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London supply teaching

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by devils, Dec 27, 2015.

  1. devils

    devils Occasional commenter

    I'm curious about the current situation:

    How is supply teaching in London these days? I here at lot of conflicting messages!

    Is it easier for those doing general cover or for those specialising in their subject area?

    Would it be fair to say that agencies are on the whole vipers and you'd be better off approaching schools direct?

    How much of an impact have Cover Supervisors had?

    Do LEA even have supply pools anymore?

    Is Primary lower paid due to the over supply of Primary trained teachers?

  2. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    I have been trying to break into the secondary supply scene in London for three years and it seems that it is practically non-existent. As a science teacher, I thought I would have a better chance than most but not a bit of it! There might be more demand for supply teachers in London but I think this is far outweighed by the sheer numbers of would-be supply teachers all chasing the same work. That this is the case is shown up by the very, very low rates of pay offered by agencies. Many of these have 'combined' the teacher, CA and CS roles and just pay £50 - 60 a day for long-term supply, or even less. From my experience, and that of others I know, day-to-day supply is completely dead, as most schools have their own CSs, or only pay CS rates for supply. No LAs of which I know have 'pools' any more; all use agencies. Some people have suggested that secondary teachers should try to get into primary teaching but the agencies I have asked about this all say that they haven't got enough for the trained primary teachers on their books.
  3. PizzoCalabro

    PizzoCalabro Established commenter

    I have been doing secondary daily supply in London for 5 terms. Initially with four agencies, two of which got me regular work. For the last term have been with one agency and two direct schools, now have a third direct school from January. I got the direct schools by emailing them.
    The agency pays less than the schools (but still teacher rate, considerably more than the NQT that I am) but keep doing a few days with them to keep my options open. The schools pay extra in recognition of the fact that I am a mature career changer. I cover all subjects.
    Agencies are sharks so you have to play them at their own game and insist on PAYE and being treated like a professional. The one I remained with treats me fine - obviously they tried it on with offers of half a day, or CS rates - I just refused those, so now they offer me full day at full rate. I ditched those that were slippery..
  4. PizzoCalabro

    PizzoCalabro Established commenter

    They all did try to sucker m with primary, and before I know better I did a few primary days, but now refuse them as there are ridiculous marking and duties requirements.
  5. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    Sometimes, I wonder if I live in 'alternative world' to some people on here. I tried sending a @TheoGriff -style executive summary to all the secondary schools within a ten mile radius and got only two replies, both negative. The only 'jobs' agencies ask me about are either miserably paid, or unpaid.
  6. PizzoCalabro

    PizzoCalabro Established commenter

    What is a theogriff summary?
    If it is something off the shelf then there is no difference to everyone else's.
    Write your own, with your strengths and why the school, would be lucky to have you!
    it doesn't matter if they do or don't 'accept unsolicited' approaches - you have nothing to lose. They don't have to respond.
    IME even those who do not bite still send a polite reply.
  7. Twinklefoottoe

    Twinklefoottoe Senior commenter

    I would certainly not use someone else's idea of what a CV and covering letter should be. Do half an hour's research, look at a dozen examples, read a few nuggets of wisdom from different people then prepare your own. The general rules are to make it short, clear, to the point, relevant, laid out brilliantly, with ZERO grammar and spellings mistakes, ideally on one side of A4 but certainly no more than two and proof-read by at least a couple of literate friends. Avoid waffle about being able to work in a team etc. Concentrate on who you are, qualifications, what you can do and what experience your have. Always mail-shot both the school Head and the Head of Department. Use top quality pastel paper and a top quality envelope.

    Prepare a spreadsheet of all the schools you would consider working in in your area. Learn how to mail-merge your spreadsheet of addresses to sticky labels. Assume that this amounts to 50. That means 100 CVs sent out. Send them out at strategic times e.g. now if you are underemployed, two weeks before the Summer break, again at the end of August, a couple of weeks before the end of a contract etc. Each mail-shot will cost about £100 so if you send out 6 mail-shots a year, that is just about two and a half to three days supply pay.

    If you have time on your hands, learn something extra for your CV. Do a Maths course. Learn to program in Python or JavaScript or SmallBasic. Get familiar with the GCSE in Computer Science. Learn a language.

