Teaching in the UK: supply teaching and its advantages

Many people believe that supply teaching is simply for those who cannot get a teaching job. Others think that only those who can’t cope in mainstream schools opt for supply teaching. While this may be the case for a minority of teachers, the reality is that many colleagues find this option more enjoyable. There is a magnitude of reasons to go into supply teaching, and while it’s understandable to presume that this is not a long term career, we’re here to show you how it can be.

What type of supply is best for me?

As supply teaching comes in many different forms and shapes, the next thing you need to do is get an idea of the type of supply you wish to undertake. This primarily depends on whether you crave stability or variety. The most common type of supply teaching is day-to-day supply. You will receive a phone call either the night before or the morning you are due to work, and they will ask you to go to a school for one day. It’s likely that the teaching will be varied, outside your key stage or subject area, and you will simply do one day of work covering an absent member of staff. Other types of supply are more long term, where you may be asked to complete two or three weeks work at the same school, usually in your chosen key stage or subject. You could even be asked to work for a full term, and would be paid an additional salary in exchange for the planning and marking you undertake.

What are the benefits of becoming a supply teacher in the UK?

There are plenty of benefits to supply teaching in the UK and the below points we feel are stand out reasons to consider supply teaching:

1. Flexibility

Firstly, supply teaching offers colleagues a flexibility that regular classroom teachers don’t get. Ordinarily, you have to take your holidays at restrictive times, often paying more money for the privilege. With supply teaching, you can choose to take holidays as and when you wish. Not only that, but if you want to take a day off for a special occasion such as your child’s birthday or a long weekend away, you can. Many supply teachers choose this career to allow themselves spare time to complete postgraduate studies. You may even choose to simultaneously take up private tutoring, boosting your earnings while strengthening your teaching skills.

2. Work-life balance

One of the major complaints of teachers all over the world is the workload that can’t be completed in allocated planning and assessment time. With supply teaching, your days are simple. You usually arrive between 8 and 8.30am, and are out of the door by 3.30pm, leaving you the remainder of your evening to pursue other pastimes or simply relax with your family. You have no marking, no planning and no extra events to attend. Your spare time is your own.

3. Variety

One of the many advantages of supply teaching is the variety the job can bring. Each morning, you don’t know where you might end up and the kind of students you may encounter. While some may find this a little daunting, it’s exhilarating to teach outside your area of expertise. Whether you’re a maths teacher leading creative lessons such as art and drama, or a Year 6 teacher working with Year 1, you’ll be sure to enjoy this change. You may even find a hidden talent you didn’t even know about!

4. Getting to know schools

Another great reason to get into supply teaching is to get to know the schools in your local area. If you are new to a city, or have been teaching abroad, it can be overwhelming trying to find a job in a school that suits you. Supply teaching is a fantastic way to explore schools in your area, and decide which ones are an appropriate fit for you and which are unsuitable. It is also a great way to network and build a bank of colleagues that you can call on to share resources and expertise, should you venture back into a regular teaching post.
If you love teaching, but hate the additional time, effort and stress spent on planning and assessing students, then give supply teaching a go. It may even help you fall in love with teaching all over again.

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