Some supply teachers choose to approach schools directly and ask them for supply work. Others, especially in more built-up areas, work through agencies. Indeed, many schools will only work with agency teachers, so you may not have a choice! You do have to have confidence in your supply teacher agency however. Interview them, as much as they will interview you. You wouldn’t dream of accepting a long-term position in a school you had never visited before, and similarly, you should take care when signing up to an agency.
Look for a Quality Mark ‘Supporting quality supply teaching’ awarded by the Department for Education and Skills. However, do not be put off if an agency does not hold this award, it does cost to apply for one.
Rather than feel as though you’re choosing an agency, it may feel like they are actually choosing you. You may have to go through an interview process, will certainly have to have a CRB Check done, your QTS/qualifications/List 99 and DfE number verified, filed a medical report, and had professional references followed up. This can often be quite daunting, but they are all quite straightforward, and confidential, processes.
Many agencies provide optional Pension and Holiday Savings schemes. Ask if you are interested.
Check how the agency pays. Some pay weekly, while others monthly, in arrears too.
Building a relationship
Many supply teachers find that the more they keep in touch with their agency, the more work is offered to them. It is not simply a case of your agency going through an alphabetical list of supply teachers in a morning, giving each a call until they find someone in the vicinity who is available to work. They need to maintain a good relationship with the schools, by offering quality, enthusiastic teachers… show that you are by calling. Call them to tell them you particularly enjoyed your time at Nitsville Juniors today, and, given positive feedback from the Head at Nitsville, they are more likely to match you up next time there’s work available.
Working through an agency generally means that you are responsible for your time sheets, both getting them authorised by schools, and getting them to the agency at the end of the week in order to be paid.
Tax and National Insurance contributions are deducted from your wage by your agency. If you work with more than one agency, you may have to nominate one as your main source of income for tax purposes. It is a good idea to give HM Customs and Excise a call soon after the end of the tax year and ask them to check through your tax details.