Gail Larkin, a headteacher for 20 years and the vice president of NAHT shares some anecdotes on supply teaching jobs as both a career and as a stepping stone. Gail spoke at the Randstad Education Seminar in August 2013 and shared some valuable insight for supply teachers, mentioning how supply teaching can be a great career not only for those who need the flexibility that comes with the role but also for those who are searching for a permanent role.
Video transcript: taking a supply teaching job while you look for a permanent position.
When I thought about supply teaching, I thought my first bit is about the job. I think it can be looked at in two ways. There are some people for whom doing supply work is their career. They are career supply teachers, supply cover supervisors. They really enjoy it and I think that's the most important thing about it is that it's something you want to do. It can be great because it can be flexible, it can fit in with your family.
I know people who have got other careers. Writers, for example. I know someone who's trying to write a book. This fits in really well with her other work so she can come and earn a few bob teaching in schools and then go back to her writing. It can be very rewarding. In fact it is always I think very rewarding. It's very challenging, but it's also quite varied.
Others very much see it as a stepping stone into another career. At lunch I was talking to two nice young NQT’s who have tried to get permanent posts and that hasn't happened yet, so the best thing you can do is go out and get school experience and as a Head Teacher, I would look on very favourably about anyone who's gone out and done supply work, because I'm not really brave enough even now I don't think to go to different schools, work with different people, work with different children almost sometimes on a daily basis. I think you're very brave, but I think it's going to be great for those who do see it as a stepping stone
"it's about being enthusiastic at whatever you're going to do that day"
The one thing I would say about it though is that wherever you are in your career, you've got to be positive about it. I've just been interviewed for some filming upstairs, and I think one thing that I've said about everything that has happened in my career as a teacher is enthusiasm. It's about being enthusiastic at whatever you're going to do that day because if you're not, the first people who spot it, that there's somebody here under duress, are the kids. They will see straight away either I've got somebody who wants to be here or I've got somebody who actually doesn't, and they're probably just earning the money and children will be on to that ASAP.
You mustn’t see it as second best. I know you want a career in a permanent post, but use it as a very positive experience. I'm going to really learn from this and make the best of it. If you don't see it like that you'll hate it. You'll hate getting up every day and going into school. Try and be positive.
Supply teachers, if you've been in that school and worked there, you've got such an advantage. You can make it personal to that school by referring to things that have happened in there that you've seen, the assemblies were great, you like the ethos, staff were friendly in the classroom. The year group leader was very supportive to you and the Head was wonderful. That's what you write. I'll write that bit for you.
To be honest, I think you're at a huge advantage and I can't remember the last time and this is gospel truth I appointed somebody who I either hadn't done their teaching practice in my school or who hadn't come in and we thought was a great supply and would love to have them there. I can't remember the last time somebody just applied, I interviewed and appointed them. I can't remember that happening when I think of my staff now. They either did their teaching practice there and I thought they were great and gave them a job, or they've come in and I've liked what they've done. As I said, the Head will ask the staff, see what they like. Make yourself known to the staff and they think oh he's great to have around the school and the kids love him, but put in there, make it as personal to that school relevant, because we get loads and loads of generic applications. What separates you from the one? I could make a mistake from that because I might miss something.