If you are working as a supply teacher in the UK today, then chances are you are working with an agency.
How you view that relationship and how you behave within it can bring great experiences and opportunities which can add to a fulfilling pathway as an educator.
Here are a few tips to maximise the potential success of working with an agency:
Don’t treat it as a stop-gap
Whatever your reasons for becoming a supply teacher and however long you plan to do it, you should see it as a valid and important step in your career journey, just as you would consider your training years or any previous permanent employment.
The team at the agency are your colleagues and your support network as you develop your own career; they are there for your benefit. Treat them as a team of valued colleagues and they will do the same for you!
Be true to your word
Be clear and direct about how you want to work and what it is you’re prepared to do. Your agency will be ‘selling’ you based on how you have pitched yourself so always be as honest as possible.
For example, don’t say ‘I’ll teach any age group in Primary School’, just because you think it’s what the agency wants to hear if what you really mean is ‘I really only feel capable of teaching Years 4-6’.
If you get sent to a Reception class for the day and it all goes horribly wrong, you, the agency and the school all end up having a negative experience!
Always be on time
No excuses. None. It doesn’t matter. We live in the 21st Century and everyone has a mobile phone. Use it to plan your route, anticipate delays and act accordingly. If you’re unsure about how to get somewhere or the time it will take, call your agency and ask for help!
Be open to feedback
If you’re new to supply teaching, trust the experience and inside knowledge of your agency. They want you to do well and get repeat work. If a school offers feedback about you, don’t be afraid of it. It may help you grow professionally or at the very least give you something to think about.
If your goal is to ultimately secure a full-time position somewhere, take advantage of any positions or training that the agency offers to you and keep your own record of it.
You can then create a ‘portfolio C.V.’ which illustrates your ability to be versatile, deliver consistent high-quality teaching, and continually respond to change – now wouldn’t that sound good to a potential employer?
About our Community Expert
Paul is an actor and English teacher from Northern Ireland. Alongside his acting career working in theatre, film and television across the UK, he also teaches in primary and secondary schools throughout London.
Paul provides performance coaching to both individual clients and businesses.