Full time teaching or flexible supply?
At Headline we meet teachers at all stages of their career - from NQT’s who have yet to find the perfect school, to seasoned teachers who are looking to wind down to part time. Regardless of where you are in your career, we are fully aware that making the jump from full-time teaching to supply work is a big one, and something that requires a lot of prior thought. Before writing this post, I quizzed one of our very own Headline teachers, Jenny, on her experiences of full time teaching and how it differed to day to day supply. Many of the issues raised by Jenny reflected those voiced time and time again by the teachers we interview. Happily, most of her worries about supply teaching proved unfounded. Hopefully this comparison will be helpful to any teachers currently pondering whether to dive in to supply with Headline…
Will I have more of a work/life balance?
The most common reason we hear for teachers wanting to leave full time posts is that the workload has become just too much. Once you take into account marking, planning, paperwork, parents evenings, team meetings (the list really is endless!) many teachers find they are working upwards of 50-hour weeks. For those teachers who have families, extra-curricular responsibilities, or those who would just like to spend a few precious hours with friends and loved ones, it can become a constant battle between work and home.
In comparison, the most quoted “joy” of supply teaching – you get your work/life balance back on track! You will have complete control over the work you accept, whether that is five days a week or a flexible one or two days each week. The burden of planning, OFSTED preparation etc. is no longer yours. You simply turn up, TEACH, mark the day’s work and then go home. For many teachers it allows them to reconnect with the part of the job that brings them joy, namely helping the students with their learning and development. Suddenly you can be home in time for dinner with the family, have the time to re-ignite your passion for gardening, or simply kick back in the evening sun with a well-deserved G&T!
Will it be lonely?
It can be understandably daunting to leave a well-established team, especially if you have been in the same school for many years. We often find teachers worry that they might feel a bit lonely doing supply.
Whilst you don’t have a team in the traditional sense, supply should not be lonely! You will find that you very quickly collect a cluster of schools that are your “regulars”, and you will soon get to know the staff teams at each one. Our advice is always to be brave and chat – dive into the staffroom before school and at lunch time, ask questions and compare notes. Not only will this help you integrate into the team in no time, but it is a fab way to “get your foot in the door”, whether that is for more regular supply or for future long term/permanent positions. We also encourage teachers to make the most of their Headline team. There will always be a Headline team member on the end of the phone for help, advice, or just to listen if you have had a bad day. We also hold regular socials where you can meet up with other Headline Teachers and discuss all things supply. Like I said, supply should never be lonely!
Will I cope with being the “New Face”?
We all remember being in class and hearing “Mrs Bloggs isn’t here today so you will be having Mr Smith instead, please be nice”. Chaos ensues – there is a mass exodus of the classroom, children standing on tables, said supply teacher Duct Taped to the chalkboard… Was it really this bad or is our memory playing tricks? It is certainly a trepidation for many teachers contemplating supply.
Reassuringly, most teachers find a day on supply to be a fairly calm affair. Our seasoned supply teachers tell us confidence and consistency are key, setting ground rules from the first bell, and approaching the day with a positive attitude. Supply means that you get to meet a huge range of children across a variety of schools, with different backgrounds and abilities. It is a brilliant way to discover new approaches, add new resources to your bag of tricks, and to experience a range of strategies for managing behaviour. Headline also work hard to ensure as much consistency as possible, always endeavouring to send the same teachers back to the same classes - so you will never be the new face for long.
Will I be valued as a Supply Teacher?
Feeling valued by colleagues and management is crucial to the enjoyment of any role. Whilst feeling valued is not a given in full-time teaching, there is a common concern for many that as a supply teacher you will be under-valued and perhaps even not made to feel welcome.
In reality, our teachers often find the opposite to be true. Most schools are so happy that you are there to help them (especially if you have jumped in to cover at the last minute) that you will be welcomed with open arms! If you communicate with staff, have a positive attitude and leave accurate notes and marking for the class teacher you are covering, you will soon make the list of “favourites” for that school.
So, whether you are contemplating supply as a long-term solution, or whether you simply need a bit of a break to re-evaluate your options, give your local Headline branch a call today. They will be more than happy to chat with you about your options, and to talk you through any concerns not addressed here! For many teachers, supply is a chance to fall back in love with teaching. Some will go on to long term or permanent positions in one of their favourite schools, and others decide that the flexibility of supply suits them so well that they continue with Headline for years. Whatever the final outcome – we would love to have you join the team!