Supply Teaching

Why supply teaching?

Teachers choose supply work for a whole host of reasons based around their personal circumstances at the time.  But understanding why it might be an option for you can seem like a big decision, especially since in most cases you cannot be guaranteed work, and if there is no work, you don’t get paid.  So for what reasons might you decide that temporary teaching work is for you, and what do you need to consider?

Work load
It’s often pointed out that a teacher’s work load is rather heavy, to put it mildly.  Supply teaching offers, at worse, a substantial reduction in planning, marking and other activities associated with ‘out of the classroom’ work, particularly if working on a day to day basis.  Sounds great right?  In reality it depends on the situation.  Day to day supply in nearly all cases requires no preparation at all on your behalf, but from my own experience this can make for some very difficult lessons.  Work should always be left by another teacher, so if you find yourself without any at the start of the day, find a regular member of staff that can help you understand what needs to be achieved.  You may get to leave at the end of the day knowing you don’t have any work to do at home, but while you’re there, the pupils at the school deserve the same effort and attention from you as your own class would.

Flexible working
As a supply teacher, you can choose when and where you want to work.  Just so long as the work is available.  You can discuss your availability with your agency who will accommodate and do their best to place you in areas of your choice, even schools of your choice but this will likely limit the amount of work you can do and be paid for.  Can’t work five days a week? Again, no problem, but remember you will only be offered work when it is available.  Being flexible is a two way thing though, as whilst agencies will do what they can for you, they are also looking for staff who can help out on days when a lot of work is available.  It can be difficult at certain times of the year meet the requests for staff from all the schools on an agency’s books, and they will look favourably on teachers that can help them make sure their schools are fully staffed.  Our advice to maintain a good relationship with your agency in this respect is to simply be honest about what you can do and when, whilst giving plenty of notice about what can’t do.

Working in different schools can provide experience in ways a permanent position can’t.  Everyone has their own ways of doing things in teaching, which usually incorporates elements picked up from other teachers along the way.  What better way to expand your knowledge and range of techniques then, then to work in a lot of different schools and meet a lot of different teachers?  Not only does this improve you as a teacher, but the experiences you gain could be put to use elsewhere such as your own study.

Education / Training / NQTs
Having gained QTS, you do not have to stop with your own education to become a teacher, but balancing a full time course and a permanent teaching role can be extremely difficult to manage.  Supply teaching, particularly long term positions can help you achieve the career / education balance.  NQT’s can also use long term supply work to complete their induction year.  Speak to your agency about your education training requirements to see how they can help you make the best of it.

Need to slow down before retirement?
If you’re coming to the end of your career but simply aren’t ready to walk away from it all yet, supply teaching can help you to wind it down slowly.  Choose your days, decrease your availability as time goes by and don’t leave the profession until you’re ready to.

Life is full of change, sometimes unexpectedly, so if you need to relocate then supply teaching is a good way to start again in a new area.  Find out what the local schools are like by working in them and talk to the staff, they will soon tell you about your new surroundings.  It’s also the quickest way into the classroom, with most permanent positions starting after the summer, Christmas and Easter breaks against supply which could be available almost immediately.

Returning to teaching
If you’ve had an extended period away from teaching, getting back into the classroom can be harder than it should be.  Recent experience can be achieved with supply teaching and also help you get back up to speed with the pace of the job.  Schools will be more confident about employing a teacher currently working in schools so talk to your local agency about how they can get you back into the swing of things.

Get a better understanding of how supply teaching can work for you by talking to an agency near you.  Our Supply Directory will show you who your nearest agencies are, so give them a call.  

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