job adverts. Unfortunately, at this point in time, this is my best option.
I’m not quite ready to give up on my dream of actually making a difference to the youth of today, tomorrow’s leaders of the country. And maybe one day I’ll make it into a school like Eton. I somehow doubt that someone with such disdain for the current “Establishment,” to quote Owen Jones, would be allowed near tomorrow’s real decision makers.
This system of abuse of the public sector by private interest needs to change. If I could have found that school without the recruitment company and had as frank a discussion as I did with their SLT and head teacher I would. And their money would come straight to me and back to them via my tax contribution without making profit for these unethical, profit driven, private interests.