    Getting work is about marketing yourself and demonstrating why a school who needs someone should employ you when they could have a £50 a day polish cover supervisor.

    There is no need to use an agency. Set up your own company. However, there is nothing stopping you joining as many agencies as you want if you are desperate and don't mind being screwed and taken for a mug by them.
  8. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    I did not slavishly copy another's template but studied examples and came up with my own. I included most of the points that @Twinklefoottoe and @PizzoCalabro as to the contents of my CV and the timing of its distribution. I launched my campaign in two phases: a wider one by email to schools on the periphery of my area, and postal ones to those schools closer to me, in which I wanted to work. The outcome was still the same, though.
  9. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    If you read Theogriff's advice you know there is no way she would recommend a template for everyone to copy.

    For those fortunate enough never to wander over to the Jobseekers forum Theo Griff does give good advice (but she can't magic up vacancies for us all).

    I believe Jolly Roger and Pizza Calabro work in different areas in London. When it comes to Supply work there is probably no such area as "London" - OP should specify where to get relevant answers about how much Supply is available.

    Luck plays a huge part.

    It may be extremely difficult for people who have been fortunate in getting Supply work (or any work) to acknowledge they have been lucky. Unemployment is not down to laziness, stupidity or lack of skill. It can be sheer bad fortune. Please refrain from criticising those less fortunate than yourselves - at least during the season of goodwill.

    Giving a realistic, if pessimistic, outlook on the availability of Supply will ultimately be of more use to devils.(OP).
  10. Twinklefoottoe

    Twinklefoottoe Senior commenter

    Forgot to mention, when I made up my mind to resign and do a bit of supply, it was back around October / November, I started keeping a spreadsheet of all the adverts that came up for those schools in my area for my subject and Maths, which I also teach. It helps because you can then send those schools an extra mailshot, especially if they have advertised more than once for the same post.

    Other things to think about doing; do you include a quality photo of yourself in teacher - mode? How do you network? For example, in my subject, I will always go to the local Computer hubs, have offered and given coding training in other schools, visited primary schools to talk to year 6 students moving to our school, shared resources with colleagues in other local schools, even written articles for the local rag about computing in schools - it all helps. Marketing yourself takes time, thought and perseverance like any business, but you'll hit a tipping point and things will take off.

    What are you marketing yourself as? General cover (v difficult as no focus and anyone can babysit a class) or something more specialised and in a shortage subject (easier as you are expected to actually teach)? Whilst you are not working, how are you improving your skills base, keeping up-to-date e.g. involving yourself with voluntary work, exam board work, writing a blog, developing your subject interest, research, private tutoring, doing a Masters / Phd etc?
  11. jomaimai

    jomaimai Established commenter

    From my experience, I believe there is short and long term supply, in primary, but very little day-to-day.
    It looks like class teachers are disapearing, suddenly, from their post and being replaced by supply.

    Sadly, we all know why.
  12. PizzoCalabro

    PizzoCalabro Established commenter

    Just read (in dentist waiting room :) ) old copy of TES from November, where 26% of HTs surveyed said they are using more supply teachers than last year. (OK so who knows, maybe 74% are using fewer? Maybe only those using STs responded to the survey? Maybe they were clustered outside London? Frustratingly no info re the population surveyed.)
    In the schools I go to I see no reduction in daily supply form last year, and I am often not the only supply teacher in that day, sometimes - like in the week before Xmas, four in one (secondary) school in South London.
  13. devils

    devils Occasional commenter

    Thanks for all the replies - fascinating (in a depressing kind of way :confused:) to see the differences in opinions and experiences.
    My issue was that as a primary and middle school trained teacher I've been really thinking about taking another step up to teach at secondary level. My degree background is in science and I have a good amount of maths and science teaching experience but only up to Y8 (primary-middle schools). I was thinking of taking a year out to do some supply teaching and get some experience of KS4/5 class environments, to hopefully put me in a much better position for applying for secondary jobs.

    I remember reading an article in TES a while back from a head who in his career spent a year doing supply - he said in terms of the experience he got and the different environments he had to teach in, he would recommend it to any teacher.

    What do you think?

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