The whole world is going through a
very strange time at present and a time like no other. All schools have had to
adapt their way of working in order to reduce the risk of Covid to pupils and staff
members. Most schools have staggered start and finish times to allow for a
constant flow of students rather than an influx all at the same time.
Teaching has had to change as no
longer can children learn the way they used to. Much of the teaching should be
done outside if possible and equipment ideally limited and not shared with
others as much. Teachers also need to think about how they are going to
continue to teach students that are self-isolating. They may be doing this due
to a family member having the illness or coming in to contact with someone who
has the illness. Just because they have self-isolated once doesn’t mean that
they won’t have to do it again, potentially meaning they miss out on lots of
Most teachers have set up online
portals where they can upload work for children to do at home and then send it
back to them. This is not ideal but is certainly better than them missing out
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.
The role of
a head teacher can vary quite significantly depending on which school they are working
A school may
be without a permanent head teacher for a time but usually an acting head will
be put in place for this duration. In an academy, there may be one head teacher
across multiple schools so they may not be permanently based in one place. The
job of the head teacher is to provide professional leadership for the school. They
need to ensure that the correct procedures and guidelines are being adhered to
and manage how the budget is to be effectively spent. When schools return in September,
head teachers are going to have a very difficult job of managing the Covid-19 safety
procedures that will need to be put in place to try and ensure that pupils and
teachers are socially distancing as much as possible.
teachers also teach classes, this is often the case in smaller schools that
cannot afford to have too many additional teachers. The head teacher may be
available for cover of a class such as when the teacher has PPA time or to
cover sick leave.
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.