Education Secretary Damian Hinds has launched a clampdown on agencies charging schools “excessive” fees to recruit staff and advertise vacancies, in a drive to help save money and enable teachers to focus on what matters in the classroom.

Many schools rely on supply teachers at some point in the year to cover short and longer term vacancies, or pay for adverts to recruit the staff they need. Some agencies charge schools costly finder’s fees if headteachers want to make supply staff permanent and do not set out how much they are charging on top of the basic wages paid to supply staff.

To help combat these costs, the Secretary of State has announced a free website has been launched to advertise vacancies, which currently costs schools up to £75 million a year. This website will include part-time roles and job shares to help keep experienced teachers working in the classroom and make schools attractive 21st Century workplaces.

In another step to tackle unnecessary costs, Mr Hinds will launch a new nationwide deal for headteachers from September 2018 – developed with Crown Commercial Service – providing them with a list of supply agencies that do not charge fees when making supply staff permanent after 12 weeks.

The preferred suppliers on the list will also be required to clearly set out how much they are charging on top of the wages for staff. This will make it easier for schools to avoid being charged excessive fees and reduce the cost burden on schools of recruiting supply teachers through agencies.

Today’s announcements follow the Education Secretary’s pledge at the National Association of Head Teachers’ annual conference in May to work with schools and drive down unnecessary cost pressures so schools can get the best value for every pound they spend and bring in the best staff.

The vacancies website will initially be launched in Cambridgeshire and the North East, with a view to rolling it out nationally by the end of the year.

By 2020, core school funding will rise to a record £43.5 billion – its highest ever level and 50% more per pupil in real terms than in 2000 – and the introduction of the National Funding Formula will address historic disparities in the system.

Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of steps taken by the department to help schools deliver the best value for money and ensure resources can be targeted at the frontline.

This includes national deals, which can save a typical school 10% on energy and up to 40% on printers, piloting new ‘buying hubs’ to bulk buy and help schools get best value for money from procurement as well as a network of advisers to working with schools and provide practical support on how to use their budgets more effectively.