In the last few weeks, I have been asked by several MATs and at least 10 CEOs of Education recruiters, THE SAME QUESTION…

Do you think the new CCS teacher supply framework will fail, just like the previously endorsed recruitment frameworks?

‘I can’t see it working, as it prescribes more pains than actual gains’


Well, to create a private to public partnership, tender, framework or even just a request for a new service, there should be a pretty good reason to do so and a question to be answered. 

Extensive due diligence should be carried out and the proposed relationship must be significantly better than the one it will replace.

If public sector procurement bodies were a private enterprise, they would more than likely have good business information systems to collate strong and meaningful data, touch points to look at the internal efficiencies and effectiveness of its service. 

Regular assessments would be made on what they can do to improve delivery and better their outcomes.

If there was then a need look for external intervention to improve a process, they would take into account the costs of the tendering, implementing, change management and service disruption, as well as looking to ensure that any changes were solid and sustainable. 

As this would all form part of the total cost to be measured when looking at their Return On Investment (ROI). 

Will the CCS effort be worth the reward?

In essence, the changes made will need to remove pains and create lots of gains!

It cannot simply be a tick box exercise to create work and funding for a procurement team, nor so an internal division can use graphs for social proofing to present at a board meeting.

I’ve seen this go very, very wrong….but more on that in a bit!

Unfortunately, when a public sector body mandates for private sector suppliers they are normally attacking the space from way behind the curve. 

The excessive time it takes and the relatively low level of market due diligence that is carried out, has them working on their perception rather than the reality of a good service; what they think they need, not what’s actually required, as they try to make their predetermined answer, fit the problem.

It’s rare that they will have looked at the issues with previous solutions or try to learn from the mistakes of the past. If they have, then they must just be ignoring them, as similar public sector resource solutions, within education, have failed.

It is also unlikely that anyone would have been held accountable for a previous failure. So it’s doubtful the failed solutions were investigated to any depth that would give them helpful answers on how to stop history repeating itself.

“The whole idea that you can mandate for a set solution to fix a problem you think you have, when you have no idea of the depth of solutions that are available nor any information on successes within other sectors, just blows me away!”

Richard Shotton, an Oxford graduate, who went on to use behavioural science within his marketing company, has written a book, ‘The Choice Factory’, which highlights some of the issues with misleading bias when ‘asking the customer’. 

He explains why the customer consistently underestimates the context and complexity of a situation, due to their position in the supply chain. He also shows how the bias of ‘social proofing’ keeps areas such as the public sector in a constant state of ‘no one ever lost their job for buying IBM’ or to put it another way, let’s try the endorsed solution as its safer to fail with the herd, than try a new path to success.

I have worked in recruitment and education resourcing for almost 20 years, I also advise over 200 CEOs from recruitment enterprises in the most mature and advanced sectors on the planet. I am therefore extremely fortunate to get a true birds eye view of the massive disparities, inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of recruitment solutions working across the public sector. 

Within just the education sector, I have seen and watched fail; the Pan London agreement with the GoL, MStar for Education through ESpo, the heavily subsidised DfE SRS system and now we see they have just launched another job site at a cost of £12m, when, for its tech-stack, should have been around a tenth of that…!!

Money that could have gone to schools?

The question should be asked –

Just how much time, effort and potential school funding has been wasted on poorly thought through solutions over that last decade? 

Many millions of pounds I fear.

A couple of years ago I sat down at a dinner and went through many of the recruitment issues, failures and solutions with the then Education Secretary, Justine Greening. After which she was very keen to set up a meeting with her and her team to delve deeper into what we had discussed. 

Justine’s office set a meeting for a few weeks after we had met, but, like so many in her position, she was gone before change could happen. Leaving a team who weren’t that keen to meet unless instructed to.

(Anyway why would they want to talk to me….the only recruiter in the country to save 12 school groups and the world’s largest independent educator millions of pounds on recruitment, while improving retention and the quality of their talent acquisition. I mean, to be honest, it’s hardly worth me mentioning).

Now what about that inversely priced CCS supply framework?

Well, the main issue the CCS framework faces, is that it provides a service that looks worse than what schools presently have and it doesn’t answer any of the questions raised. 

I can’t ever remember a school asking for….

