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Supply Teaching and Low Pay

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by HPlester, Jul 26, 2019.

  1. HPlester

    HPlester New commenter

    I came out of a, permanent job at Christmas as it emerged I was expected to run a Department almost single handedly, including teaching virtually the whole school. All without recognition or pay increase I might add. I just didn't fancy the 60-70 hr week the job would become for me. I was struggling with the 50 I already did, plus I'd done nearly a year as an acting HOD. I've been teaching for 20 years, and I know a HOD job when I see one. You certainly wouldn't do it for free! Anyway back into supply I went, and having done it many years ago I was optimistic. Only, the job has change dramatically. The teaching rate of old was slashed in the first meeting, which shocked me. I was then contacted each week and asked whether I would accept part days as teacher or cover supervisor. I was often asked to go in late, leave early and often at the last minute the school cancelled. More often than not, no work was set, even in good schools, and students increasingly took me less seriously than ever before. Behaviour was worse than ever and class sizes so large they barely fit in the rooms. Added to this I've just been doing some sums. I actually earned £4000 less nett pay than 6 months in a permanent role. So to conclude, the job has gone, it is just a fill in until a teacher either goes back into the huge workload on offer in a permanent post, or else moves to a different career. Shame, but I thought I'd tell my story of recent experience.
  2. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    I like supply for the freedoms (and money) offered but clearly I'm a lot more fortunate than yourself.

    All the best wherever you end up.
    tonymars and pepper5 like this.
  3. bigwig1

    bigwig1 New commenter

    Twenty years ago, working in secondary schools, I was earning £145 a day for one days maths supply. Schools don't wish for teachers who care about students or wish to teach them to a high standard most are only after cover supervisors, to give out the work and keep the class relatively on task throughout the lesson. When a teacher is off on long term sick supply agencies still try to keep the daily rate as low as possible. In some part this is because there are more agencies and more competition for work within schools or schools have a contract for the agency to supply staff at a particular daily rate.
    Schools I have taught in recently, to focus resources, have slashed support in the lower sets and increased class sizes in years in years 7 to 9. In years 10 and 11 there is little effort, accept in the top set, to teach an understanding of how answers are achieved. This I believe is partly due to the poor discipline and concentration. School focus on tutoring pupils on method and remembering what they have seen on past papers. They also motivate year 11 by setting extra classes before and after school, for which teachers receive no thanks, no extra pay, but are expected to take part. In one school pupils receive a reward of pizza and potato wedges and this was every week, not just in maths. Borderline grade 4/5 pupils were withdrawn for additional lessons in groups of 4 or 5 incurring more cost. Marking exam papers takes time. Pupils are not only given an exam as a mock around about Easter time to check what progress they have made but some do this 3 or four times in years 11. Teachers are expected to mark these and supply feedback to students on there weak areas. This takes time away from planning lessons and puts additional strain on staff.
    The average age of maths teachers has reduced drastically as schools employ staff who accept what they are told to do and are willing to work the hours needed with complaint. I have been in at least four school where the maths departments have resigned and the school have quite happily employed younger staff, with a subsequent reduction in costs.
    I now work two or three days on general supply and am glad I made the decision to drop out of the system. The money is not good but its better than working 50 hours a week under extreme pressure.
  4. mrjack

    mrjack Occasional commenter

    I feel your pain OP, I'm at breaking point. But what do you do when you are in your mid forties ? go back to college ? retrain ? experience is not valued, the only thing that matters is money, that is all they care about. Tesco's yesterday, cover supervisor tomorrow. Teacher not required, move along now please... thanks for all your commitment and hard work now just Fuc£ £$$ and have a nice life.....
  5. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Anyone who has read the "My Horrible Day" thread will know a little about my story as a supply teacher for 10 years and my recent accident in a school, but I will not bore anyone with that as it is all in the thread starting from 11 March 2019. I became a supply teacher in January 2010.

    mrjack, in the 21 century, mid forties is young. Mr P and I have several friends and acquaintances in the business community who are in their 70s and one approaching 80 who are still working.

