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Careers advice from Theodora Griff

Permanent switch

I have been doing supply teaching - when I can get it - for the past three years. I would love a permanent post but I'm told that heads automatically reject applications from teachers who are doing supply.

Well, I have certainly never done that. Supply teaching is no easy option and provides a great deal of professional development. I have always had a lot of time for people with this kind of background. Are you presenting your experience positively in your applications?

Let's look at what you gain from working in this way. The supply teaching has given you flexibility and versatility; allowed you to observe a variety of classroom practices and learn from them; and improved your classroom management skills as a result of dealing with a wide range of different students, from the too-compliant to the downright difficult.

You have gained self-reliance, learned to work cooperatively with colleagues in different types of schools, are able to deal with difficult situations (and difficult people) and have experience of a wide range of year groups.

In short, you have become a much more effective teacher than you were before, and are very grateful for these opportunities.

Are you setting all this out in the letter, right at the beginning, getting it all in before you even mention the word "supply"?

Talk to the head who is going to write one of your references and ask him or her to include the phrase "would appoint without hesitation if I had a vacancy".

Put in your letter that schools ask for you by name from the agency (only if this is true) and that you had repeat placements because you were a valued colleague.

In other words, don't be apologetic: supply is great preparation for the day-to-day of teaching.

Meet Theodora Griff online on the TES Jobseekers forum or in person at a TES Careers Advice Service seminar or individual consultation. bit.lyuWhqN2.

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