FAQs

Safeguarding is at the top of our agenda when delivering the Opus Teach service, which is why we carry out a full and robust compliance process. We want the schools who use our service to be 100% confident that necessary checks have been completed before they let anyone through their door, and we want the Teachers and Support staff that we place to feel proud to be part of a service which endorses their quality and credibility.

Our compliance process is designed to provide a suitable challenge to anyone wishing to work with the children of Suffolk, to ensure that the people we work with are of high quality and have all the relevant checks and qualifications in place.

Our process is unashamedly thorough, but we have a team and system in place to make the process that little bit easier.

Below are some of our frequently asked questions, but if you would like additional information, or have a question that is not listed here, please get in touch.

Q. What will the account manager do?

As much as the system is designed to be as user friendly and effective as possible, your account manager will be there to monitor requirements, the matching process and to ensure you are getting the best service. The account manager will also build a relationship with you through visits, email and phone contact to ensure we always understand your schools needs and demands.

Should there be any query or feedback required, your account manager will be able to answer and/or resolve this for you.

Q. How much does it cost?

Opus Teach believe in paying our teachers fairly and in line with the Main Teacher Pay Scales. You will be provided with a rate card clarifying our rates when you register with our service. This will include options on how you can get discounted rates linked to your preferred payment options e.g. you can get a discounted rate if you opt to set up a pre-payment account.

When you make a request online you will see the day rate for potential teachers/support staff so you will be able to select candidates knowing what the daily charge is.

The benefit of using Opus Teach is we pay back into the public sector, not our pockets. To see find out more about our rates go to our Rates Section.

Q. How long does it take to find someone?

Using our real time matching service, we are aiming to be able to provide supply cover for your school within 1 hour. If your request is for a more complex or longer-term placement your account manager will agree this with you.

Q. Can I book long term cover?

Yes of course. You can book in advance for long term placement or regular placements. Using our system, you can pre-book teachers by running a search and booking a teacher. Or alternatively, you can talk through your requirement with your account manager.

Q. Can I cancel a booking?

We do understand that sometimes a cancellation will be required. If you need to cancel a booking, or placement please contact your account manager. Bookings cancelled on the same day before the placement starts will incur a half day charge. Placements cancelled during the day will incur the full days charge. Please refer to your terms and conditions.

Q. Timesheets

Workers are required to submit their completed timesheets through our online portal at the end of the working week. School users (timesheet authorisers) will be notified once a timesheet has been added. These timesheets will then need to be approved by the school before 1pm every Monday. The online portal will be taken offline between 1pm and 2pm to allow payroll to be processed.

If a worker has uploaded a timesheet and the school fails to authorise the timesheet before the 1pm deadline, this could result in a faster payment charge of £25 charged to the school, in order to process the worker’s pay.

If a worker has not uploaded their timesheet by the deadline, their pay will be added to the following weeks payroll.

All timesheets must be approved by the schools authorised users.

 

 

Q. Can I make requests over the phone?

The best way to search through all available teachers is using the online portal, which will show you who is available to meet your requirements.

Of course, if you need support, your account manager will be on hand to help you.

Q. What checks do you do on teachers?

At Opus Teach we carry out a full and robust compliance process to include:

  • Identity verification (including suitability to work in the UK if required)
  • Qualification verification
  • Experience validation – via reference checks
  • Skills, knowledge and experience based interview with educational professionals
  • DBS check status
  • Health checks
  • Probation checks
  • Suitability and availability to work for Opus Teach

This may take 6-8 weeks to complete and we will keep applicants informed of progress.

Our assessment processes are unashamedly challenging as we want to provide the best teachers and support workers available. Our recruitment, application and compliance checks are delivered to REC (Recruitment & Employment confederation) standards and are in line with school’s single central record. https://www.rec.uk.com/

Q. What happens if there is a performance problem?

If you at all dissatisfied with any aspect of our service or the performance of our supply staff, please contact your account manager. If you are dissatisfied with a teacher’s performance, we will use your feedback to discuss with the teacher. We will either find you a replacement teacher or see if there are any opportunities for appropriate development with the teacher.

It is important that Opus Teach are able to ensure that both schools and teachers are happy with their placements. With this in mind, we will ask for feedback from both parties in order to improve the service, relationships and quality of our supply provision.

Q. What makes Opus Teach different?

We pay a fair wage to our teachers and support workers. Our rates for schools are competitive, fair and transparent.

Unlike private commercial agencies, Opus Teach is wholly owned subsidiary of Suffolk County Council. This means any surplus made over and above delivering the services, is returned to the public sector.

Our consultants don’t get paid commission and no deductions are made from teachers’ salaries to administer the service.

We believe in offering an honest and professional service and are always happy to receive feedback about our service and processes to make it work more effectively for both schools and teachers.

 

Q. What other services do we provide?

Our aim is to be able to assist you with requirements for any of your teacher or support staff needs, be that short term or long term. You can use our online system to request teacher on non-educational roles such as SEN (Special Educational Needs) roles, Teaching Assistants (TA), Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTA).

