What is a supply teacher?


Supply teachers have a pivotal role to play in schools when other teaching staff are absent, helping to minimise any disruption to a child’s education.

Essentially, the role enables schools to maintain a regular teaching schedule while permanent staff are away through illness, when attending training courses or any other factor which may cause absence.

It’s a popular route into teaching for Early Career Teachers (ECTs) as it enables them to scope out different schools and gain experience while deciding which school is right for them.

Others opt for supply teaching for its flexibility, as they can pick when and where they want to work, meaning they can opt for roles that meet their availability.

Where are supply teachers needed?

Supply teachers are required when permanent staff are away or when temporary vacancies exist and will plug gaps at primary, secondary and sixth form level.

This can be challenging as there is a need to adapt teaching methods to new classes regularly, while also switching between subjects and age groups.

However, supply teaching can also be incredibly rewarding as teachers will know they are playing a key role in helping all pupils to achieve their potential.

Depending on how much a supply teacher wishes to work, they could be employed by several different schools at the same time.

It’s worth noting though that different schools will have differing gaps in their timetables that need filling, so working requirements will vary by institution.

Levels of responsibility

Supply teachers have the same set of responsibilities as permanent teaching staff when they are employed, meaning they’ll need to prepare lesson plans and deliver the national curriculum.

They’ll also need to mark work and provide feedback where required, while also providing support and encouragement as and when necessary.

Those in longer temporary contracts may also need to help out with out-of-school projects such as excursions and field trips, as well as with exam preparation.

Given the nature of the role, supply teachers also need to ensure that their methods are up-to-date and that they are across any developments in the curriculum.

This will ultimately help them to secure roles as they will be able to demonstrate the skills and desire that is required for life in the classroom.

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