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Supply Teaching- facts, figures and why teachers do it


What is supply teaching?

Qualified, Newly-Qualified and Non-Qualified teachers can teach in State, Private, Free and Academy Schools in the U.K. (Some Free Schools and Academies and all Private Schools accept teachers who are not qualified) Teachers can teach for a day per week, full weeks and months at a time, and even move from temporary to permanent teaching positions.

If you love the school and the schools love you… Teachers enjoy supply as it’s super flexible, well paid and popular. Over the last year, primary and secondary schools have struggled to recruit full-time teachers, spending £821 million on supply staff. Indeed, many teachers are leaving their permanent jobs in favour of the flexible alternative – supply teaching.

Reasons for supply teaching

Reasons for Supply Teaching

A recent survey showed that over 27% of supply teachers chose to go into the role because they are unable to find a permanent teaching post, and nearly 20% went into the role because it fitted in with their family/life circumstances. As well as being a flexible job, supply teaching can operate in tandem with other work and home arrangements. There are many other reasons for going down the supply teaching route.

Why do people get into Supply Teaching?

  • Variety: Spending time in different schools gives you the opportunity to teach a wide variety of subjects to a more diverse range of students. It allows you to teach part time, for example 2-3 days per week, freeing up time for other things, like studying, private tutoring or looking after your own children.
  • Test-drive: Supply teaching allows you to try out a school or area. This can be especially useful if you are contemplating applying for a permanent teaching position and are unsure about the school’s environment and you want to get a better understanding of the school, the teachers and the ethos of the school and children.
  • Retirement: Apart from being a good way for pensioners to earn extra money, supply teaching allows for teachers to ease out of leaving their profession. Many men and women return to teaching but do not want the hassle of marking, the pain of parents evenings or the lack of autonomy that often comes with full time teaching, so supply works best for them.

Supply teaching experience

Teaching Experience

A survey from The Independent suggests that;

  • Nearly 60% had more than 10 years of permanent teaching experience, whereas only around 11% had more than 10 years of supply teaching experience.
  • Over 38% had less than 2 years of supply teaching experience, whilst roughly 15% had less than less than 2 years permanent teaching experience.

Day Rate for Supply Teaching (London)

Daily Rate

The below points match the above table in relation to supply teacher pay and experience.

  • New to supply teaching
  • A few years experience supply teaching
  • Many year experience supply teaching
  • Specifically trained and experienced

There are main routes into supply teaching

Main Route

  • More than 65% of supply teaching placements are done through agencies.

So with so many people using agencies for supply teaching work; what are the benefits?

  1. The number of jobs available and variety of levels and location. (You can move home and still supply teach)
  2. Support – you can call an agency, well some of them, and they’ll help you. We do!
  3. Contact and social (supply teaching and private tutoring can be lonely- we’re always on hand and we have loads of supply teaching socials)
  4. Pay – supply teaching compared to other jobs is really well paid
  5. Tutor House- you can review your lesson and your supply work instantly online- which builds good relationships with schools.

Why do permanent teachers leave their profession?

‘‘4/10 new teachers leave their profession within the first year of qualifying’’ (According to the Guardian)

One of our supply teachers said: “I left teaching because, as much as I loved being in the classroom and working with students, the amount of marking, data entries, reports, staff meetings, parents’ meetings, lunchtime interventions, after school interventions and endless unmanageable deadlines just meant that there was no possibility of a normal work-life balance.

I think for any job to be truly rewarding you need to feel as though you are able to be working at your best, but the pressures and deadlines meant that, for me, I always felt like I was only just on top of things, rather than doing a great job – and it’s horrible to feel that way. So, I took back control of my life and became a private tutor and supply teacher instead, good times!”

Below are a few of the most common reasons why teachers leave their profession:

  • Work-load:  Recent surveys have indicated that the most prevalent reason for leaving teaching is the amount of work the job requires. Obtaining a satisfying work-life balance can prove to be a challenge for many teachers, with many failing to participate in the hobbies that they once loved. Upon accepting a position in a school, the teacher is also taking on the responsibility of fulfilling the sizeable amount of paperwork which comes with the job.
  • Ofsted inspections: Regardless of Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) warning against it, many teachers try and predict the date of inspections in a desperate bid to be prepared. The associated stress and anxiety causes many to doubt the nature of the educational system and often results in teachers permanently leaving their teaching posts.
  • Lack of funding: “What used to upset me was talking to people who were bright-eyed and bushy tailed, hugely enthusiastic about coming into teaching and wanting to do well for disadvantaged youngsters, saying to me that they were put off teaching in the first few years because they weren’t adequately helped and supported by leaders’’ (Sir Michael Wilshaw’s quote in the BBC).

    The dire financial situation many schools find themselves in can heavily impact on the teaching body’s morale. Whether it is a failure to equip students with the right amount of books, or whether proposed school trips have to be cancelled, the task of dealing with the failings can weigh heavily on teachers and can cause unwanted stress.

  • Exam results: The pressure put upon the teacher to achieve a respectable set of results can prove overwhelming, especially if they are responsible for a struggling class. There are also those who would claim that the education system is now geared primarily on achieving acceptable exam results rather than giving the children a love of learning.

Tutor House works with a number of schools. We have many supply socials and evening events. You can sign up to our next one here and read more about supply teaching here.

Questions? No problem, just call or email;

T: 0203 9500 320