Choosing to work as a supply teacher?

It’s not an easy choice for many, to be a supply teacher.  There are so many unknowns.  For one, there’s the uncertainty of earnings: there are some horror stories out there of supply teachers going for whole terms with no income, to those beliefs that there is an unlimited amount of supply work going, and you can name your pay for the day!  Certainly, there are things you can do to increase your chances of earning, but much depends on the length of the piece of string you’re holding.

Then there are the unknown children.  How will you manage behaviour without your ‘reputation’ backing you up?  In a school where you’ve spent many terms, the children know and understand your expectations.  In a school where they ask ‘Are you a real teacher?’ and ‘Why can’t you get a job?’, earning the respect of the children, and letting them know your boundaries within seconds of meeting them is going to take a little more effort!

What time does your school start?  Just one question you need to ask your consultant!And we move on to the unknown school.  Firstly, you have to get there.  And you have to make it ‘on time’.  What is ‘on time’?  You’ll not be quite sure for a while.  And where was it again?  Oh, Penny Cottage School on Close Lane, not Penny Close School on Cottage Lane you said?  Different bus route, different train connection, different car parking situation when you arrive!

Next, the timetable.  You can almost guess what a KS2 timetable looks like, but what about the others?  And when is assembly?  You say Y9 aren’t to attend today? Really.  And playground duty… No, I won’t even ask… I’ll assume I’m on duty… Cup of co… no, I thought not.

Last minute calls, double-bookings and cancellations that don’t happen until after you’ve arrived (pay?! Ha!), promises of Y1 and the realisation of a day with Y6 as an EYFS specialist.

No, I could go on.  But suffice to say, it ain’t easy!  What it is, is ever-changing,  fewer hours and a real adventure.  Go on, try it!


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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.