Don't do what I did - Supply 'hell' became my idea of heaven

20th February 2009 at 00:00

Supply teaching. For most NQTs it's a necessity, something a lack of a permanent job forces you into. For me, it's a godsend. Most supply staff talk about how they wish they'd find the perfect job, or indeed any job to take them out of supply hell.

My first job after qualifying seemed like a dream come true. I saw the ad, visited the school and was so impressed by the children and facilities that I sent my application in the same day. I read the Ofsted report, which made me certain this was to be the perfect school where I could start my career.

The first warning signs didn't alarm me. After all, perhaps there was a reason why form teachers didn't plan together? And surely there must be some pedagogical explanation for the silence the children were expected to work in? As an ambitious and excited NQT, I had all these creative ideas I wanted to try out, but was shut down with a strict policy on worksheets, silence in the classroom and communication that consisted of telling me how useless I was.

My dream became a nightmare. I started doubting myself and my ability as a teacher. I lasted a term and left the security of a steady income for the world of supply.

I'll tell you what I know now. I know a school can look great on paper and staff can present themselves as they wish to visitors. I know that what goes on in a school and how it is run can only be experienced from the inside. I know that you can only get a feeling for a school after teaching there.

Supply teaching offers opportunities to try out schools and find out what type of school you want to teach in. I've seen bad and great practice, and it has led me to a school where I can finish my induction with support and encouragement.

Anna Glarin is a supply teacher from London. If you have an NQT experience to share, email

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