Getting a full time teaching
contract with a local authority is usually top of the list for many graduate
teachers but for those with family commitments working as a supply teacher
could be a much better option as it is easier to plan your working hours and
days around your family.
The first thing you will need to
decide is whether to seek work through one of the teaching agencies or whether
you are going to source supply teaching posts independently. Most local
authorities will only consider supply teachers who are signed up to an agency,
but sometimes smaller schools are more flexible in their approach. Although the
salary when working as a supply teacher for an agency is usually less you will
be guaranteed regular work and can determine the days you are available for
For many teachers the plus side of
supply teaching is two-fold firstly you are in control of the days that you are
available for work so for instance you can fit in hobbies or holidays to suit
you and your family, the second advantage is that you will not be responsible
for much of the paperwork that many teachers find onerous and time consuming
although some basic assessment at the end of a teaching day will usually be
If you would like to work in an
education setting but do not want to work with young children it may be worth
exploring a career in further education. This is any study that takes place
after secondary school but outside of higher education (university).
In further education, the teaching
does not always happen in a classroom. It can take place in community centres,
workplaces and private training centres and could involve teaching a variety of
learners including young people and adults who are returning to education.
Courses can range from basic
literacy and numeracy skills to apprenticeships and technical qualifications
such as BTECs and can be full time, part time or taught in a block.
The benefits of working as a
further education teacher are mainly down to the positive attitude of the
students to their learning. As they have chosen to embark on a further
education course they are more likely to work hard and successfully complete
the course with your support along the way.
If you want to train or retrain to
teach in further education some employers will let you start teaching without a
qualification because you can work towards one as you go. This also means you
will be earning a salary straight away. A bursary may be available for certain
subjects such as Mathematics, Science and Engineering and can help with living
costs whilst training.
Mobile devices have become so
commonplace now that the majority of children either have their own device or
have use of an adult’s one. As the apps that are on these devices may be
educational it is important that children are still given the opportunity to
immerse themselves in real books and reading not only for the enjoyment it brings
but also because primary school aged children are expected to reach a good
level of reading ability by the time they enter key stage two at the age of seven.
This can be problematic for some children who may be reluctant to read not only
books, but any printed material and it can also be a concern for parents and
teachers who are often searching for ways to inspire and encourage reading.
Learning to read may not be easy
for some young children so one approach is to show them that there is a purpose
to reading whether it be reading the instructions to a favourite game or
reading a recipe to make a cake. This type of incidental reading can encourage
children to engage in reading without them being aware that they are doing so.
Another way to encourage a
reluctant reader is to share children’s magazines and comic books together so
that the child may be inspired to read material about a hobby they enjoy or an
interest they may have. The biggest challenge for any teacher or parent is to
resist putting pressure on the child to read but rather show them that reading
is fun and an activity to be enjoyed.
Working as a supply teacher whether
in a school that you are used to or in a school that is through an agency your
responsibilities are not always made clear apart from the obvious duties of
teaching the class and making sure that safeguarding guidelines are followed to
the letter. Although some schools have policies on what they expect from a
supply teacher many do not but if you want to be offered work on a regular
basis it is important that you not only create the right impression when you
first start but also fulfil the duties expected of you in that particular
Many teachers whose classes you
cover will set work for the children to do and expect this to be carried out as
per their guidance. This is especially true with older pupils who often have a
fixed curriculum to cover in a given timeframe. Should this be the case it is
important that the supply teacher carries out the teacher’s instructions as much
as possible. At the end of the day a brief note to the teacher outlining how the
day went is a valuable way to communicate.
There may be times when a supply teacher is
needed to cover an unexpected absence and in this case work may not have been
set so it is a wise move to have lessons prepared that can be adapted to the
age group you are teaching. It is essential that all work is marked according
to the school’s marking policy checking with a senior member of staff if anything
is not clear.
It is a fact that primary aged
school children are regularly given homework from school with the amount that
they are given increasing as they move through the school but does this
homework actually make a difference to their academic ability or is it given
out despite some teachers questioning the value of it. Another issue is how
much of the homework is completed by the pupil and how much additional support
have they received from parents and carers meaning that any tasks completed at
home cannot then be used as a reliable method of assessment.
The reasons for setting the
homework need to be studied carefully in order to answer these probing
questions. Some homework is set to give the pupil an opportunity to practise a
skill that they have been working on in class such as a new mathematics method
or spelling practise, but it is clear that some homework is set simply because
the teacher has been told by superiors to regularly give out homework. Practising
new skills is a worthwhile use of homework time as there may not be sufficient
time in the school day to do this. The homework in this case is beneficial and also
serves to give parents an insight into the curriculum that the child is
studying. The child can be encouraged to explain the homework to their parents
and this in turn will be a valuable learning tool.
The problem arises if the child is
unsure about the task set by the teacher and the parents or carer do not
understand the task. This is quite a common issue as was experience by many
parents when children were having to be home schooled for lengthy periods. It
is always a good idea if there are issues that the teacher is made aware of the
difficulties so that they can be addressed at school during lesson time.
Some pupils enjoy doing homework
especially if the task is enjoyable. This may be something like asking parents
or grandparents about their childhood memories or looking for mathematical
shapes around the home even playing a game can be used as a homework task. It
really is up to the teacher to try to make homework a pleasure rather than a
chore so that pupils are continuing to learn after the school day is over and
do not need to be forced by busy parents to complete unhelpful tasks.