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Starting supply - what to expect?

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by emillie-rose, Jan 3, 2016.

  1. emillie-rose

    emillie-rose New commenter

    Hi all

    I have recently left a position at a secondary due to a number of different factors. As I do not want to give up teaching all together, I decided to supply for a while to experience different school environments. I have just accepted a long term supply position in a school - commencing Jan till April.

    I am slightly concerned that the pay is bare minimum despite the fact I have four years experience, will be taking on a full timetable and will be working there for four months. As I am new to this, I am unsure as to whether this is the norm.

    Please could someone advise?


  2. splinters

    splinters Established commenter

    Well, after twelve weeks you can expect the same pay and conditions as a full time employee but, as there is no pay portability its hard to say what point on MPS that would be. To give you an idea my agency offer me general cover at £120 per day plus expenses going up to £165 for specialist subject cover. Few will go any higher up in the North of England. If you are working for less than £120 I would be asking your agency why.
    For the record it was the chance to work in a variety of different school settings after 13 years in one place that first attracted me to supply but after 4 months you might not feel that way. Still, I do prefer longer term contracts as it takes a good few weeks to get to know names, routines, sanctions etc.
  3. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    For what it's worth I'll pass on a bit of advice I was given many years ago at a 'supply training session'.
    Treat any day/ week as the start of a job you expect to last. That is to say, go in just as you would if this were a permanent appointment. Expect to do everything a permanent teacher would do.
    There will be others more au fait with current regulations, but it used to be that after a certain number of weeks you could ask to be 'paid to scale'. However as pay scales have gone, not sure if that still applies.
    Best of luck
  4. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    Yes, you must be positive.

    It may not be the case that you get more money after 12 weeks as that has changed in the last few years.

    However if you want to get back to a permanent position again then it's a start.

    Good Luck
  5. splinters

    splinters Established commenter

    Thats the twelve week rule i referred to Lara but emillie could expect to be paid to scale from day one as its a long term assignment.
    Agree about the rest, pretend you actually work there permanent....but that will also include meetings, reports, assessments, parents evenings etc.
  6. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    You can expect to be but you don't have to be - unless you negotiate.
  7. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    Read the union information pinned at the top of the page. Join a union. Never ever accept any agency offer without negotiating a pay rate and a job description. Any issues within the school don't negotiate with the school. You are not their employee.
    Regardless of what other posters have said, it's highly unlikely the post will become full time, you are being paid less, you have fewer employee's rights and you cannot pay into your pension. You might well have been talked into umbrella payroll arrangements and the school might reshuffle the timetable to give you the worst classes. Since they are paying about 200 quid a day to the agency they might want their money's worth. Have you requested PPA time? It's not an entitlement for supply staff so in spite of what other posters might say, don't be a martyr.
  8. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi Emillie

    The norm is that before you take on a position, have a figure in your mind that you think is fair for the amount of work you will be doing and if the agency cannot pay you that, then you are perfectly within your rights to decline their offer and look elsewhere. If you are planning lessons and marking work then you need a higher daily rate than what you would receive on day to day supply.

    nearmiss is correct that you should ensure you negotiate with the agency the pay rate not the school and also ensure you get a job description. These are all things to protect you from unscrupulous schools and agencies.

    You have to be a hard nosed businesswomen in the end and negotiate hard; if you are in an area where there is plenty of supply then you might be as well off doing day to day supply rather than long term assignments and you will still meet your objective of experiencing different school environments.

    Lastly, don't forget to ensure you are in a union.

    All the best for your new post and experience of supply.

  9. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I know some people find it difficult to stick up for themselves and it depends how desperate you are for work, but I have a personal rule that if you don't pay me the same as the other teachers in the school, then I don't do the same job. In other words, if you pay me less than the average daily salary of a full-time teacher, then I will not do the work expected of a full-time teacher. I won't mark, attend meetings or take work home. Similarly the school will not benefit from my years of experience ie. I will not use resources that I've made myself over the years and I will not produce bespoke lesson plans.

