Recruiter Guide: Start an education recruitment agency

If you’ve seen this blog today – perhaps you’ve seen it shared over on our LinkedIn page or in exploring the Isotope offering you found yourself looking at some of our recruitment startup guides – the chances are you’re an experienced education recruitment consultant exploring the idea of starting your own education recruitment agency.

You may focus on the primary market, the secondary market, the FE market, the SEN market, or perhaps your responsibilities span across a number of education specialisms. You may focus on everything from the day-to-day supply of temporary TAs, Teachers & support staff, or perhaps you focus on more long-term cover & specialise in permanent appointments across academies, trusts & private schools alike.

Whatever your ‘background’, we know how rewarding, challenging & exciting the education market is & therefore we understand (through both intuition & experience) that you may feel professionally at a stage in your career where it ‘feels’ right to start your own recruitment agency.

But whatever your journey & whatever your reasoning for being here today – here’s where we talk about how you start your own education recruitment agency. & not the “how to” guides you may be used to; Isotope have been fortunate enough to have supported a great number of education recruiters in their own agencies therefore we’d have to be idiots not to have picked up a few things when it comes to providing effective & specific support to recruiters across the education market.

Our aim is to talk you through what you specifically need to think about if you are looking to start an education recruitment agency & not through exaggeration or tortuous metaphors, but through genuine experience & expertise from the Isotope team who have all had real, hands-on experience in launching & supporting education recruiters in their own agencies.

Who knows, perhaps we’ve picked up a few things over the years that can help you on your journey to starting & running your own education recruitment agency. So what do you need to think about?

Compliance & Safeguarding

When starting & running your own education recruitment agency, you must ensure you are aware of the compliance & legality around running an agency within the education market. Sounds obvious I know, however it is vital that you, as the owner of your own recruitment agency, know what your responsibilities are.

Over our time, Isotope has supported & worked with our education agencies to ensure that they are aware of the responsibilities their agency has in regards to reference checking, DBS &/or List 99 checking, interview processes, candidate registrations (namely but not limited to, ID, right to work checks, proof of address checks), alongside certificates of qualification, disqualification by association declarations (where appropriate) & general safeguarding measures when dealing with candidates & so on.

These will be processes & procedures that you, as a consultant, will already be aware of & therefore, in making the leap to starting your own agency, it is important to ensure that you talk to the Isotope team to ensure that your agency has all the relevant processes & documentation to ensure your agency is compliant.

Once you feel confident in your process, you need to ensure you have a rigid & secure record keeping process – after all, there is no point being diligent with your onboarding & compliance, if you don’t have anywhere secure to store, amend & update records over the years to come! There are some CRMs that are particularly geared towards supporting education recruiters (& a number that our agencies have used over the years) that will help automate & simplify some of the compliance tasks that are required in your agency. It is therefore important that, when choosing a CRM for your agency, you inquire around the compliance procedures they have in place or simply talk to the Isotope team about the platforms that other recruitment business owners have used before you.

& finally, each education agency should ensure that they have safeguarding training in place (conducted & carried out by a third-party) & ensure that this is completed by all temporary worked placed through your agency. There are some exceptional third-party platforms out there that we have worked with our clients to provide, such as – Virtual College, Educare or the NSPCC.

Accreditations for your recruitment agency

Leading nicely on from ensuring your agency is both compliant & has a rigid set of onboarding processes & procedures, let’s talk about accreditations for your recruitment agency.

While not a legal requirement & not something that we advise all our agencies to achieve from inception, for some of our education recruitment clients achieving certain accreditation has been a worthwhile avenue to explore.

As a new education recruitment agency you may want to look to achieve certain accreditations, for example with APSCo on their Compliance+ accreditation, a Standards in Recruitment (SiR) accreditation, or be independently verified by the REC.  Furthermore it may also be worthwhile to sign up to access Teachers Services via the Department of Education portal as, over the years, this had provided supplementary support for teacher checks for our agencies.

We would also recommend, & something that we touched upon in our points above, having the relevant DBS checking facilities to hand. Fortunately, there are a number of platforms out there that provide DBS checking facilities however, over the years, a service that we strongly recommend is UCheck, which is an online service enabling recruiters to obtain DBS checks where, typically, the result comes back within 48 hours of the request.

Your candidate pool

The education market is both a rewarding & challenging market. It is rewarding because it is challenging & it is challenging because it is rewarding – no more so than because it is historically a candidate-led & candidate-short marketplace.

In fact the latest analysis shows that, while pupil numbers in secondary schools in 2019 were the same as in 2007, teacher numbers fell by 7% and pupil numbers are expected to rise by 10% between now and 2023, leading to more pressure on an already depleted workforce!  Not only that, but 1 in 5 new teachers leave the profession after their first two years (just two years!), while 4 in 10 leave after five years.

It is a combination of low & capped pay rates (despite the government introducing schemes to try to tempt people into teaching and to stay in teaching) & high-stress levels that mean that not only is it harder to find superstar education professionals but even trickier to retain their services as well.

But what does this mean for you & your recruitment agency? Well, it’s an opportunity is it not?  An opportunity to provide & create an agency that will partner with schools & in demonstrating that genuine value, you can both find & retain superstar teachers for your clients.

As an education recruitment agency keen to ensure you overcome the challenges that your candidates & clients will face within the education market, perhaps it’s worth thinking about some of the following questions; how are you going to create an agency that attracts good teachers above your competitors? How are you going to provide the consultative support to your schools that is required to educate & guide them around appropriate pay & retain levels? Do your rebate policies reflect the nature of the market you are in? & ultimately, how are you engaging schools in using your agency & repeated doing so?

One of our fantastic education agencies – LT Support – has developed & mastered thier own partnership program (LT Partners) with the help of Isotope that’s sole aim is to attract, retain & train clients to use the services of LT Support for all their recruitment needs. They thought outside the box when it comes to client attraction, & if you are thinking about starting an education recruitment agency we would encourage you do, too!

Suitable funding & Payroll Solutions

Perhaps you’re looking at running a day-to-day supply agency & perhaps you are looking to offer that to your clients & candidates from “Day 1” of your new education recruitment agency.

& we say, why shouldn’t you. But how do you pay & fund your temporary workforce while you’re waiting for your end client to pay?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions of Isotope from education recruiters looking to start their own recruitment agencies. They know there must be an answer to this question that doesn’t involve lifting up the floorboards & scrambling around for the tens of thousands they may need to ‘cash-flow’ their teachers on a weekly basis while they wait for their client to pay against the 30/60/90 day payment terms they agreed. But what’s the answer?

The answer is that your agency needs to engage with a Factoring & Payroll provider. Now of course Isotope can help with this; working with around 95% of the lenders in the market, we are able to provide the best & most suitable solution for your agency.

Our job would be to suggest the most suitable provider for you; we have seen that through providing our clients with a genuine smorgasbord of factoring & payroll options, we ensure that our client is matched with the most suitable factoring & payroll provider for them – not for Isotope.

Something that is important to bear in mind when talking to suppliers about your goals & ambitions within your education recruitment agency.


This is by no means an extensive list. But what we hope is that if you are a recruiter looking at the idea of starting your own education recruitment agency, in using this 4 step checklist you begin to ask yourself the right questions when it comes to starting your own recruitment agency. & if you’re interested in exploring the idea further, perhaps it’s worth reading this blog too.

Are you a motivated education recruitment consultant keen to understand more about how Isotope can help you in your own recruitment agency? Get in touch with one of the superstar team today to find out how we can help you.

Further Reading

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