Questions of supply and demand

29th October 1999 at 01:00
If I don't get a job, can I do supply teaching in my induction year? Technically, this is possible, though periods of supply teaching need to be for a term or more to count towards your induction period. Shorter periods will not count towards your induction year and you can only accept these for a year and a term after qualifying. Thereafter all teaching must count towards induction.

* What if I don't know whether a supply job will last a term? Supply teaching only counts towards induction when an NQT has agreed in advance with the headteacher that it will. So only settled periods of one term or more can count. If after being employed as a supply teacher it becomes clear that the job will last for a further term or more, you can ask your head to agree to it being part of your induction period from then on. But induction time cannot be backdated to when you started.

* Is it a good idea? Supply teaching can be very tough for the inexperienced and there may be little support available for the NQT who has trouble managing their classes. It could also be extremely complicated to arrange your induction through a series of different appointments and you risk not satisfying the requirements. Schools may also now be reluctant to take newly qualified teachers on supply if they bring expensive induction commitments. Your employment rights are also notoriously less well protected when you are a supply teacher.

* How do I get supply work? Supply agencies operate in some areas and may provide some support and security. Certain teacher unions are prepared to recommend particular companies. Local authorities may operate lists of teachers available for supply but some will not include newly qualified teachers. The best way to get work may be through existing contacts in schools.

* What will I be paid? Rates vary but without experience you are unlikely to be paid more than around pound;75 a day by an agency. Since they frequently charge schools a flat fee, you may be more profitable for them to employ than an experienced teacher they have to pay more. But this only applies if the schools you go to are happy with your work.

* Where can I get advice on supply work? Your college, union, local authority or teacher supply agencies (see the TES jobs section) may be able to help. One experienced supply teacher, Martin Dougherty, has written 'The Art of Surviving in Supply Teaching' (David Fulton, pound;11). In this he maintains that newly qualified teachers are in some ways better prepared for supply work than those who have held a post for some time, since the flexibility demanded is more like their recent experience of teaching practice than of being settled in a teaching job.

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