I work as a supply teacher through Zen Educate. I’ve previously worked as a supply teacher for different agencies and there are a few things that set Zen apart from the traditional approach, and can help you find teaching jobs in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Bristol.
The online interview is more like a school interview than an agency interview — you are verbally asked questions rather than filling out lots of paperwork. Safeguarding checks are done, and you do meet someone in the office who checks all your ID.
I was a little nervous about joining Zen at first because it was an online company but I shouldn’t have been. Zen does have security and their staff are lovely! They have made me very welcome. When booked for daily supply work, they have often rung at the end of the day to ask how my day went which is nice.
Since working with Zen, I've had the opportunity to work in a couple of schools closer to home, been rebooked in the same school and done guaranteed supply. The guaranteed supply is good, in the event you are not booked then Zen will ask you to provide feedback or write about a topic. If you love to write and teach, then this is something for you. I’ve also had an increase in being booked in advance or the night before for daily supply, which I like. This is much better than previous traditional agencies.
Their app makes managing your time, availability and bookings easy. You also have an online profile which schools see to request you for work. I love that schools can search and rebook me directly, as well as ring Zen like a traditional agency. This helps build rapport with the school and you can start to get to know the children. On the app, you also get the name of a point of contact from the school before you get there.
No timesheets! The last agency I worked for also had no paper timesheets, but I still needed to complete this online. With Zen there is no timesheet! No rushing to complete this and meet the closing deadline. This does feel a little weird at first, but you get used to it. You have a history and a record of what you have worked online if you want to keep track.
Zen is always transparent about how much they charge schools and pay you. Zen does work with an umbrella company, so there are some admin fees, but the fees are simple and clear. I also had the choice of accruing the holiday pay rather than having it paid within my daily rate via the umbrella company. This means I can have this paid during the school holidays. I feel with the financial cutbacks that schools are facing, it's important to understand and know what schools are being charged as well as what you are being paid. This did play a big part in why I decided to join Zen and explore what they had to offer.