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How to Become a Supply Teacher in the UK

Derek Cullen
25 Oct 2022
5 min read
How to Become a Supply Teacher in the UK

Recent studies show the highest number of teaching vacancies in the UK since the School Workforce Census began. According to gov.uk statistics, the rate of new entrants is higher than those leaving the teaching industry but the census points to a large shortage of teachers. But what might this mean for you and other supply teachers in the UK? It means there is a large number of vacancies and there has never been a better time to become a supply teacher!

In this article, we take a look at how to become a supply teacher.

The Rising Interest in Becoming a Supply Teacher in the UK

It’s true, the demand is rising for teachers and the falling number of applicants only exacerbate this need. However, interest in becoming a supply teacher is also on the rise and it’s easy to see why the supply role is so appealing.

While supply teachers may not receive the same perks as full-time staff, there is great interest in the role and the potential benefits it offers to teachers. You get to do what you love, and there is also a lot of flexibility with supply teaching which is very attractive. You can literally choose the days and hours that you work, while being able to dictate precisely how much of the year you wish to work. It’s not for everyone, but working as a supply teacher can strike the perfect balance for many different reasons.

You obviously have reasons of your own (given that you are here reading this post) and you likely know the required qualifications etc. but in case you might be unsure, let’s take a look at the requirements needed for this role.

What Experience and Qualifications Do Supply Teachers Need?

You need to acquire “qualified teacher status” (QTS) through a relevant undergraduate degree or postgraduate certificate. This means you can qualify to become a supply teacher with something like a QTS in science (or similar) alongside an undergraduate degree. Alternatively, it’s possible to finish a postgraduate certificate in education or complete initial teacher training at a designated/recognised institution. But you then also need some experience…

Most supply teachers get their first work experience role in the final year of their qualification. You simply register for potential opportunities and many future supply teachers end up working as a teaching assistant during this time.

What Type of Supply Teacher Would You Like to Be?

There are different types of supply teacher and most people end up deciding between working at either a primary or secondary school. You need to choose wisely at this point because primary school supply teachers are sometimes required to teach 5-11 year olds every subject on the curriculum. Secondary school supply teachers specialise in just one or maybe two subjects and this role might involve a bit more adaptability such as marking essays or lab work.

It’s also possible to choose between long and short term work. You basically know where you will be each day with long term work and this can sometimes lead to offers of full-time employment. With short term work, you get to decide exactly when you work and this will likely involve being in and out of different schools which can be great for experience and building confidence early on.

How to Get a Supply Teacher Job in the UK

The truth is, teaching agencies are good at finding opportunities for supply teachers. But do you want to know another truth? Job opportunities are plentiful for supply teachers and it’s just as easy to find jobs from your smartphone, all while getting paid more than with agencies. You can also avoid potential delays with this route and receive direct communication from the school recruiters rather than going back and forth like a yo-yo with the agency.

But how can you get started with the process?

Sign up to Zen Educate. Start by having a look at the teaching jobs near you and sign up for free:

Zen Educate is transforming how schools find great teachers.

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