Thursday, February 12, 2009

What is the Quality Mark & How Does it Affect You as a Teacher Looking to Teach in the UK?

There are literally hundreds of agencies in the UK that have been established in the past 10 years. When the UK government realized they needed to monitor these agencies and make sure that they were sending qualified teachers into schools, they came up with the Quality Mark. The Quality Mark is given by the DFES (Department for Education and Skills) to agencies that meet their criteria for approval.

The Quality Mark is the government’s way of assessing agencies and their practices and then giving their “stamp of approval” to schools to use these particular agencies. If you’re trying to find the right agency for you, then the Quality Mark is the bare minimum that you would look for in an agency.

This means that the agency checks their teachers’ documentation and verifies that they complete all the requirements to be a teacher in the UK. They check their B.Ed, references, police check and visa. They see the original documents and stamp each document. They also do a List 99 check, which is a database of people barred from working with children.

I’ve heard some recruiters brag to teachers that their agency has the Quality Mark so they should go with them. It’s not exactly something to brag about! Just expect it, look for the Quality Mark logo on the agency web site and if they don’t have it, move on.

The vast majority of agencies you will encounter will already have the Quality Mark, so it’s not really something you should worry about. But I do know of one agency that does not have the Quality Mark that was featured on the front page of all the major UK newspapers in 2007. They had sent a “teacher” into a school to do a day of supply teaching. When he arrived at the school and was advised to collect the class, he then revealed he was a journalist doing a story about how easy it is to pretend to be a teacher and get access into schools! It was a major story.

So, look for an agency with the Quality Mark and register with them. Does Classroom Canada have the Quality Mark? No. It doesn't make sense right?

Well, the reason is that Classroom Canada is the Canadian version of Classroom Ltd. Classroom Ltd is in the UK, whereas we are here in Canada. I'd love it if the DFES would come to Canada to assess our records, but that will never happen. Since Classroom Ltd. has the Quality Mark, we in essence have it as well. All teachers must fulfil certain requirements in order to teach with us, and we check their files here in Canada, then again in the UK. We are deligent about this process as it would be awful for a teacher to arrive in the UK and then learn that they don't have the proper documents in order to teach there. Instead, we get everything ready here in Canada so our teachers can "hit the ground running," and this works for all of us involved.

In fact, one teacher arrived just a few weeks ago on a Friday, started supply teaching on the next Monday then had a full week of daily supply work. By the next Friday she had 2 interviews at schools and scored a great job that started the next Monday. Now that's what we like to see!

To learn more about the Quality Mark, QTS, and UK Curriculum, check out the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians by yours truly.

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