  1. A structure making daily supply more expensive than long term supply
  2. A more complicated invoice to reconcile 
  3. A logistical nightmare at 7am due to acceptance requirements
  4. A pool of unaudited, non-mandated agencies
  5. A structure encouraging the best teachers to be placed ‘off contract’
  6. A portal from 1999
  7. A list of agencies not active in the schools area
  8. A 154 page document to wade through 
  9. A list that restricts access to OTTs, as their costs are too high.

Even their biggest selling point of the perceived gain from a supply teacher becoming free to employ after 12 weeks, is just pumping up a giveaway that is mostly on offer.

Agencies probably wont worry about losing a teacher at 12 weeks on the framework, as they’ll …

A) Pay more to the teacher, so their set % margin then pays them more in £s!

B) Supply teacher will now require a larger salary to move from the agency.

C) Have comfort knowing that 80% of supply teachers don’t want to be permanent. 

D) Most agencies would already offer 12 weeks free temp-to-perm for partner schools.

So no gains, just looks like more admin pain, process change and a fee to CCS for, I’m not quite sure.

In a candidate short market, launching a 90’s framework just isn’t the answer…

As it gives – 

  • No additional channels
  • No access to wider pools
  • No efficiency gains in back office or service
  • No technology to manage all suppliers
  • No AI matching, job board links, feedback, MI/BI etc, etc….
  • No Omni-channel, just more effort through multi-channels!!

So if it does get some traction?

Well…with procurement led contracts they will normally need to increase their fee or at least add more liabilities to the supplier at every renewal, while also pushing down the suppliers charge rate even further. 

Obviously, this will continue to narrow supply channels and reduce the quality of the service, right up to the point of its eventual fracture. That’s when it becomes a client problem to sort out.

Remember I said at the beginning I’d seen it go very, very wrong….well…

A few years ago I oversaw a Children’s services agency. We were asked to carry out several mock inspections, one of these was in Haringey after the high profile death of Baby P (Peter Connelly). 

You may remember the Director of Children’s services, Sharon Shoesmith, standing outside on the council steps, holding charts and graphs of her teams hitting their KPIs and being tight on expenditure. 

Well, the findings on team interaction and transfer of information weren’t so good. The department also operated with over 50% of their staff rotating as agency workers

Were the failings because agency staff weren’t good enough? 


There was first an issue with that department being badly run, so a lot of workers didn’t want to take full time employment. However, the issue for the large rotation of agency workers, was that their managed framework was paying less to their agencies than similar London social care frameworks. 

So the department ended up with low levels of service and access to the contingent staff the agencies struggled to place elsewhere. It is a very tough scenario to manage, one that leads to huge attrition rates and a lack of staff continuity. 

Haringey wasn’t an isolated issue either, the same issues tainted the Doncaster and Birmingham’s frameworks. They also had; 

  • Child deaths
  • Procurement lead MSP/Frameworks
  • Very high level of agency staff
  • Low pay levels to agencies in comparison to other social care frameworks 

After presenting this to several MPs, we were asked to attend a select committee hearing, but systemic inertia is a tough cookie to crack!

I do understand that when all is said and done, it was never the best headline to show that driving down costs to very low levels or marginalising a private service can fracture a supply chain and augment underlying issues. 

(Something the NHS is having to battle with right now!)

These are extreme cases, but when the thinking isn’t joined up and decisions have been made way before the stakeholders have given any real input, with the cost being allowed to far outweigh the outcome, then Newton’s third law generally raises its head and something goes wrong!

It’s a shame, as I’m absolutely sure no one involved in any of the above ever intended to make things worse, but take it from someone who has a little efficacy to their claims, it isn’t about cheapest fee first, the service has to create efficiencies and improve outcomes, in many other ways.

I do feel sorry for the agencies, that again, have had to pay tender writers £20-30k to submit their forms and tick boxes, create subsidiaries and spend hundreds of hours preparing their back office for the extra administration, but with no real benefit to either side.

Unfortunately, the CCS framework seems to be a 90’s solutions to a 21st century problem.  

We live in such innovative times, surrounded by unbelievable technology and mind blowing solutions. So it just feels a little crazy to keep going back to the past when the answers are already here today,

“Simplicity is the highest goal achievable when you have overcome all difficulties.”

Fredrick Chopin

Dean Kelly, Co-founder of the RDLC – Europes largest private network of recruitment CEOs.


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