If you need cover for a non-educational role such as care taking, finance management or administration you can contact your account manager and we will seek to fulfil this through Opus People Solutions who provide temporary and interim solutions for all roles across the public sector.

Q. Do you recruit permanent posts?

At this time, we do not offer a permanent recruitment solution but if you are looking for support with permanent recruitment, feel free to talk to us and we will do our best to help you or sign post you to organisations we know who can.

Q. Who is responsible for safe guarding?

As a responsible Recruitment Agency, Opus Teach are committed to ensuring the safeguarding and welfare of young people. All of our workers will be fully DBS compliant and have a good knowledge of safe guarding policy and practices, which will be assessed as part of the interview process undertaken by educational professionals (who are also trained to Safer Recruitment standards).

If a safe guarding concern is raised by a school about one of our supply staff, the school will be responsible for reporting and managing this through their safe guarding procedures. The school will notify our account manager immediately to discuss appropriate action. If appropriate we will suspend a worker from our system until safe guarding concerns are resolved. In the event safe guarding concerns are upheld we will remove the supply worker from our team permanently.

Q. How much will I get paid?

We believe in paying fair rates of pay based on experience. Where possible we will use established salary scales such as the Teachers Main Pay scale. Our daily rates include holiday pay in line with agency worker regulations. Opus Teach will pay national insurance contributions and a minimum of 3% pension contribution. (you can opt to increase your pension contribution to a matched 5% – see Pensions). There are no other anticipated deductions from your daily rate.

Your daily rate will be agreed with you during the selection process.

When a school makes a request, they will select supply workers knowing their rates.

Q. Deal for schools: hiring supply and agency workers

The Department for Education (DfE) has recently issued communications regarding the new ‘deal for schools’ This ‘deal’ has been designed to ensure schools are getting value for money, and teachers that are working have been through thorough background and safeguarding checks.

Agencies were required to apply to be part of a preferred supplier list that would form part of this ‘deal’. Opus Teach, formed in 2017, was not able to satisfy the requirement for evidencing prior supply and therefore were not eligible to apply for this opportunity.

As a new agency, we have, however, been able to ensure that our processes, policies and ethics are aligned to those issued as part of the framework. Specifically:

  • We give value for money – you will receive well qualified and experienced teachers and support staff.
  • We are REC Audited Education, which ensures we adhere to the highest levels of compliance and safeguarding checks.
  • We are open about our rates – we openly provide information regarding our teacher pay and any fees we charge.
  • We are an agency that is able to provide both teaching and support staff, based on our connection with Opus People Solutions.
  • Our terms clearly lay out our charges for making a worker permanent.

So although, as a new agency, we were not eligible to apply to be part of this framework, we were clear that our processes would ensure that we were offering the highest level of service, with transparency over our very fair rates.

The framework has been issued without any restriction on schools using agencies that are outside of the framework, and we would like to reassure you that we operate to the highest possible standards, offering a fair and compliant service for both schools and supply staff.

Q. How do I get paid?

You will be paid on the Friday of the week following your timesheet submission e.g. if you claimed hours for week commencing 6th November 2017, provided your timesheet was approved by the deadline, you would be paid the following Friday 17th November.

Q. When will I receive my payslip?

You will be emailed your payslip on a weekly basis. To open your payslip you will need to enter a password. These are formatted as your first initial, followed by your surname initial, both in CAPS, then your date of birth e.g. John Test, born 01/11/1964 would be JT011164.

Q. Can I pay into my Teacher’s Pension Scheme?

Like all recruitment agencies, we are not able to make contributions to the Teachers Pension Scheme (TPS). Only schools or local authorities paying on behalf of schools can do so.

We do however offer NEST pension with matched contributions from 3%-5%.

Q. How do I make a complaint?

At Opus we do our utmost to provide an efficient, reliable and quality service, however if you are dissatisfied with any element of the service and wish to make a complaint, please contact us or your account manager and we will respond in line with our complaints procedure and do our best to resolve any concerns you have.

Q. Can I claim expenses?

Any expense claims will need to be agreed directly between you and your school. If you incur expenses on your placement these can be processed with your weekly timesheet and, if the school authorises the expenses, they will be included in your pay.

We recommend you get authorisation from the school you are working with before incurring expenses as if the school does not authorise these it may cause delay to your pay.

Q. How does the payment work?

You will be required to submit a weekly timesheet via the web portal for each placement you work. Upon submission, the timesheets will be sent to the respective schools for approval. Provided the timesheet is approved by the deadline, you will be paid into your bank account the following Friday.

Q. What happens if I miss the timesheet deadline?

If your timesheet has not been completed and approved by 12pm the following Monday of the week you have worked, you will not receive payment on the Friday. Instead it will roll over to the following Friday once approved. It is important that you manage your timesheet submission to ensure prompt payment of wages.

