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School cover supervisor vs Supply Agency

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by mrkhall, Jul 26, 2016.

  1. mrkhall

    mrkhall New commenter

    Dear agony aunts,

    I have just completed my PGCE and relocated for family reasons after the birth of my daughter. Since moving to be closer to my partners family, job opportunities have been minimal in the competitive world of PE teaching.

    However, a few weeks ago I had an interview with a local school where unfortunately my lesson didn't go to plan and to no suprise, i was beaten by a better candidate on the day but received some very positive feedback.

    Today out of the blue I received a call from the school asking whether I would be interested in a cover supervisor role if I hadn't sorted anything for September yet.

    I have already signed up to a teaching agency and wondered if anyone had any experience with either or both types of supply work?

    I have many questions such as:
    Would I recieve more PE specific cover if with an agency?
    Is it likely that I would be able to complete my NQT induction with the agency?
    What are the pros and cons with both?
    Financially wise which is better? (The agency are offering £100 a day, the school offering 21k pro rata which is roughly 15k) I worked out that if I did 4 days a week through the agency I would be getting paid more but is that realistic?
    Do pupils have more respect if you're part of the school or been brought in externally?

    Thankyou for your help!

  2. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter


    Supply work can be very hit and miss.

    Day to day is likely to pay better if you are given work most days but unfortunately it doesn't always work out like that.

    You are unlikely to be offered just PE work. You might, however, find you are popular in Primary with PE and get asked back by schools. There's a lot more work available in Primary so do accept it even if you are secondary. Marking us a right pain but the children are often lovely and you get cups of tea from friendly TAs.

    Cover Supervision isn't well paid but you'd have a regular income and less work to take home. It's possibly a better option if you need money.

    A lot of PE seems to be outsourced. Maybe you could look into marketing yourself as a Sports coach for Primary?

    Good luck
    mrkhall and pepper5 like this.
  3. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi Mrkhall

    Congratulations on your new baby daughter.

    Deirds is correct about supply being very unpredictable. I will set out what comes to mind and you can consider it further.

    I would take my chances with supply. You are obviously competent or the school would not have called you, so they are trying to get a qualified teacher on the cheap.

    If you live in area with plenty of supply and are willing to do both Primary and Secondary then you be in demand; however, as Deirds says, you have to be wiling to teach all subjects and if you are good at what is termed as "general cover" then you will get repeat bookings. Four days is realistic if you are in an area with a good number of primary and secondary schools.

    Once you get a few days/weeks of supply you will see the schools you would like to teach at and you may get offered something long term: for instance a maternity contract.

    I am not entirely sure, but I do believe you can do your induction with a school you are at if it is long term , but please check the rules with the Teaching Training Agency.

    While you are on supply, you can keep looking for something permanent. If you don't like a particular place, you don't have to return. Supply also gives you a chance to learn new things without the planning and marking unless you do a long term post.

    If you do decide to do supply read the post Guidance for Teachers New to Supply pinned at the top of the forum on how to get started. I would suggest you join two agencies to increase your chances of working every day.

    As regards students respecting you, whether you are hired directly by the school or are at a school on supply, as a new teacher you are going to get tested, so prepare for that. The behaviour in schools can vary enormously and even within schools from class to class. That is one of disadvantages of working as a supply teacher. You will need to perfect your behaviour management skills and read up on that area. Even if you took the CS role, the students are going to test you because you are "new".

    If you post the general area of where you are in the country and ask how much work people are tending to get, then someome may reply.

    On a separate note, as someone just starting out and with a young family, my other piece of advice for you is that as you go go along in your career and have more time, think about a little side line skill you can develop or a small business you can set up so you always have an extra cushion to fall back on.

    It might be making something, or a net work marketing, or developing a hobby you can turn into cash. As Deirds says, coaching is something you could do as a business.

    All the best for September. If you need anything further, please let us know.
    mrkhall likes this.
  4. mrkhall

    mrkhall New commenter

    Fantastic responses I really appreciate your time! I have moved just outside of Plymouth so it is a rather big city with plenty of schools. My agency said that they were in desperate need for specialist PE teachers and are in high demand but I assume that's what they tell everyone!

    I told the school that I would be able to give them my decision this afternoon but Im still not certain of what I want to do. I like the idea of supply but not the unpredictability in terms of income.
  5. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    Personally if you want a bit of secure employment then I'd go for it and see where it leads you.

    There has NEVER been a demand for PE teachers BTW - rather the reverse.
  6. mrkhall

    mrkhall New commenter

    UPDATE: I have decided to pursue the route of Supply Teaching in order to observe and teach in multiple schools in the area as I have only been to the one that has offered me the job! Whilst this also means i still leave the door open to completing my NQT induction should a long term supply role come up.

    Thankyou all so much for the comments, it has really helped with deciding what was best for my new little family!
    pepper5 likes this.
  7. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    Start with reading the advice for teachers new to supply pinned at the top of the forum. With some hard work, you may find a long term placement to finish your induction. As you say you can have a chance of observing other schools. As for the school that offered you the CS role, write a letter to them to thank them for considering you and tell them you are available for supply work should they need anyone. You can workmfor agencies and also work for schools directly.

    All the best for you and your new family. Enjoy your little daughter.

    Don't forget about setting up a side business when you are able- coaching would be ideal.

    Thanks for letting us know.
  8. elvispenhaligon

    elvispenhaligon Occasional commenter

    Plymouth is f*&^ed. I'm sec science. Has been utterly utterly utterly dry since 09. I used to work for select.
  9. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I've had a few conflicting thoughts about your questions. Here they are:

    Reasons you'd be better off as a Cover Supervisor:

    - The school clearly like you, and if a permanent job is the goal, this could be an excellent opportunity for you.
    - As a PE specialist, the school will likely love you if you get involved in sports clubs/teams etc
    - Cover for PE is a nightmare, because you really do need a specialist if there's any sort of practical involved.
    - PE staff tend to be a healthy bunch - how much regular absence is going to be needed for you to get regular PE specific supply teaching?
    - Guaranteed work with consistent pay: supply is very likely to be an all or nothing situation. You are unlikely to maintain 4 days per week consistently. I think I earned about £15k from supply this past academic year, but that work came in large chunks of full time, followed by nothing for weeks on end.

    On the other hand, supply could for you :

    - If you can manage if your income drops to zero for a few weeks at a time
    - If you can arrange childcare at short notice
    - If PE is in demand due to the afore mentioned need for specialists to cover

    Only you can decide what will work best for you. But be aware that supply teaching is not as plentiful as agencies will have you believe. Or at least, if it is, they've signed up so many new supply teachers that there's a lack of consistency for day-to-day supply work. You best bet if you want a consistent income is a long-term supply cover e.g. a maternity leave.

    Best of luck with what ever you decide.
    Eva x

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