    They can pay me for my experience, or they can pay me for the hours I teach in the classroom. Their choice. If they choose the latter, they get a great teacher for 5 lessons of the day and nothing more.
    teachSheffield and splinters like this.
  10. splinters

    splinters Established commenter

    Well said Eva, I just accepted a general cover for tomorrow. Its in a school very nearby where I have worled before and wasnt a great experience but I have been so bored today I didnt want to turn it down. They will get exactly what you describe: up to 5 lessons covered by an experienced teacher but, should any be my specialist subject, I wont be using my own resources nor imparting my wisdom.
  11. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Whilst I understand your reasoning Eva_Smith and splinters, there is a part of me which asks, "Realistically who is it, who suffers, the school or the children?"
    Isn't it sad that dedicated professionals like ourselves could even start to think like this?
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2016
    Mrsmumbles and pepper5 like this.
  12. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    The OP is referring to long term supply which is entirely different from day-to-day supply teaching. On a long term assignment there will be marking, planning and record keeping to do and a higher daily rate isn't unreasonable. While on day to day assignments in secondary (primary is different) there is usually not an expectation to mark work nor is there any expectation to bring your own resources unless you feel the need to. I have taught hundreds of lessons on day to day supply and have never been asked to plan a lesson, mark work, or attend meetings. I've adapted lessons but never have had to start from nothing.

    Long term supply is where the main dangers are as the OP has realised. Not getting a high enough daily rate for the extra work involved.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  13. splinters

    splinters Established commenter

    Well said and, if Im honest, if I was put in Art, DT, ICT or Music I couldnt resist getting more 'involved' in the lesson but when covering Year10 Health and Social, delivering just what Im asked is about all I can do.
    Its not just the duration of the assignment, its what subject you cover that has an effect on marking etc.
    @emillie-rose have you clarified the daily rate with the agency before you start?
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  14. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    I think most regular posters in this forum will tell you that agencies are in it to make money. They charge the schools as much as they dare and pay you as little as they dare. You can be sure that there is a margin of up to £100 between these two points so you have to ask for a living rate. There is plenty of wriggle room but you have to do it before performance of the contract is underway.
    For day to day work, the time to ask is when the agency calls you at 7.30 a.m. The school wants a reply within the next five minutes or they will go elsewhere. So you have the upper hand at that point or the agency will have to ring round again and potentially lose the client. Also, if the school is further away than you want to travel you have to point that out that it's your time and petrol/fare. They are all sales negotiators not teachers. You have to play their game.
    They are all competing in-house to have the most turnover from their desk so it's a numbers game. In turn each branch is competing with other branches in their area. Their own pay is incentivised according to how much they meet or exceed their targets. (sound familiar?)
    For a depressingly large number of agencies, education is pretty low down on their priority list when they are trying to get deals.
    On a long term placement you may or may not be entitled to AWR rates after 12 weeks mentioned by posters above. If you were talked into a "Guaranteed Work Scheme" you will have inadvertently agreed to a Swedish Derogation which takes away your right to the rise after 12 weeks.
    (If you like nerdy details I can explain why it's called Swedish and how it came about, just ask) All you need to know is that you should look at your contract and if it contains the phrase "regulation 10 contract" you have indeed gone the way of the meatball and you won't be getting a rise.

    Sorry if that is the case. If the regulation 10 is not mentioned and there is nothing Swedish there, you have a standard contract so AWR still applies, but don't get too comfy just yet.

    I now have it on very good authority from my employment law specialist that the school is perfectly within its rights to drop you at 12 weeks if the agency puts their charges up. They should have told the school that this would be so and they should be charging a flat rate that factors in the the potential for the increase but there is a growing trend to swerve that.

    It is wise not to mention this, again, until the very last minute so that it's too late to swap you out for someone else, so wait until you are on day one of week 13 then drop it into the conversation. Make sure that the good girl reference from the school has just hit their inbox at that point. (see later)

    This is why the old hands will advise you to feather your nest from the word go and not wait for what you are indeed entitled to but might not get.

    Still all is not lost.

    1. PR. get the school to give the agency positive feedback. If you can handle the classes make sure that SMT know that it is going well. Get the person who books supply to tell the agency how good you are. Time this to coincide with your request for AWR rates.
    2. In the mean time, the agency won't want to lose the booking so don't worry that they'll drop you if you ask for more before 12 weeks. Just construct a case that you are working X amount of hours (again if you look at your contract it will stipulate that a working day is 6.4 hours if it's a standard agency contract and they usually are) so ask them to factor in the increase or ask them to tell the school that you need guaranteed PPA. Be really perky and agreeable just like they are and use their first name a lot during the conversation just like they do.
    3. Have a figure in mind.
    4. Ask this forum again if you want to know how to do this. A lot of us have been over the top plenty of times and survived it and now get a good rate of pay.
    If you can deliver the goods in the classroom and your consultant knows they can rely on you, they will accept a smaller margin if it means guaranteed business.
    Welcome to the shark pool.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  15. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Thanks for your post nearmiss...plenty of sound advice for those thinking about long term posts.
  16. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I'm afraid I no longer hold that view that it's my responsibility to ensure the children aren't disadvantaged. If the school wants its children to receive the best education, they will pay their staff accordingly. If they wish to pay me less, I assume that's because they think me incapable of providing the same service as their full time staff.

