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20 years as supply teacher, it has never been so slow

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by Om100, Dec 1, 2015.

  1. Om100

    Om100 New commenter

    I have been a supply teacher for 20 years. It has been the worst term I have ever had.
    I have only had 3 days this term. In the last 20 years I was booked almost ever day.
    It is beyond ridiculous. The Government have ruined teaching as a profession, especially supply.
    It's time to leave. With a heavy heart after 20 years of teaching I realise it is now unsustainable to make a living out of it.
    Opinions welcome.
    schoolsout4summer likes this.
  2. supply287

    supply287 New commenter

    I agree. I've been on supply for a similar time and it's been by far the worst year I have experienced. I'm in South Yorkshire - where are you?
  3. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    Very sorry to hear of your dilemma. It is very tough especially this time of year.

    Academies are trying tomsave money and they also mismanage the money they do have. Instead of paying teachers, they will use cheaper staff where they can in the form of HLTAs and cover supervisors.

    I am in the east and it appears here that there is still enough supply to go around, mainly because where I live there are several schools in special measures where the behaviour is so bad the schools find it hard to find people to work there.

    Twenty years is an incredible amount of time to work on supply. What did you like best about it?
  4. sebedina

    sebedina Occasional commenter

    Yes I also find that it has been really quiet. I am just grateful for each day that i get. I went for an interview/observation for something for January, and despite having a good lesson, I did not get it. Even though I had all my work differentiated, the criticism was that there should have been even more challenge. I think these things seem to be very hit and miss in my experience and always leave me very demoralised.
  5. sebedina

    sebedina Occasional commenter

    I am considering other options too, just in case it dries up totally!
  6. bonnie1

    bonnie1 Senior commenter

    I always wonder why a school employs a supply teacher for a term or more. I know sometimes it's to cover sickness that they can do nothing about, but that's not always the case. Just advertise and appoint somebody on contract!
  7. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    With supply, it is always good to have a backup plan sebidina. I am too trying to make a plan for the event that supply dries up around here.
  8. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    Do you think part of the issue is that flood of teachers into the supply pool? So many teachers, just amongst the ones I know, have left full time teaching and turned to supply. Agencies continue to sign up more and more, and what work there is now shared amongst more people.
  9. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    3 years ago I reached the point that you are at now. I had only 3 days of work from early January until the end of March 2012. I realised that I'd have more income from an actuarially reduced pension and officially retired.
  10. ScotSEN

    ScotSEN Senior commenter

    Shame you're not in Scotland. Can't get teachers for love nor money.
  11. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Yes Eva

    It may well be that there are more teachers seeking a reduced amount of supply. As you say, so many are leaving the profession and supply is fairly well paid; in addition the fact that you get paid weekly by some agencies makes it attractive and its flexible so people can do it while they try to sort out something else.
  12. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    @pepper5: I think you could be right. Agencies seem to be on a massive recruitment drive. Hardly a day goes by without an email, or a cold-call, from a new agency inviting you to sign up, or an old one asking you to re-register. Why they do this baffles me, as few agencies have any work to offer, so how do the existing ones survive, let alone the new ones that pop up continually.

    @jubilee: I joined the desolate trail of supply teaching in 2012, found the same lack of work, and took ARP just to have a regular income.
  13. historygrump

    historygrump Star commenter Forum guide

    I am in agreement with all of the posters, in that I have never seen it so quiet and at first, I thought it was just me, but as the term as gone on, it would appear to be widespread. This term I have just two half days work and as I have said before I seriously considering my role within education. But who is to blame?

    Some have said it is a surplus of teachers, which is a factor, because when Michael Gove admitted in a newspaper article towards the end of the last government, when he was S of S for Education, 'we train 30,000 teachers every year, but only need around 15,000'. So this means that some of the surplus is going into supply, combine this with the fact that teachers are not leaving their jobs or there seem to be a reluctance to go sick for many reasons, then there is a problem.

    However there are other factors of why it is so quiet, agencies are recruiting more and more CS, and this is the fault of the failed politicians like Ed Balls and Michael Gove, who encouraged schools to recruit and use unqualified staff. I believe it was either Tim Laughton or Nick Gibb who stated something along the line, in a H of C education question session that 'unqualified people with physics (science) degrees from Oxford or Cambridge, are better teachers of these subjects then qualified physics or science teachers, because they went to these universities'. This problem about the use of unqualified staff have not been helped by the unions, who have failed to act, despite warnings from supply teachers about the use of unqualified staff, I know they uttered their opposition before the last election, but they have quiet ever since. In fact I can remember the leader of the NASUWT who did a promotion video promoting the use of CS in schools, but then said unqualified staff should not be teaching, this hypocrisy shocked me. The teaching unions should be fighting for the use of supply teachers to cover the absences of unqualified staff, not pretending it is not an issue.

