A supply teaching job is not usually the first port of call when it comes to teachers landing their first full-time teaching positions. Those who are newly qualified teachers might wonder whether or not it is a worthwhile route to pursue, given that there are so many myths and general hearsay surrounding the role as a prospective route into permanent teaching. We will take a look at why a job in supply teaching can be an excellent route into a teacher's first full-time role and an overall successful career in education and dispel some legends surrounding this profession.
Why supply teaching can help a career in education.
One of the biggest myths about supply teaching is that it is quite difficult to secure a full-time role once teachers have been bounced around as supply teachers for quite awhile. While there is a general notion in the field that supports this to some degree, it is not a universal truth. Supply teachers who work through recruiters like Randstad often have resounding success when it comes to securing full-time roles: with the agency touting over 1,000 former supply teachers becoming assigned to permanent roles.
This is often because supply teaching is seen as a way of gaining valuable experience in a rather short period of time. By concentrating this experience into more short-term projects, teachers are able to hone their classroom management skills in a variety of different environments. This is a sure fire way for teachers to prove their classroom leadership abilities to any prospective employer who may be considering them for a permanent role.
An often overlooked aspect of supply teaching is the high degrees of autonomy that supply teachers are given in comparison to full-time teacher. There is simply no reason for teachers to get involved in playing office politics, which allows them to focus more clearly on their goals, ambitions, and things they need to work on before transitioning into full-time teaching. There is also no need for supply teachers to attend those early morning or late night meetings and, in some cases, they may not be required to complete marking for the absent teacher.
However, teachers need to keep their responsibilities and priorities in check. While they may not be required to provide full coverage for a permanent teacher in terms of marking, they will still be required to deliver effective lessons and engage students accordingly. This is sometimes easy to forget when NQT’s are becoming more firmly grounded in their teaching abilities. By keeping the overall objective of permanent teaching in mind, it is an easy balance to restore.
Supply teaching will immediately expose any shortcomings that NQTs have, which will allow them to brush up on any professional development needs before they approach the interview table. This can potentially help nervous candidates to shake off pre-interview jitters and allow them to confidently present themselves as well-rounded teachers, who have grown in their professional abilities throughout their time as supply teachers.
Unfortunately, there is a norm within the education sector that supply teaching has limited value to professional development and this is something that is been perpetuated throughout the ages. Nothing could be further from the truth. When teachers are exposed to a variety of situations where they are using the fullest extent of their capacities, then they are gaining valuable insight into not only the profession, but also themselves and where they require further improvement. This learning experience alone is something that holds considerable value for everyone involved in education: not just for teachers, but also for the administration who will later employ them.
Perhaps one of the most important benefits to supply teaching is the unrivalled flexibility it offers. Supply teachers are free to plan their own holiday time within term time, should they be in between assignments, and are also free to seek further development after leaving a particular assignment where something was identified. They are also usually able to identify low periods, such as mid-August through to September, where permanent teachers are usually refreshed and revived after the summer holidays. Supply teachers are also free to place themselves in a variety of schools depending on their own location. This helps prevent the need to relocate for a permanent position, which may be required at a later date when teachers choose to settle into a permanent role.