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General Chat Thread, Should I go freelance? in General; ...
  1. #1

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    Should I go freelance?

    Hi there,

    I wonder if any of you could offer me some advice.

    Basically at the moment, I work for the LEA School IT Support team visiting 5 schools a week, doing 6 half day visits a week, one day on the Education IT
    Support Desk and one day in the office, doing admin/development work.

    I currently earn £23,708 a year, and am on the top point of Scale 6, ie no further way up.

    Now, several of my schools are considering employing their own technician in their own clusters, realising it could be cheaper, and have dropped hints they want me to be that technician. Saying I could earn more and they pay less etc.

    They all pay the LEA about £5000 a year for a half day visit per week for a "junior" technician.

    To put it in perspective, I bring in to the LEA:

    School / Visits Per Week / Cost

    School1 / 1 / £5000
    School2 / 1 / £5000
    School3 / 1 / £5000
    School4 / 1.5 / £7500
    School5 / 2 / £10000
    = £32,500 brought in to LEA.

    Two of the heads suggested I either work for them directly and they bill the other schools, or I go freelance and invoice them etc.

    However being employed by the school would end up with me taking on more schools to increase my income, so -

    School / Visits Per Week / Cost

    School1 / 1 / £4000
    School2 / 1 / £4000
    School3 / 1 / £4000
    School4 / 1.5 / £6000
    School5 / 2 / £8000
    = £26,000 - 25% employee costs etc, = £19,500 salary.
    = £26,000 if Freelance,

    So already I would have to take on another school to earn £30,000 freelance or £22,500 salaried.

    I know my current wage is pretty good in the current climate for Level 1/2 support in a primary school, I do everything except setup new servers. Email and
    internet connectivity etc is done by the LEA.

    Looking at other jobs I would be lucky to get £18k for the same level of support, and to get £24k I would need to know things like Exchange, SQL Server, Web
    Technologies and more indepth server stuff.

    I am aware I need to invest in further qualifications. You could say I have just had a wake up call, I am 30 and with public sector pay currently frozen and
    capped at 1% I doubt my wages will ever increase. There is no way up on the LEA team, or within the council to be honest.

    But there are pros and cons of going freelance -

    Pros-
    • Better Money, money to invest in qualifications, certificates etc.
    • Own Boss



    Cons-
    • Schools could shop around and get it cheaper elsewhere.
    • Lack of council support and benefits, ie sick pay, pension (if I had one!), redundancy, conditions, access to colleagues knowledge etc.
    • No backup when things go wrong, although the only thing I can't really do is migrate a new server over. But the School could buy two days LEA Support.


    If a few schools are considering this already, it wont take long for others to follow suit, and the LEA School IT team may cease to exist.

    I have learnt a lot at this job during the past 7 years, however I haven't had much in the way of official training. Just odd bits here and there, and most
    of it I have learnt by doing it every day etc.

    I would appreciate any thoughts. The 5 schools I visit are very supportive of this though.

  2. #2

    nephilim's Avatar
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    Dont forget your national insurance and tax if you freelance, not to mention liability insurance and an accountant cost.

    You may find you are worse off if you go freelance, however if you work for one school directly, and then use that school as the base and have your services between the others, the main school pays your wage, the main school also pulls in the money. Win win for them.

    You could ask for £26k, and the school charges what the others are paying now, the school makes £6k a year they would be happy with that surely

  3. Thanks to nephilim from:

    jsuk2000 (8th December 2011)

  4. #3


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    I'd add:

    Pros:
    Tax relief on travel, equipment, working at home (tax relief on portion of rent, phone bills, internet)
    ability to move around, take on better paid jobs
    it saves the school money, national insurance, pensions contributions

    cons:
    lack of job security.
    pension

    Personally I'd go for it!

    Edit - I think NI is about 6quid a week self employed, and insurance isn't too much if less then a million £ liability

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    jsuk2000 (8th December 2011)

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    Quote Originally Posted by nephilim View Post
    Dont forget your national insurance and tax if you freelance, not to mention liability insurance and an accountant cost.

    You may find you are worse off if you go freelance, however if you work for one school directly, and then use that school as the base and have your services between the others, the main school pays your wage, the main school also pulls in the money. Win win for them.

    You could ask for £26k, and the school charges what the others are paying now, the school makes £6k a year they would be happy with that surely
    Or they drop the price slightly from what the lea charge so they completely cover your costs only and the other schools buy in.

    Also in this case if one school drops out you are not loosing money.

  7. Thanks to glennda from:

    jsuk2000 (8th December 2011)

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    Thanks, yes I am aware of the tax/NI/accountant implication. £26k route sounds good, but I think the schools are looking to cut costs.

    Yes, the school said on average employees cost them 25% in ongiong costs. So £25,000 is actually £31250 to the school etc.

    RE: £6k, I've got an awlful feeling the school isn't allowed to make a profit like that, although I am sure they would love to!

    Well it seems the only way up at the moment, maybe get some more information from the schools etc. To my advantage I have never had a run in with a school, 4 of them I have been at for 6 years!
    Last edited by jsuk2000; 8th December 2011 at 10:58 PM.

  9. #6


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    Quote Originally Posted by jsuk2000 View Post
    Thanks, yes I am aware of the tax/NI/accountant implication.
    yes - definitely get an accountant, they save more than you pay them and you will be safe in the knowledge that the inland revenue won't come knocking at your door and demanding money because you missed something. Luckily my dad is my accountant, so it costs me even less

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    jsuk2000 (8th December 2011)

  11. #7

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    so anyone else gone down this route?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jsuk2000 View Post
    so anyone else gone down this route?
    only part time, when my hours were reduced from my regular job I just did some extra stuff on the other day/weekends.

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  14. #9

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    Thanks for your replies, heres a boring spreadsheet of the options I am considering etc.

    school visits proposals.xls

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    Not completely relevant but one thing you could suggest to them is that you would setup a buying consortium saving them money by buying bulk etc

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    jsuk2000 (8th December 2011)

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    One of the other things to check is your existing contract. Your LA may have a clause in there preventing you from leaving to work for one of the schools you are presently supporting in the same or similar role ... effectively, they can stop you going and poaching schools that they are earning money from. A number of commercial support firms do this.

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    jsuk2000 (8th December 2011)

  19. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by glennda View Post
    Not completely relevant but one thing you could suggest to them is that you would setup a buying consortium saving them money by buying bulk etc
    If the buying consortium operates from a single school you have to be careful about procurement rules.

  20. #13

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    RE: Contract. Good point, I will dig it out.

    However ironically I was originally a 3rd party technician for the same schools, and they "poached" me on to their team a few years ago!

  21. #14

    nephilim's Avatar
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    What are the ongoing costs you have posted up???

    I asked a bursar and he said any ongoing costs would be...

    "heating, electricity, equipment" which at most is no more than £800 per staff member per year in a school that is an 80 acres site!

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    What are the ongoing costs you have posted up???
    Employers pension contributions,nat ins and a perecentage of the costs of running a HR Dept.

    @jsuk2000
    I am employed my one school on a term time only contract and charged out on a cost recover basis at £2800/half day slot which includes my salary, car mileage (about£150/month) and on-costs so its def cheaper for the schools.

    However, i imagine your on a full-time contract - primaries generally only pay term-time contracts - so that would need checking.

    There's no practical problem in one school selling your services on - they just transfer the money once a year and no-one ever knows or is botherthed about small print

    Going freelance will give you slightly more money but, as you've noticed, times are hard and I guarantee your services will be the first to go

    Si

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