    The biggest problem are the HT's who claim that using CS and TA employed by the school is beneficial in that these staff know the students, despite the fact that many have at best Gcse's and the fact that they are not trained to teach. What makes their stance more absurd is the use of supply CS to cover teacher absences, these supply CS do not know the student's and are in many cases not qualified teachers. So HT who demand that the teachers must work to the highest standards then undermine their argument by using unqualified staff both permanent and supply to teach, this suggest that many HT's main focus is saving money and not the education of their schools student's. These are the schools that are top heavy with senior management, I remember my school having just a HT and deputy HT, now they have numerous deputy HT's, and assistant HT's, and this is not counting the managers, including the all powerful cover managers. Just think if these schools reduced the senior management teams then money could be used to spend on using qualified teachers, rather then unqualified teachers, which would benefit the education of the students, and that is what all teachers go into the education. We go into education to educate the youth of today, to be the scientists, teachers and leaders of tomorrow. Unfortunately many HT's have lost sight of this and look at educating the student's as cheap as possible, even if it means using unqualified staff to do so.

    That is why I worry about the future of supply teachers, and remember when they have got rid of us, it will be the permanent teachers next, and it is already happening now, in that some schools are using unqualified staff to teach lessons on a permanent basis. When you point this out to the teachers, the unions and politicians, they all say unqualified staff cannot teach because the regulations forbid it. Unfortunately these regulations do not to my knowledge apply to academies and to quote the D of E in letter to me some years ago 'schools are not allowed to use unqualified staff because of the regulations forbid it, but schools can use their staff as they see fit'.

    These factors are some of the reasons why supply teaching is so quiet, and is why I have to wonder what is my future.

    Sorry about the rant!
    bonnie1 likes this.
  14. bonnie1

    bonnie1 Senior commenter

    I agree with everything you have said Historygrump. Well said!!!
  15. supplywhore

    supplywhore New commenter

    Like you I,ve been on supply for a long time, about ten years. I too have never known work to evaporate quotes so badly. I've had four days teaching and four as a ta since September. Fortunately I have a small back up income or if be well and truely stuffed.
    I've been applying for other work eg basoc/functional skills tutor but getting nowhere. Also looking at retraining in other careers such as social work but can't afford the courses. Shucks.
    Any ideas?
  16. elvispenhaligon

    elvispenhaligon Occasional commenter

    I wouldn't invest another penny in education. There are so many people with pieces of paper kicking around, they invariably end up hiring someone's daughter. Just get your foot in the door somewhere and work your way up, or set up your own firm. I really do believe that anything apart from an "operators certificate" is money sponked up the wall
  17. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I'm seeing a LOT of agencies advertising for more and more staff when there isn't even enough work for the ones they've got! Then, my theory is that the agencies will be sending those new recruits out for work to keep them sweet, even offering them guaranteed work contracts.

    My main agency doesn't seem to advertise except when they need a specific long-term post filled. I have seen several other agencies advertising weekly for more people, including one who has never provided me with a single day's work, despite me being told that English specialists are in demand.
  18. splinters

    splinters Established commenter

    Sadly, like sales, they have targets to meet in terms of recruitment and conversion as well as getting as much money as they can for the agency.
    So, they will recruit like crazy to meet their various targets. Pretty sad when you start thinking of yourself as a used car......
  19. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I know several fully qualified and experienced teachers who are currently working as in-house cover supervisors. Some of them have opted for this role as an alternative to going part-time. And schools are only too happy to employ a qualified teacher for £14k per year. Undoubtedly, these teacher won't be able to resist proper teaching when in the classroom, so the school are happy.
  20. supplywhore

    supplywhore New commenter

    Was sent by my agency for an interview for a long term supply post. It turned out it was a permanent post and they'd weedled their way into sending teachers in for an initial look round following seeing the job posted on the council website. The school told me several agencies are trying this on. No doubt they are feeling the pinch too.
    After twenty years it's time to change.

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