Seven reasons to consider relief teaching

Casual relief teaching (CRT) is a great way for teachers to readdress that work-life balance. Or for those new to the profession, it’s a way to dip your toe in before committing to a permanent position.

Tes Editorial

Reasons To Consider Relief Teaching

Why Should I Consider Relief Teaching?

If you can forgo the regular salary and the routine, there are loads of great reasons to become a relief teacher. We spoke to the experts who picked seven of the best.

1. Flexibility

While a full-time job may offer greater security, relief teaching grants more flexibility to fit around your life outside the classroom, such as childcare responsibilities.

Alison Hislop, who became a CRT after going on maternity leave, says: “After teaching for 10 years, I had my first baby. I started relief teaching when he was 10 months old, enjoying the flexibility that it has given me to pick and choose my own work days.”

With more flexibility comes more autonomy and more freedom in the choices you can make. As a CRT it's your decision when, where and how often you teach. On top of this, you aren't subject to the same workload as a full-time teacher, so no more planning, target-setting, assessments and meetings, which are all part and parcel of a teacher’s daily work. 

Alison adds: “I don't have the commitment of after school meetings, parent meetings or report writing. Relief teaching means I can be a mum and teacher.”

Marianne Hupalo echoes this point. The retired teacher says relief teaching is a great way to “use years of experience to teach much-loved subjects without the stress of extra paperwork and institutional change."

While most teachers can only plan their holiday at set times to fit in with the school year, CRTs are free from such constraints. So you can benefit from off peak travel prices and avoid crowded destinations. 

“As a couple, we can choose how many days we work and don’t work," Marianne adds. "Also, it’s great to travel using the extra income – outside of school holiday periods."

Check out our 10 top tips for casual teachers

2. Variety

Most teachers stay in schools for years. In fact, some never get to experience life in any other school. Your teaching style may become insular if you stay in the same environment. While this may offer familiarity, security and other benefits, some relief teachers feel that they could be missing out. 

Relief teaching offers the opportunity to meet new people, working in new surroundings and in different types of schools. It offers a new variety of challenges every time you step into a new classroom.

Working as a CRT provides you with the chance to talk to other teachers, to see how they teach, plan and assess, and open your eyes to other ways of doing things. It’s also likely that at some time you’ll come across less desirable practices that you’ll wish to avoid. 

3. Retirement

Some teachers find it hard to say goodbye to the classroom, and like the fact that they can keep their hand in teaching through supply work, but, importantly, on their terms. You can do as little or as much work as you choose, and wherever you please. Or you could approach local schools to see if they could benefit from part-time support. 

Marianne, who has been relief teaching for the last year, says: “It was the right time to retire and meet other family commitments. I teach secondary classes and I have chosen to limit availability to the school I left full-time teaching. It is a lovely way to ease into the new role while students and teachers still know you.”

 “If you are considering retiring from full time teaching to take up relief teaching, start making enquiries with your current school system while you are still working full time,” the New South Wales teacher adds.

“This is important because it is easier to make the transition using your school email and linking your past teaching record to your new casual position (as your employment at your school will cease). A new contract with the systemic employer will be arranged. Give lots of time for all of this to happen!”

4. Relocation

If you’re thinking of moving to a new area, why not ‘try before you buy’ with a stretch of relief work there before you make your decision. You’ll get a good insight into community life, facilities, problems and advantages through your work with children and their families. Other teachers can also give you the essential low-down on the area, so can be a great source of vital information.

5. Test drive

Just like taking a new car for a test drive before you decide to commit to a major purchase, relief teaching offers up the chance to work in different schools so that you can make a more informed choice before settling into a permanent job.

6. Return to teaching

Maybe you’ve had some time abroad or perhaps you tried your hand at a new career and are now thinking of making a return to the classroom. 

For any school to take you seriously, you’ll need to show that you have up-to-date experience, are aware of current developments and initiatives in education, so time spent in classrooms to update and refresh your skills is crucial. Not only that, but you’ll also want to make certain that returning to teaching is the right decision for you and relief teaching can provide you with this opportunity.

7. Earn as you learn

Embarking on a masters could be just the challenge you need, and supply work an effective way to support your studies, particularly if your course is education related.

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