As soon as I gained Qualified Teacher Status I was bombarded with recruitment agency requests for me to sign with them. Initially I signed with four agencies, two large companies, one medium and a small one. During this period I instantly rejected a large well known recruitment agency because of the way the managers spoke to their staff, one was barking orders and undermining the young lady who was checking my documents; first impressions are so important. When I first signed up with Protocol I was given a friendly welcome as they introduced me to the team. They put you at ease and demonstrated professionalism throughout, when checking safeguarding documents and when ascertaining my requirements; nothing was too much trouble and I left the Chelmsford branch feeling confident that Protocol knew what they were doing.
Protocol started to supply work straight away. I liked the personal touch given by the consultants and I knew they had my interests at heart. The consultant from the small company was the only other to offer a good personal service and instant work but she later joined a large recruitment agency and the personal service petered out, I then worked solely with Protocol who continued to give an excellent service. Matt Hicks who was my consultant then always listened and worked tirelessly to keep me busy, that was nine years ago. More recently my day to day work is handled by a team headed by Ian Chilmaid and assisted by fellow consultant, Demi Cato, together they have successfully arranged placements throughout a range of different schools on long term placements. I have written in the past about Ian's qualities, he has integrity, honesty, a sense of humour with a professional approach which is unrivalled. His positive and fair approach to both clients in schools and Protocol's employees guarantee that he can be relied on and trusted. His attention to detail ensures that both parties are happy with the service and on the rare occasions when issues may need resolving his articulate communication is always factually correct. You may think that this is normal practise but I have had several incidents when other agencies have lied, misled and fabricated the truth in order to get a booking. I know the staff at Protocol, Chelmsford would rather lose a ‘sale’ than compromise their integrity; for this reason I have brought additional business to them.
I can phone anytime, about any aspect of the booking and if I have any concerns they are treated respectfully and with professionalism. I am listened to and whatever is required, especially if it refers to safeguarding, is taken seriously. Protocol will never knowingly place supply staff in situations that compromise their safety but I know from experience that some agencies do.
If my consultant is unavailable, other members of staff will do their utmost to assist with my enquiries; they work as a close team and often know about my booking details.
Protocol offer a digital timesheet to schools and those that opt for it have found it a faster and more efficient way to confirm hours worked. Previously paper timesheets needed to be signed at the end of the day/ placement by a designated person at the host school and in the past I have experienced difficulties getting signatures due to the busy nature of their job; with digital timesheets these can be approved at a convenient time to the signatory, even remotely. Any queries can be raised by schools or Protocol staff via the same website and there is even a digital diary.
Digital diaries are another useful resource for Protocol staff, consultants can check and update them with bookings and supply staff can amend and adjust them according to their availability remotely without the need to phone or text.
There are so many recruitment agencies for teachers to choose from and they can be forgiven for believing that they all offer the same service but they do not. Some are sporadic in their bookings, others maintain that the schools are the important clients and fail to recognise that both the supply staff and schools are equally important. A good consultant knows this but agencies need whole teams of consultants with the same ethos to be a good agency and that is rare to find.
Protocol is one such rarity.