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Supply in south east London

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by Typhoon, Feb 12, 2011.

  1. Typhoon

    Typhoon New commenter

    I have worked on a supply basis in primary schools (both in KS1 and 2) in the Greenwich and Lewisham Boroughs for about 10 years now, with a couple of years out during that time when I was working in longer-term posts. Although I now no longer live in SE London and am now based in rural Kent, I am still on the books of my agency in London as supply can be very scarce in these parts, so for the past couple of years I have continued to work in London by either travelling up by car in the morning (about 65 miles one way!) or by travelling up the night before and staying with a friend in order to get to work on time the next morning. (Obviously, I only do pre-booked work as I cannot take early morning calls and get to schools on time on this basis!)
    I say I have "continued" to work in London, but perhaps more accurately, I should say that I continue to be registered with my agency and that they continue to text me each week to ask my availability for the following week. The reality however is that I have only been offered work on one day since September - and that was a day I couldn't do!
    When I first started supply work in London, it was a completely different story. The phone never stopped ringing, I had my pick of jobs most days and could easily (and often did) work 5 days per week if I wanted to, although I actually only needed to work 3. I did notice a change last year, and that there seemed to be less work available in general, although this didn't really affect me too much- as I now do a fair bit of home tuition, I can manage fine on 2 days per week. And even this time last year my agency were texting me pressurising me to work on days that I didn't really want to, as they still had ample jobs coming in. How times have changed! Even my agency have admitted (in their words) that the supply scene has been like "a graveyard" since September and that they find it extremely "worrying". There is no need to go into the reasons for this decline in day-to-day work, as it has been very comprehensively and well documented elsewhere on the thread. So, at the moment I am getting by on private tuition, exam marking and odd bits of one-to-one I am sometimes lucky enough to pick up in local schools.
    If you had posted a couple of years ago asking about doing supply work in SE London, I would have said 'go for it!' and assured you that there was plenty of work about. However, now I can only say that I would advise you to think very carefully about whether you could manage financially with the uncertainity and lack of work, as day-to-day work at least seems to be dead on its feet. Of course, you might be lucky and pick up something longer term, such as a maternity cover, but that wouldn't give you the flexibility which you need and desire for your son.
    I'm sorry to sound so doom and gloom, but I'm just trying to give you a realistic picture of what the supply scene is like in SE London at the moment - obviously this is only my experience and others may have a different tale to tell. And in fairness, I am only currently registered with one (small) agency - signing up with multiple agencies or the larger ones might of course increase your chances of getting work.
    I do wish you luck if you decide to go down the supply route and hope that lots of work comes your way! Happy to chat about schools / agencies etc via PM too so feel free to contact me that way if you have any specific questions.
  2. slingshotsally

    slingshotsally Star commenter

    Hi Typhoon,
    Thank you for giving such a detailed and considered reply; I appreciate the time you have taken.
    I understand that this will be a hard road to take, and I shall have to sign on with many agencies- perhaps I would be able to get 3 days a week if I did so.
    Please let me know about exam marking as I may need to do some to get by.
    I thought of taking evening and part-time work in shops/supermarkets to get some cash in. That way my husband could look after our son, whilst I worked and I could take care of him during the day. I am not sure what I should do next to be honest.
    Nevertheless thank you for your reply.

  3. Typhoon

    Typhoon New commenter

    No worries, badlyparkedgirl (love your user-name, btw!) I hate to sound depressing, but from what I have read elsewhere on this forum, a regular 3 days per week, even in London sounds unlikely! (Just have a scroll down and read through some of the posts and you will see what I mean!) How much supply do your own school use at the moment? - that might be one way of assessing the potential situation. If your school is one of the sensible ones which still uses supply teachers for absence rather than covering with TAs / HLTAs or splitting classes (another penny-saving strategy I've frequently seen!) one possible way in for you might be to make the HTof your current school aware that you would be happy to do supply cover there (presuming of course that you would be!) You will have the advantage then of knowing the school, children and how it all works etc and the children of course would know you so it's a win-win situation. Also, if you asked, your head might be happy to put in a word for you with heads of other schools in your LEA who are needing supply or temporary, part-time cover.
    wrt exam marking, I mark KS2 SATS each year (Edexcel currently have the contract for this - they have probably recruited for this year, but it might still be worth contacting them / applying as they may well still be looking, even if only for reserve markers.) Straight after this finishes each year, I then mark GCSE English scripts (again, for Edexcel) - my qualification was initially in secondary English. The combination of both of these earns a quite reasonable amount, and I then use this to cover the gap during the summer months, when obviously there is no supply work and hence no pay. With the decreasing supply work this year, I've also just signed up for Functional Skills marking through City and Guilds, which when it starts should yield a steady trickle of work all year round. You can apply for any of these roles through the board's web-site.
    Have you considered private tutoring as well? You might be able to fit this in around your son, particularly if you were happy to tutor from home. I make a pretty good income from doing this and have found it a life-saver in these times of decreased supply work - one of my home-educated pupils comes for 5 hours per week, and this earns me the equivalent of a day's supply wage, plus can be done during school hours, so this might give you another option to consider, and would make far better use of your teaching skills (and pay better!) than working in a supermarket or shop.
  4. slingshotsally

    slingshotsally Star commenter

    Hi Typhoon,
    Your suggestions are enlightening and appropriate to the situation I find myself in at this particular moment in time.
    Before I leave my current school- who are due an OFSTED in this accademic year- I was going to place 4weeks of maths, literacy and foundation plans on their MLE (managed learning enviroment). As this would be a resource for the next teacher, and allow him/her to learn the ropes, and give the school a chance should there be an inspection soon.
    Perhaps they would consider giving me supply occasionally and the HT may put in a good word for me with other schools too.
    I will PM you just for some further advice, if you don't mind, regarding marking and how to go about tutoring as I need to get this organised quite soon.
    I am the main bread winner in the family and I just wasn't able to give 100% to the job I loved- my son's health is unpredictable and I need to be with him.
    Thanks again for replying.

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