Supply teaching is a great way for teachers to readdress that work-life balance. Or for those new to the industry it’s a way to dip your toe in before committing to a permanent position.
If you can forgo the regular salary and the routine, there are loads of great reasons to become a supply teacher. Our expert has pulled out nine of the best ones.
Reasons to become a supply teacher
While most teachers can only plan their holiday at set times to fit in with the school year, supply teachers are free from such constraints. So you can benefit from off peak travel prices and avoid crowded destinations. But that’s not the only type of flexibility that supply work offers. “I have days off for personal reasons when I want them like my fiance’s birthday, to get carpet fitted, and for long weekends away,” says Saucisson, supply teacher, and TES forum user. “If already know what I’m doing for the day, I arrive at school between 8.00am and 8.30am and leave at 3.30pm I enjoy time off in September when there isn’t a big demand for supply teachers.”
Planning, target-setting, assessments, and meetings are all part and parcel of a teacher’s daily work. But supply teaching can provide relief from these onerous tasks, says Jan Christopher, supply teacher. “Supply teaching disentangles you from a lot of time-wasting meetings, paperwork, and planning,” she says. “It also relieves you from competitive environments, nagging, sniping from insecure colleagues, and protects you from harassment from other staff and parents.”
Already convinced? Find out how to become a supply teacher
Most teachers stay in schools for years, in fact, some never get to experience life in any other school. While this may offer familiarity, security and other benefits, some supply teachers feel that they could be missing out. Toby Swallow, supply teacher, says, “I’ve been to lots of different schools, met some lovely members of staff and have gained a wider range of experience than many full time teachers.
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. David Bennett, retired teacher, did just that and ended up teaching in a special school for over five years. “I hadn’t worked in a special school before but felt I’d like to put myself up for the challenge,” he says. “My non-negotiable terms were Mondays and Fridays off, minimum written plans, limited parents’ evenings, and five days off a term to fulfil other commitments.”
If you’re thinking of moving to a new area, why not ‘try before you buy’ with a stretch of supply 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.
6. Test drive
Just like taking a new car for a test drive before you decide to commit to a major purchase, supply 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.
7. Return to teaching
Maybe you’ve had some time out from the classroom after having children, or perhaps you have 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 supply teaching can provide you with this opportunity.
Your teaching style can become very insular if you stay in the same environment. Supply work provides you with the chance to talk to other teachers, 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.
9. Earn as you learn
Embarking on a MA could be just the challenge you need, and supply work an effective way to support your studies, particularly if your course is education related. Lorna Tobin enrolled on a part-time MA in curriculum, pedagogy and assessment and finds that teaching and learning go hand-in-hand. “Schools are a wonderful source of information,” she says. “I’ve also managed to complete homework tasks with the insight and experience of other teachers, and through my classroom practice.”
For more advice visit our supply teachers' page.