Tips for Supply Teachers – Getting Work

Much of the stress for supply teachers begins before they reach the classroom.  In this series of articles looking at top tips for supply teaching, we look at practical ways to reduce this stress. By Sharon Wood.

New to supply teaching? New to the area?  Arrange to visit schools you would like to work in (think Key Stage, subject specialism, location, accessibility).  This give you an opportunity to find out more about them, introduce yourself (treat it as an interview walkabout) and ask how they source supply teachers.  If they use agencies, ask which is their preferred provider – and why!  The why bit is important: it may be that they have an ex member of staff on their books that the school always uses, in which case, it may be a case of dead man’s shoes trying to get work there!

Supply teacher top tips for getting workI hear from many supply teachers who don’t talk to their consultants enough. Keep in touch with them! If they’re not speaking to you, they’re not thinking of you, not learning about you and your availability, experiences, skills and wishes.  Try and ensure you speak to your consultant once a week at least.  When they get a position to fill in that wonderful school down the road from you, you need to be in the forefront of their minds. Make sure you know when it is convenient to call however!  Agency phones are red hot with calls from schools before 10am and between 3pm – 5pm especially!

Be honest with your agency.  They need to place the right teachers in the right schools in order to be successful from both a client and candidate’s point of view.  If you don’t want to work in ‘that’ school, tell your agency why!  The more an agency knows about you, the better position they are in to place you in a school where you can flourish, and be invited back to!

Be willing to try new schools, and different year groups.  Are you used to working in Reception? Year 2 children are not that much older – give them a shot!  Your recruitment consultant will love that you’re flexible, and willing.  Make sure you feedback to them on how you found it.  Ask for help if you need it: if you want to try a different Key Stage, they may be able to place you on a Key Stage Transition course in the near future.  Did you hear about that school with the dreadful reputation up the hill?  Don’t want to work there?  Go on, try half a day!  Ask your consultant to perhaps place you there as a TA to gain experience first perhaps.

Have you cracked it? Do you get as much work as you want, in the schools you want to be in?  Let us know your top tips for supply teaching woes below, on Facebook, or on Twitter!

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About Sharon Wood

Sharon Wood, aka NuttySupplier, launched the forum at in 2005 whilst on supply. Having worked as a primary teacher for too many years, I chose supply teaching as a career, in order to achieve a good work / life balance.