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Pros and Cons

Updated: Feb 15



Supply teaching is an excellent way to get into the classroom and gain experience but it is not for everyone. Whether you are an ECT, an experienced teacher looking to take a less stressful role or coming out of retirement to support the cause, you may not have considered the ins and outs of supply work. Below, I’ve compiled a list of some pros and cons to give you an idea of the general ups and downs that are in supply.


Advantages:


Flexibility: -


From our interviews and chats with staff applying for supply roles, flexibility came up so often. People’s lifestyles change on a regular basis. Whether it be having children, looking after grandchildren or a partner has changed their job role. The ability to pick and choose what days you work from week to week was highlighted as a huge advantage to supply. You can do one day one week to a full week the next if you wish. Add in the fact that you can choose how far from home you wish to travel each time also made supply a more viable option. At Supply&Teach, we target local schools for those wishing to work close to home and won’t push schools at you that are not in your radius.


You control the situation: -


If you go into a school and don’t feel comfortable you can come home at the end of the day and request not to go back. Remember, it’s your choice at the end of the day. We ask you if there are any schools that you do not wish to work in and wouldn’t promote you at these schools or put you forward for a role there.


Less stress: -


Another big one here! No planning on day to day and shorter-term roles. No staff meeting lasting late into the afternoon, no twilights, no parents’ evenings and much less marking.

Leave work early: -


Coupled with less stress this one – you get to leave work earlier compared with the regular staff. No more driving home in the dark. You get your evenings back for you to enjoy without the endless paperwork and extended marking expectations.


Gain experience: -


Even an experienced teacher is learning everyday – I guarantee it! Supply work enables you to pick the year groups you want to work in. Gain experience working with children of all ages. Hone your skills a little more by staying in that key stage. You’ll get to work with different teaching assistants, outside agencies and be led by headteachers with lots of different visions for how they want their school run. You may want to gain more specialist experience such as SEND or just try it out to see if it suits you. Again, the choice is yours. You may have just qualified and you’re not sure whether it’s UKS2 or EYs you want to work in. Supply will give you the opportunity to try different age groups.


Regain your confidence: -


Unfortunately, working full-time in a school, particularly if the school isn’t necessarily as helpful as it could be, can be demoralising and can really knock your confidence. Again, we have spoken to teachers who have highlighted just this. Through supply, you can take your time getting back into teaching. You can try different schools without the commitment until you find ‘the one’ or you have regained that confidence.


Networking Opportunities: -


Supply teaching offers excellent networking prospects. You interact with a wide range of school staff and administrators, which can lead to valuable connections for future job opportunities or collaborations. Building a strong network can be advantageous in advancing your career.


Competitive Pay: -


In recent years, the pay rates for supply teachers in England have become more competitive, making it a financially-viable option. Additionally, some supply agencies offer benefits such as holiday pay, pension schemes and signposting to professional development opportunities, making it a well-rounded choice for teachers or teaching assistants. By the way, we do all of that!


Better work-life balance: -


Taking all the above into account, you can clearly see how supply teaching allows you a much better work life balance compared to regular full-time teaching work. No matter what stage of teaching you are at, supply definitely has its many advantages.


Considerations: -


Uncertainty: -


The nature of supply teaching means that work can be unpredictable. There may be periods of high demand, but also times when assignments are scarce. This irregularity in work can pose a challenge for those who prefer stability and routine. If your lifestyle allows for this flexibility then this isn’t a barrier.


Classroom Adaptability: -


Stepping into a new classroom with unfamiliar students and curriculum can be daunting. As a supply teacher, you need to quickly adapt to different teaching styles, behaviour management strategies, and school policies. Strong classroom management skills and the ability to build rapport with students become essential in maintaining a positive learning environment. Having said that, children are children, no matter what school you are in and a strong set of behaviour management skills coupled with school’s own policies can actually be supportive rather than daunting. Plus, once you’ve been into a few schools, adapting becomes second nature.


Limited Benefits: -

Unlike permanent teaching positions, supply teachers may have limited access to benefits such as sick leave, maternity/paternity leave, and other employment perks. It's important to factor in these considerations when weighing the pros and cons of supply teaching. Although, also worth noting is that if you are in the same post for 12 weeks, you become entitled to certain benefits that are comparable with permanent staff under the Agency Worker Regulations.


Professional Isolation: -


Supply teachers often work independently, without the same level of collaboration and support that regular teachers experience. This isolation can be challenging, as you may miss out on opportunities for professional development and the sense of community found in a long-term teaching position. Speak to your agency as they often have training opportunities they can signpost you too. We also have a Supply Staffroom where you can get to share your experiences with others or just let off steam!


Conclusion:

Supply teaching in England offers a unique set of advantages and challenges. Whilst the flexibility, diverse experience and professional growth opportunities make it an appealing choice for many educators, the uncertainty and potential isolation must be considered. If you thrive in a dynamic environment, enjoy adapting to new challenges, and have a passion for teaching, supply teaching can be a fulfilling and rewarding career path in the education sector.


Remember, the decision to pursue supply teaching ultimately depends on your personal preferences, circumstances and career goals. By carefully weighing the pros and cons, you can make an informed decision about whether supply teaching is the right fit for you. If you’d like to chat more about your situation and whether you think supply work is for you, get in touch with us on 01332 412903 or at info@supplyandteach.org

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