Is supply teaching right for you?

Many teachers want to reclaim some time back for the finer things in life, such as having time to do grocery shopping, reading a book not written for children or even being able to go to the toilet when they need to go. Yes, it really is all glamour being a teacher!

So, when that time comes, teachers may wonder what else is out there. And the question of whether supply teaching is the right option will be among the first considerations.

If this is you, here are a few insights to help you with a very important decision – is supply teaching the right option for you?

The ultimate question to ask yourself honestly is, do you still LOVE teaching but just want to spend less time on all the “other”?

If the answer is yes, supply teaching or tutoring could be a good option for you.

But if you are becoming disillusioned and/or are more excited by a change, then maybe not.

Advantages of supply teaching:

  • Option to remain in the classroom working with children but less commitment to fulfil the school expectations (planning, meetings, clubs, parents evenings, report writing, assessment data drops, pupil progress reviews, etc etc.)
  • Flexibility to take on (or decline) the jobs or schools as you see fit.
  • Easy to take time off without question or work on the days you choose.
  • Once you have completed the cover for the day and marked work, you are free to leave – job done.
  • No additional responsibilities, such as subject leadership, etc.

Disadvantages of supply teaching:

  • Rates of pay vary considerably and if you are an upper pay scale teacher, it will almost certainly be lower than daily equivalent pay in school.
  • Daily rates incorporate “holidays” so you won’t receive wages out of term time; sick pay entitlements will vary, as will pension contributions.
  • You will need to be okay with parachuting into different schools and taking classes with children you won’t know, adapting to different school policy / expectations.
  • Staffrooms will vary – you won’t have established relationships moving school to school. Some staff will be friendly; some staffrooms will be isolating.
  • Children may not treat you the same as a supply teacher; behaviour could be more challenging because there’s not established relationships.

For teachers who love to teach, supply work can offer a good balance. You get to do the good bits of the job – teaching and working with children – with minimal planning and marking, and none of the “other stuff” expected of schoolteachers. But, you will need to be comfortable walking into a classroom and delivering lessons from plans varying in detail (or teaching off the hoof with no planning left). This will suit some people more than others.

If this is not for you, it is far better to recognise this ahead of time. Leaving teaching does not have to end up substituting a class teacher role for a supply teaching post – there are plenty of alternative options.

The #1 most important thing is that your next role is one that makes you happy – and if you can gain the finer things in life to reclaim a better balance, all the healthier, too.

Discover your options, find out about career coaching by messaging here.


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