A short guide on where to find supply work, how to cope with the work once you have it and maximise the opportunities supply work can give you.
Looking For Supply Work
The following websites are all good recruitment sites that can help you to find employment in supply work: e.teach.com, jobsite.co.uk, and connex-education.com. It is also worth writing to schools with a CV and letting them know you are available; reliable supply teachers who can work regularly and become a familiar face at a school are very highly valued.
Benefits and Disadvantages
Supply work can offer the fulfilment of teaching but with greater flexibility to balance work and home life. It could give you the opportunity to decide if teaching is still the career for you and if you later decide to return to a permanent contract, you'll have experience of a wide range of schools and students, which can be attractive to prospective employers. It also provides a continuity of work with a choice of short or long-term bookings during staff shortages.
However, it is important to consider that schools with greater difficulties tend to use a higher proportion of supply staff, so it is common that you may find yourself in a stressful environment. Unfamiliarity with the behaviour policy of the school could make it difficult to apply discipline as your status as a teacher may be challenged, making it difficult to manage a class of pupils which you have no prior knowledge of. The schools' staffroom politics can also make daily life tricky - something as simple as using the wrong coffee mug can cause problems. It is important to take both the positives and the negatives into account.
Steps towards meeting the challenges of supply teaching
- Do your homework: Plan your lessons, be aware of the health and safety risks and procedures, be firm and fair in rewards and sanctions whilst seeking active opportunities to praise, keep accurate records of any challenging behaviour and be able to employ preventative strategies to diffuse conflict in the classroom, use the school support systems.
- Ensure good classroom management: Be organised with well-structured lessons, set some basic ground rules, make your class sit in accordance with the seating plan, keep a register of all the pupils for each lesson, develop a good rapport with your pupils, display a caring attitude and avoid any physical contact with pupils unless reasonable force must be employed.
- Arriving at your new school: Familiarise yourself with the school's behaviour policy , use a map of the school or ask for an escort to your first lesson or registration, get to know a senior member who you can approach for support and make sure you are well equipped for lessons with correct registers, merits, detention slips and incident report forms
Returning to a Permanent Post following Supply Teaching
If you ever decide to return to a permanent post following supply teaching, it is a good idea to explain your reasons in your letter of application and at interview. Highlight the positive aspects of supply teaching and how it has contributed towards your development as a teacher. Also make sure that your CV is carefully edited and that you feel confident and prepared. Some of our factsheets may help: