Supply Teaching: A Positive Note

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Everyone recognises that face people pull when you say you work in Teacher Recruitment. That judgemental one that suggests they don’t agree with what you’re doing, but they just don’t want to say it out loud.  I’ve only worked in this industry for two years but it’s already become apparent how much stick both Supply staff and their agencies get. ‘Oh are you just working day-to-day because you can’t get a full-time job?’ or ‘Don’t you miss out on money doing it that way?!’ are just some of the wonderful questions that we all get asked on a daily basis, so I just thought I’d take one for the negatively bashed team and shed light from a different perspective.

Sometimes it’s hard to get your foot in the door; maybe you are newly qualified, retired or have children at home? Maybe you want more experience or can’t commit to the long working hours? Or maybe, just maybe you actually enjoy teaching in different classrooms every day? Becoming a supply teacher early on in your teaching career can expose you to a fantastic range of schools and teaching styles, with the added bonus of being a useful stepping stone to a permanent post. How many other industries can you take one or two days in before you decide whether it’s for you? How many other jobs allow you to decide whether you really want to work on a Monday? Being in supply gives you the opportunity to genuinely organise your work life balance; whilst still looking after your children and pursuing other passions. It’s this that entices plenty of people in and keeps plenty of people happy, so what’s with all the angst?

It’s probably something to do with the agency horror stories. You arrive; wide-eyed, job ready, CV in one hand, DBS in the other, and you leave feeling triumphant about getting a job. One month later you’re throwing your phone across the room, repeating that you don’t want to travel 30 miles to a school that you don’t like working in. The problem for me is that I can’t stress enough how not every company operates this way, trust me when I say that there are plenty of good guys to even out the bad. Yes I have made those awfully annoying one lesson cover calls, but I’ve also spent plenty of time speaking to staff that have secured jobs. These jobs have come from temporary placements in schools, schools that we introduced them to.

Then there’s the “if you are hired directly by a school you will get far more money than if you were to join an agency” chat. Whilst this is typically true (in most industries may I add), it is the nature of the position and what comes with it that explains why there’s a difference in pay. As a temporary member of staff, you are not expected to complete work out of school hours, attend parents evenings or mark the classes work. You can turn down jobs that are offered to you at any given time and can even cancel mid placement, without hesitation. Although earning less money is never at the top of anyone’s agenda, it gives many the chance to make a living, put tea on the table and pay the bill’s in any type of circumstance.

Then there’s the misconception that they aren’t good enough to work full-time in a classroom. Only the other day I was reading a piece that suggested children were missing out on vital educational lessons due to the quality of external Teachers. There are always going to be people who are better at jobs than others, those that strive to work to the best of their ability and those that stand out like a sore thumb. It’s a crime to penalize individuals that make a difference every day just because they don’t have a full-time permanent position. Who are we to tarnish the work of people who get up every day and help our children, just because others have made mistakes?! Supply offers the chance for everyone to witness how candidates perform under pressure, how well they teach and how passionate about their job, so making the presumption that they aren’t doing it by choice is quite frankly a slap in the face.

In my opinion, our staff are and always will be fantastic . If a Teacher is ill then a class must be covered, it’s as simple as that. Using agencies means that sickness hiccups can be sorted quickly and efficiently, and within minutes an individual can be straight into a classroom. No disruption to their learning, and no distractions for others that are trying to teach. It’s easy to point the finger at someone when all you’ve read is a one-sided story, but let’s all take a minute to appreciate the individuals that continue to benefit our children’s lives.