what is a cover supervisor?

As a cover supervisor, you teach students in Key Stage 3 or 4 between the ages of 11 and 16. Sometimes, a teacher cannot cover their regular lessons, and you take over. Unlike a teaching assistant who assists a teacher, you support a primary or secondary school teacher by teaching the lesson on their behalf. While most cover supervisors work with Key Stage 3 and 4 students, you sometimes teach younger Stage 1 and 2 pupils.

Since your primary role is supervising a classroom when the teacher is absent, you don't prepare lesson plans. The class teacher provides the teaching materials and items necessary for the lesson. While you are not actively teaching, having the necessary qualities and experience of a teacher is important. For instance, you require confidence to keep students motivated and focused on the lessons. You also assist pupils with tasks to ensure they keep up with the school curriculum even when the teacher is absent. A cover supervisor performs various duties depending on the class they teach and the subjects.

Being a cover supervisor requires flexibility since positions are short-term, and sometimes you work in different schools. For instance, you can work in public, private and independent or free schools. Sometimes, you also handle mixed-ability pupils like students with special needs.

Would working as a cover supervisor suit your flexibility and interest in working with kids? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a cover supervisor role.

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average cover supervisor salary

According to ONS, a cover supervisor earns an average salary of £23,588 per year in the UK. Entry-level positions start with a low salary of £21,644 annually. Cover supervisors who are familiar with their roles and have a few years of experience can earn over £30,989 yearly. Since cover supervisors work on a need basis, some schools have weekly payment options for cover teachers who work a few weeks in a year.

how to increase your salary as a cover supervisor

Cover supervisors’ salary often fluctuates based on the hours worked, experience and qualifications. If you specialise in teaching specific secondary school subjects, you will likely earn more as a cover supervisor. Having added classroom experience also improves your remuneration prospects. As a cover supervisor, you work on a need basis. That means you cover specific classes or lessons for teachers on leave. Sometimes, you give one lesson per day or up to three lessons depending on the school's requirements.

The type of school you work for also influences your compensation package. Public schools and government-sponsored facilities have limited budgets and pay lower rates. Independent and private schools set their salaries and can pay based on your expertise.

smiling woman helping two children with studies
smiling woman helping two children with studies

types of cover supervisors

As a cover supervisor, you can specialise in teaching a particular subject or offer specialised services. Some of the types of cover supervisors include:

  • special educational needs (SEN) cover supervisors: as an SEN cover supervisor, you handle students with special needs and mental health issues. For instance, you cover for teachers who teach students with physical disabilities like hearing and eye impairments, and you can also instruct students with learning disabilities.
  • maths cover supervisors: as a maths cover teacher, you provide cover for mathematics teachers in secondary schools and teach a lesson on their behalf. Since the class materials and lesson plans are prepared, your job is to train the students and help them with assignments.
  • science cover supervisors: if you have specialised training in sciences like biology, chemistry or physics, you can cover for science teachers. Your job will include performing science experiments with the class and teaching students various topics in the curriculum.

working as a cover supervisor

Working as a cover supervisor is an exciting role that requires flexibility since you often work in different schools for a short period. Let’s explore the daily duties, responsibilities and work environments of cover supervisors.


education and skills

Unlike a primary or secondary teacher, you don't require a qualified teacher status to work in a classroom environment. While you don't require an undergraduate degree, the following qualifications improve your prospects as a cover teacher:

  • certificate courses: pursue a Level 2 Award in support of work in schools to start your career as a cover supervisor. For training and professional development, complete qualifications like a Level 2 or Level 3 certificate for the cover supervision of pupils. While an undergraduate is not mandatory, having a diploma or a degree in any subject puts you ahead of the competition.
  • work experience: to become a cover supervisor, you require work experience with children of the relevant age. For instance, you need experience working with 11-year-olds if you plan on working in Key Stage 3 roles.

cover supervisor skills and competencies

Some of the qualities of a cover supervisor include:

  • flexibility: as a cover supervisor, you juggle numerous tasks and handle diverse subjects. For instance, you handle science classes in one school and maths lessons in another. Flexibility helps you change schools and work schedules on short notice.
  • communication skills: as a cover supervisor, you require fluent spoken and written English to communicate with students. You rely on communication skills to assist students with assignments and handle issues that arise in the classroom. Effective communication also helps you listen to student concerns and provide solutions.
  • problem-solving skills: as a cover teacher, you handle any emergencies that arise in classrooms. Having problem-solving skills helps you mitigate various issues that could escalate. Problem-solving skills are also useful when you are assisting students with various tasks.
  • enjoy working with young people: as a cover supervisor, you mainly work with young people. Your job will be challenging if you don’t have a passion for working with that age group. When you enjoy working with kids, you are likely to be compassionate.
smiling woman
smiling woman

FAQs about working as a cover supervisor

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a cover supervisor.

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