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Page 12

On the supply side

Laurence French sets out what he sees as the pros and cons of supply teaching.

Let’s assume you have decided to give up the day job in the classroom and are looking for a different direction for your career. Perhaps retirement is looming but you don’t want to stop work completely, or you have had enough of the myriad changes and initiatives that have descended from on high and you want your career to be less complicated. Perhaps you are newly qualified and cannot secure a full-time post yet.

Whatever your motivation, becoming a supply teacher might be worth considering.

It’s important to think carefully about what you want to do and formulate a plan. Ask yourself if you really want to do supply work instead of full-time teaching.

I am assuming that if you’re retired (or nearing retirement) you have your teachers’ pension to fall back on, and that you are probably not the breadwinner of your family. If you are retired and receiving a pension, Your must declare your earnings to Teachers’ Pensions and your pension payments may be adjusted. I say this because supply work can be very variable and often seasonal.

The winter months can be quite productive, when seasonal flu hits teaching staff, whereas the summer months are less lucrative as the school year draws to an end. So it is unwise to assume you are going to bring home a regular monthly income – and you won’t get sick pay, either, as a supply teacher.

If you become a supply teacher after working a good number of years in the same school, it is a big change in your daily routine and working practices. It can be daunting walking into a strange establishment, not knowing a soul and feeling lost and vulnerable. The upside is that you can always walk away from it if you have a bad time. My experience, however, is that the


Some hints and tips:

• Get a classroom survival kit together: bundles of pens and pencils; several rulers and erasers; plenty of A4 paper.

• A good Satnav system is invaluable.

• Have your national insurance number handy for filling in your claim forms.

• Have a current Criminal Records Bureau check with you. Some schools even ask to see your passport.

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