Primary supply teaching offers qualified teachers a flexible working arrangement with greater variety than a permanent school placement.
It can be a great option for those wanting to dip their toe into teaching after qualifying, for anyone wanting to work more flexibly around their family or for teachers looking to wind down into retirement.
Being a supply teacher means less responsibility when it comes to lesson planning, a greater variety of classrooms and the chance to plan your own work schedule.
But, as with any career move, there are a few things you need to consider before jumping in the deep end.
For anyone thinking about becoming a supply teacher, it can be hard knowing where to start, which is why we’ve put together our top seven tips for getting into primary supply teaching.
Primary supply teacher qualifications
If you’ve found yourself reading this article the chances are you’ve already got the necessary qualifications to be a supply teacher.
You’ll need to have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), so if you’ve already gained your qualification then you’re good to go in terms of primary supply teaching.
If you’re in the middle of your studies you may be wondering if supply teaching is a good option for you.
Many newly-qualified teachers use supply teaching as a way of dipping their toe into the water before taking on a permanent placement with a school, while others choose to return to supply teaching after completing their statutory induction, working on supply for the remainder of their career’
Whatever your position, so long as you have QTS, then primary supply teaching is an option available to you.
Do your research
It may sound obvious, but there’s lots to consider before diving into supply teaching, so do your research in advance.
Only you will know if supply teaching is the right choice for you personally, but on top of that you should also consider what type of schools you want to work in.
Know your boundaries when it comes to challenging behaviours from pupils and research each school thoroughly before accepting a placement.
That said, if you’ve picked a good agency – more on that later – they should have taken time to get to know you and your criteria before offering placements.
Heading into any school for the first time can be daunting, so make sure you know a bit about them in advance.
Learn to be flexible
A huge benefit of supply teaching is that it offers a more flexible working arrangement.
However, some teachers can take this a bit too far the other way and only make themselves available on certain days at certain times of the year.
If that works for you, great, but it pays to be flexible in terms of when you are able to work, so that you can take advantage of last-minute job offers.
All teachers would love to be able to book a holiday during school time, but this limits the placements you are then able to accept, so be aware of this.
You should also communicate your availability clearly with your agency.
While there are, of course, many benefits to becoming a supply teacher, it can be tough switching schools regularly, so confidence is key here.
It takes a great supply teacher to handle a class full of pupils they don’t know, and you’ll to be able to handle any issues quickly and effectively.
There may well be incidences where you arrive in a class and no lesson plan has been left for you, so the ability to think on your feet is key too.
Therefore, not only is it important that you are confident supply teaching is the right career path for you, it’s also essential to have confidence in the classroom once you get there.
Find a good primary supply teaching agency
There are many supply teaching agencies out there, so you need to find the one that suits you and your needs best.
Besides offering out school placements, a good agency should provide support and opportunities for career development too.
It’s really important that whichever agency you choose takes time to get to know you as an individual and what stage of your career you’re at.
Whether you are just starting out, looking to work more flexibly around your family or winding down into retirement, everyone’s needs are different.
At Exeter Supply Partnership we pride ourselves on working closely with both schools and teachers to find the perfect fit for both.
We aren’t a one-size-fits-all agency and, as such, strive to offer a positive experience for schools and teachers alike.
ESP is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company which we believe makes us different from the majority of supply agencies out there.
In addition, career progression comes as standard when you work with us and we offer free or subsidised professional development from the CPD programme run by Exeter Consortium.
For more information about starting your supply teacher journey with us please contact us on 01392 927 171.