Q. Can I pick which schools I want to work in?

During the registration process we will talk to you about your preferences and accommodate these if we can. You can choose not to accept any placement offered to you, however, please bear in mind that continual refusal of work is something we would need to raise with you, as there is an expectation that, if you have confirmed your availability, you will be prepared to accept placements offered.

If there is a particular school you do not wish to work with, you can choose to de-select them, meaning you will not show as available for any requirements that school requests.

Q. How is feedback on performance used?

It is important that we are able to ensure that both schools and teachers are happy with their placements. With this in mind, we will ask for feedback from both parties in order to improve the service, relationships and quality.

We endeavour to meet with our workers on an annual basis to review their experiences of the service and for an opportunity for you to feedback any areas of concern, or suggestions on how we can continue to improve the service.

If poor performance issues are raised we will discuss these with you directly. We will seek opportunities to support you in developing your skills and CPD whilst you are working with us.

Q. How do I register?

Simply create an account on the Opus Teach registration page and verify your details via the link that will be emailed to you.

You then need to complete all sections of the registration process before you can submit. Once you have submitted your application form, we will be in touch to confirm next steps and support you through the registration process.

Q. How will I be notified of work?

Where a school requests you via the booking system, you will be sent an alert via text message, on the mobile number you use to register with us, to alert you that you have been offered work. Please bear in mind that schools are able to request multiple workers for a single request; in these instances, the first person to respond will be matched to the role.

If you are successfully matched to the placement, you will receive a confirmation text and more information about the placement.

For more information on this part of the process, please refer to your handbook.

Q. How do I manage or change my availability?

Our real-time portal allows you to manage and update your own availability on your personal calendar. Once you have accepted a placement and are working, your availability will be adjusted to reflect this.

Q. How long will my compliance checks take to complete?

The length of time it takes to complete your compliance checks will depend entirely on your individual circumstances. We ask that you allow 4 weeks for the full process to be completed, however, certain situations may delay your compliance.

 

Providing all referee details at initial registration and ensuring all your documents are in order ready for your face to face interview will assist in avoiding delays in your registration.

 

Q. What is a health check and why do I need one?

We have an obligation to schools to ensure we are providing applicants who have necessary fitness to carry out their work responsibilities, but we also want to ensure that we’re not sending you into an environment which could pose a risk to your health and safety. All successful applicants at interview stage will be sent an online Fitness to Work questionnaire to complete. This will be assessed by our occupational health provider and results will be sent to Opus Teach to review.

Q. What is the REC?

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation is the trade body for the UK recruitment industry. Holding the REC accreditation is the assurance that we abide by a strict code of professional practice and must evidence our continued compliance every 2 years.

Q. Why have you asked me to register with the DBS update service?

 

A disclosure and barring service check is essential to ensure that you are suitable to work with vulnerable groups. The update service allows us to carry out regular checks on the status of your DBS check. Where you are not registered with the update service, we will need to carry out a new disclosure and barring service check every 12 months or where you have had a break in assignments of 3 months or more.

 

This can cause significant delays with your availability. The update service allows us to carry out a ‘real time’ check on your disclosure and barring service check and avoids any disruption to your availability.

 

More information regarding the update service can be found at https://www.gov.uk/dbs-update-service .

Q. Who will interview me?

Your face to face interview is an important part of the registration process. You will be interviewed by a suitably trained and experienced educational professional.

Q. What happens if I get a poor reference?

Reference checks are part of our very robust compliance process. They form part of an overall view of your suitability to work for Opus Teach. Any reference that raises concern will be discussed with you and used as part of our overall recruitment decision.

Q. Why do you ask for a personal reference?

Due to the nature of the work history of our supply teachers, it is not always possible to obtain a full employment referencing history. We therefore request details of a personal referee, who has known you for a significant period, to verify your work experience or any breaks in employment.

Your personal referee should be someone that you have known for at least 3 years. They will need to be able to confirm your work experience or any breaks in employment. Your personal referee cannot be related to you and will need to have access to a verifiable email address such as a work email.

Q. What documents will I need to provide as part of my registration?

Our process includes the following checks:

  • Right to work in the UK
  • Proof of identity
  • Qualification verifications
  • Interview with an educational professional
  • Referencing
  • Health checks
  • Suitability and availability to work for Opus Teach.
  • Disclosure and Barring Service checks to include update service checks.

 

All of the above are essential to our compliance process to ensure that we adhere to safe recruitment practices.

Q. What can I provide as to evidence my right to work in the UK?

 

At interview, you will need to present your right to work documents. All applicants must evidence their right to work, regardless of their nationality or residency status.

 

The documents we will accept as evidence of right to work in the UK are:

 

Full birth certificate/adoption certificate accompanied by proof of national insurance number.

UK or EEA Passport.

Non EEA Passport containing a valid visa.

Valid biometric residence permit.

 

If you are unsure whether you need a visa to work in the UK, you can check this at https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa .

Suzanne Mildinhall

Opus Teach Account Manager

03301 242801

03301 242801

If you can't find the answer you are looking for, please contact us. As a new service we welcome your feedback and use it to develop the service and the information we provide.