During your career as a teacher
you may find yourself in the position, either because you are between jobs or
because it fits in better with family life considering working as a supply
It is true that there are many
advantages to the flexible working patterns that come hand in hand with supply
teaching. For instance, if you have young children at primary school you can be
free to attend their school events without having to negotiate time off work.
It also enables you to fit work commitments around other family
responsibilities such as caring for an elderly relative.
Many schools employ supply
teachers to cover planned absences of their teaching staff which is generally
better for a supply teacher as you may know in advance the year group you will
be teaching and the subjects you will be required to teach. This is for some
more suitable than having an early morning call to cover absence due to teacher
illness however If unplanned cover is not suitable for you this can be made
clear when you register as a supply teacher.
Although most teachers will leave
planning and resources it is always good to be well prepared and have a
selection of open ended teaching resources with you that can be adapted to the
age group that you are required to teach.
teachers choose to work as a supply teacher either because it fits in better
with their family life especially if they have young children or are caring for
an elderly relative, or because they have just moved into a new area and are
unfamiliar with the schools in the new area.
advantages of the flexible working patterns that come hand in hand with supply
teaching suit many teachers. Should you have children of your own at school you
will be free to attend their school events without having to negotiate time off
work a difficult situation that many teachers face.
will employ supply teachers to cover planned absence of teaching staff. In this
case you may know in advance the year group you will be teaching and the subjects
you will be required to teach. This is usually easier than having an early
morning call to cover absence due to teacher illness. If unplanned cover is not
suitable for you this can be made clear when you visit schools to promote
One of the
main advantages of working as a supply teacher is that the administrative tasks
involved in contract teaching is not expected of a supply teacher. Setting and
marking of work is required and possibly some short-term assessments but report
writing and data collection is not usually part of a supply teachers remit.
think that working as a supply teacher involves the same skills whether you are
working in a small rural school or in a large urban primary but you would be
mistaken as the role varies greatly with some supply teachers preferring one
over the other.
If you are
asked to do supply teaching in a larger school the first difference you may
encounter is when you arrive at school finding your way around the building. If
you are new to the school this can be quite daunting and often requires help
from other members of staff until you become familiar with the layout although the
children are often helpful in this situation.
of staff in a large school may make it difficult to remember names and roles
but always make sure you know the Head Teacher’s name and who you need to
approach if you have any concerns. If the class teacher is in school when you
are covering their class, it is easier as they will be able to assist you when
you are familiarising yourself with the classroom and the class routines.
times if you are not on duty you may decide to visit the staffroom. Be aware
that in some schools, certain seats and cups are used by some members of staff
who do not take kindly to supply teachers using them, so check first – it can stop
a frosty atmosphere in the staffroom.
As a teacher
you should always try and leave your classroom so that someone else could come
in and teach if they need to. You should have lesson plans for at least the
next week ahead but ideally rough plans taking you up to the next half term.
You may not always know if you are going to have to have time off so it’s
important to prepare and be organised. If you do know that you are going to
have to have time off then you can get work prepared to leave for a supply
teacher. Ideally try and have a chat with the supply teacher so you can talk
over your lesson plans and explain what you want them to do. This also gives
them the opportunity to ask any questions they may have.
You may also
want to give them an overview of the class such as if there are any pupils they
need to keep an eye on or any that may need extra support.
If you need
them to mark work then make sure you ask them to do this. If it is a supply
teacher that has not worked in your school before it can be useful to write
them a quick list of useful information such as break times, names of other
teachers that teach that year group or subject and details of the teaching
assistant who will be working with them.
often complain of limited time and having far too much work to fit in their
normal working day. For this reason almost all teachers have to work evenings
and/or weekends to try and catch up. Time management is very important to
ensure that you spend as little of your free time working, as possible. It is
important to not only manage your time in your job, but also making sure that
you have spare time for yourself, to do something you enjoy. Not allowing
yourself time away from teaching, planning or marking can lead to stress and
anxiety and can have an impact on your career but also your home life.
are now given something called PPA time which is supposed to be time in the
classroom without the children, where they can mark or plan work. This can help
to give teachers a head start but it is often not enough time to complete all
of your work and you may find that it gets eaten up by other things such as
meeting with parents or planning assemblies.
Try and plan
days which you will work in the evening and days you will have off and do
something with your friends or family.