It is a hard adjustment from classroom teacher to supply teacher. There are substantial differences to the job both within and outside the school. It is important to be prepared for these changes so that you can make the most of your experience as a supply teacher.

Outside of schools

Be wary of money-oriented recruitment consultants. There are consultants who are falsely positive and try to sell your their service without your best interests at heart.

Try to avoid companies that recruit for sectors outside of education. They will be less sympathetic to the needs of a teacher and are more focused on filling positions rather than getting the right person for the right position.

Watch out for hidden charges and always check your payslips. It is easy to accidentally overlook a charge, as a result of companies not being transparent.

Avoid companies that still use paper. It is entirely unnecessary in this day and age and is an indication that the company does not move with the times. It will slow down payment and could leave you in a situation where you have to waste your time chasing money you are owed.

Try to get a good idea of the system the recruiting agency uses with their umbrella company and how you will get paid. Some companies need things signed off by a team leader, the school, and a system before things are sent off to the umbrella company. If you are invoicing them, find out the system and time it takes to receive payment. Always get this in writing in an email so you can hold companies accountable. The more complex their system and processes are, the less of a chance you have of getting paid on time.

Join a union. When doing supply, you don’t have the same sense of security you have within a school. Your agency might not be fully aware of what is and isn’t acceptable in terms of practice..

If you plan on doing long-term supply, it might be worthwhile looking at CPD opportunities offered by the agency. Gaps on a CV might hurt your credibility and the likelihood you are hired by a school.

When in schools

Do your marking! It is important to be aware of the school hours and not leave early. By leaving early, it results in the teacher doing more work than is necessary. Always write ‘supply’ at the top of each piece of work you mark, so if there are any inconsistencies in their books, the school has a way of explaining to any external monitoring.

Have something planned for each key stage in all the core subjects. Although schools are supposed to provide you with resources, they are not always available. Make sure impromptu lessons do not require any prerequisites and are adaptable to the needs of the class.

Be adaptable. You can’t expect things to run smoothly the whole time. Be prepared for the fact that you may have no TA and there may be numerous timetable changes throughout the day.

With all these things taken into consideration, the transition from classroom to supply teacher will be much easier. It may be challenging at first, but the job will be very rewarding at the end.