    I have a bit of a rule book that I stick to, based on the varying rates I've been offered:

    £140 per day: you get a subject specialist, or a teacher who can turn her hand to teaching most subjects. If covering my specialism, I will teach: follow the work set, but also add in my own explanations and examples, possibly even a resource/powerpoint that I feel will help. In non-specialism areas I'll do my best to deliver good teaching. If the staff are nice to me, I've been known to do a spot of marking in my lunch hour (I find lunch times a bit boring on a day-to-day basis so I might as well help out). I leave a note at the end of the day with details about where we got up to. I sometimes even visit the HOD to explain what work was unfinished so that they can more easily set cover for the following day if necessary.

    £110 per day: a couple of schools will apparently only pay this lower rate. I've accepted when there's been nothing else. But they get 5 hours of teaching, no resources, no extras. I just follow the instructions and help the kids if needed. I take a book to read at lunch time.

    £50-60 per day: I had one agency that reckons they can only offer cover supervisor rate because that's all that schools will pay. I don't accept work at this rate. However, if desperate times called for desperate measures, I'd go in, deliver the work and sit at the front for an hour watching the kids work.

    If they want marking, planning and all the extra, they need to pay for. Simple as that.
  17. splinters

    splinters Established commenter

    Im all for giving the students my very best in my subject specialism but, like tomorrow, on a £120 general cover I will likely be covering an absent colleague or a ppa time, or both.
    As was pointed out in another thread, agencies are not beyond sending you out on general cover knowing that you will be in your specialist area that day and who knows what rate they agreed with the school for that.
    So, as much as it goes against my instinct to not give 100% to whatever lessons I cover, there are schools and agencies who will simply exploit your enthusiasm while paying as little as possible. You then find yourself being expected to do the same in each assignment despite a diminishing rate of pay.
    An analogy I jokingly used in another thread that may be apt here.
    A plumber goes in to fix pipes and leaks, does the job and leaves.
    A heating engineer goes in to service the boiler, fix the pipes, bleed the radiators, put in new taps and then stays a few hours to check there are no leaks, everything works etc. Both are professionals with a job to do but one gets paid more for the specialism and the extra service.
    Point being, if you want your heating to work properly expect to pay a heating engineer.
  18. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    This is so important to remember. I think so many of us are fearful of the negotiation. I know of many supply teachers who were in the same position as me: they'd left teaching after 10+ years, had been bullied out and left because of the stress and anxiety...and as a consequence they just were too afraid to ASK for more money.

    When my Agency 1 rings me, I know I'm getting a flat £140 per day.
    Agency 2 is tighter and pays £110, though I can negotiate this up to £120-125. On one occasion when I knew she was really stuck I stuck to my guns and asked for £140 and got it; she had no choice.

    Just to offer some balance, I must say that it is possible to find an agency that isn't like this. Agency 1 (affiliated with TES) is a team of just 4 people: a married couple and two colleagues. One is responsible for primary, one for secondary and the husband/wife team kind of flit in between and share the roles of branch manager. They are all ex-teachers. Whilst they all have the ability to be quite firm (they do expect excellent performance), they have a policy of refusing to send teachers out for less than £140 per day. They seem to have excellent relationships with the cover organisers in the various schools and they have a huge reach too.

    I'm not saying they are working as a charity or anything; I'm pretty sure they are making a fair profit! But they pay me (and 100s of others) fairly and, to be honest, as long as they are paying me fairly and using PAYE, what they charge the schools and the profit they make is not really any of my business.

    That said, of course I understand that not all agencies are working in this way. But they are out there and perhaps if teachers could be a bit more confident to stand together and demand what's right it would put pressure on those agencies that aren't playing far to conform.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  19. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    What to expect? Nothing, mostly.

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