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The Experts Guide To Supply Teaching

  • yahoo
  • Published in Miscellaneous

Kickstart Your Career In Supply Teaching! 

Supply TeachingThis blog was partially updated on the 10th October 2017 for improved accuracy and comprehensiveness.


As you probably know, a supply teacher covers lessons across the curriculum on a daily basis or short-term period in the absence of the timetabled class teacher. Supply teachers play a crucial part in ensuring the continuous progression in students' learning during these absences. However, what makes a supply teacher truly exceptional? How can current supply teachers make even more of an impact in the classroom?

How To Become A Supply Teacher

As outlined above, a supply teacher is a regular classroom teacher. Because of this, teachers must hold UK Qualified Teacher Status which can be obtained by a PGCE, Schools Direct, School-Centred Initial Teacher Training and various other routes into teaching as outlined by the Department of Education.

When a teacher opts for working on a supply basis, the easiest option they can do is to register with a teaching agency. Agencies are the most common way for teachers to find local work. As a supply teacher, your agency acts as your employer rather than the school, therefore it is important to form a positive working relationship with them in the same way you would strive to achieve this when working in a school.

Building A Relationship With Your Agency

  • Always keep your agency regularly informed of your availability for work. That way, they won't contact you with work assignments that you are unable to do.
  • Changes surrounding your work life and personal life are always inevitable, e.g. you may desire to go back to working on a long-term or permanent basis or you may have a new role starting shortly. Keep your agency in the loop so they can offer an additional level of support should you require it.
  • Communication is key. An education recruitment agency has many educational practitioners on their books and many schools require support from agency staff to cover their absences. Because of this, an agency proactively will get in touch with suitable candidates for each assignment. If you are looking for daily work, it is a good idea to keep your phone ready for any morning calls. In addition to this, your consultant may send you an email and text message with some important information on too.

What Are The Benefits Of Being A Supply Teacher?

There are many fantastic benefits and advantages of supply teaching which make it a highly desirable and favourable career choice for any Primary School or Secondary School teacher.

  • On a supply basis, you can choose which days you are available for work, giving you control over the hours you can fit in in relation to your lifestyle and circumstances.
  • Most supply teaching agencies operate locally, so you can easily obtain work without the stress of having to travel too long a distance.
  • As a supply teacher, you can earn a good income without all the full-time commitments of a regular class teacher such as planning, parents' evening, tests/exams and other additional responsibilities.
  • Whilst working on a supply basis, you can get a genuine feel and understanding of schools you aspire to teach in should they be recruiting for long-term or permanent, full or part-time teaching work.
  • Work assignments in schools vary greatly. One day you could be covering a Year 1 class focusing on Literacy and the following day you could be teaching an outdoor PE lesson with students in Year 4. Having this variety enables you to gain a huge insight into a school, plus emphasising your versatility as an education professional.

What Occasional Challenges Do Supply Teachers Face?

Supply Teaching, like many other teaching jobs, has its challenges but these can be easily managed and overcome with experience, knowledge and support from your teaching agency. One common challenge that has been brought to our attention is teachers can sometimes struggle with short notice bookings. Sometimes last minute assignments are taken and teachers can have a limited time period to prepare themselves as well as their chosen method of transport. In order to stop mornings being a mad rush to the school, ensure that you are prepared by leaving your clothes out the night before and that you have your phone ready for when your agency contacts you. Despite this, some supply bookings are booked well in advance giving you extra time to prepare yourself ready for a day teaching.

As a supply teacher, it's unfortunately quite common for students under your watch to play up and misbehave due to the absence of the regular class teacher. Being a fully trained teacher, you have a clear understanding of behaviour management so make sure that when you enter a classroom you outline your behaviour expectations. Don't forget to ask your school contact as to what their rewards and sanctions policy is to maintain consistency. 

Expectations Of A Supply Teacher

  • Turn up early for supply bookings so you can be introduced to the school Cover Manager as well as any key staff members or the Senior Leadership Team.
  • Ensure that students are fully engaged with the work and complete all activities as outlined in the lesson plan. If student's complete all tasks before the lesson has finished, set them additional stretch tasks. 
    • If the lesson relies on the use of a textbook, is there another activity they could complete?
    • If there is homework to be set in the lesson, why not have them start it?
    • If there is neither a textbook or homework, get in touch with the school Cover Manager or the department lead to obtain additional work.
  • Report back to the school Cover Manager with any examples of outstanding work and behaviour as well as any issues you encountered. 

What's The Difference Between A Cover Supervisor And A Supply Teacher?

We asked a number of school Cover Managers as to whether there was any difference in terms of the responsibilities and expectations of a Supply Teacher and a Cover Supervisor. They outlined that there was no difference in terms of the job that they do but only down to qualifications. A Cover Supervisor is an unqualified teacher but with previous experience teaching in a classroom setting. A Supply Teacher has Qualified Teacher Status but all duties are the same.

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James Miller
Author: James MillerEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Digital Marketing Executive