LETTER : Outlaw the classroom cowboys

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The Independent Online
Sir: Fran Abrams ("Children put at risk by parasite teacher agencies", 12 April) reports NASUWT fears of children at risk from cowboy teacher agencies. As an agency founded on an ethos of service and professionalism, we share these fears.

TimePlan Education Group was the first and is the largest of the independent agencies providing temporary teaching staff to schools. Five years ago, we first approached the Education Department with a proposal either to regulate or draw up a code of conduct for agencies. Three years ago, we met officials with our professional advisers, Price Waterhouse, with a worked-out scheme to police the service. Last year, we asked the NASUWT for support in this endeavour, and we received no reply.

A strong code of conduct is long overdue. The Department for Education and Employment has a draft code which we understand is ready to be issued, and we last spoke to their officials three months ago to try to move matters on.

The code will cover all suppliers of temporary staff including local government. This is an essential element, since we see our rejected applicants working through both LEA and independent supply offices.

Chris King

Director of Education

TimePlan Education Group

London N3

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