    I am significantly older than you and I am now applying for posts within the NHS and am thrilled to have an interview on Wednesday. At least I am in with a chance.

    You are correct: schools and agencies care only for the money. On the day of my accident, I was supposed to work the entire day, but because I missed the last lesson, the agency deducted the last lesson's pay from my wages. The union wasn't interested and I have had no support from them whatsoever.

    If I were you mrjack if you are in a position to do so, I would look into some free training BEFORE you reach breaking point which was my mistake as I should have left supply teaching years ago.

    It is possible to start again with some study, encouragement and vision.

    I have taken some free online courses at www.vision2learn.com but there are other free providers.

    It is not easy, but doable and I would suggest that if you have any desire at all to work for the NHS have a look into jobs in your local area as you might find something non clinical that you like, or if you are up for a BIG change and enjoy medicine, then you could retrain in a clinical role.

    There are, however, other roles outside the NHS too and you might have to retrain, but it is doable - one step at a time.
  6. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    Supply teaching is not good option it used to be ten or more years ago. The pay has not increased, there is less work around (thanks to the rise of cheaper unqualified teachers) and behavoiur has generally got worse.

    I left supply teaching over two years ago for a Civil Service job. Is only a modest grade but I earn significantly more then I did teaching. I also get a pension, paid leave and far less hassle.

    Its a pity the experience and resources I gained from almost twenty years in the role has been lost to teaching but I'm not losing anything and will not be returning.
  7. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    It is a pity all that knowledge and skill has been lost, but I do not blame you for not returning. Why would you want to return to what is now almost impossible to do without ruining your health?
  8. deirdrenicholls

    deirdrenicholls New commenter

    Can anyone recommend a good Supply Teaching Agency in North Oxfordshire, or is it better to contact schools direct? I just moved here...
  9. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    If you call around the schools and ask them for the names of the agencies they use and recommend that will show you a pattern of which ones are the better ones.

    Also start a new thread so other people see it and respond to you directly by private message. In the first instance,however, I would ring the schools.
    les25paul likes this.
  10. mrjack

    mrjack Occasional commenter

    Thanks to everyone who responded positively.
    pepper5 likes this.
  11. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Star commenter

    A point of interest, on the subject of low pay for Supply Teachers.
    In 1997 I was earning £85 a day doing day2day Primary supply in the Bristol area and being offered work virtually every single day by several Agencies. 22 years later I get £100 a day and there is a lot less work available, combined with more Supply Teachers looking for work. Some Supply Teachers that I meet are earning less than £100 and only working one or two days a week.
    Therefore, unless you have an alternative source of income, such as a pension, then day2day supply is probably still not a viable long term source of income for most people to live on.
  12. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Most peoplr would accept that day to day supply teaching wont be enough to live on unless you have additional income like a partner's wage, pension, or take in boarders.

    Where I live there is plwnty of work for day to day supply teachers but if you gave me £500 per day I would not do it because of the dangerous nature of the job: bullying, harrassment, threat of allegations, mobile phones and danger of being filmed. My stress levels are rising thinking about it.

    Really, there are a lot of opportunities for people who want something better.
  13. MissGeorgi

    MissGeorgi Occasional commenter

    Depends so much. Always, always, put your foot down over unfair pay. There will always be a decent school which wants quality over cheap rates.

    On a long term supply contract, over 12 weeks, the agency legally has to pay you the Agency Worker’s Rate (AWR) to scale. So MPS 6 is £179.50. I did a lovely long term in a school in West Midlands and I was paid this.
    agathamorse, les25paul and pepper5 like this.
  14. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    True but the agency can be very creative as to what is ‘to scale ‘ the school could also decide to sack you rather than paying the extra that the agency would pass on.

    My view is to accept any peanuts for week 1 and then push for the ‘correct ‘ rate after. Easy for me as I’m maths/science in West Yorkshire but better than accepting peanuts for the whole 12 weeks.
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  15. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    This is what we all need to do, walk out when the job can't be cut below 70 hours a week. Unfortunately, easier said than done.
    JohnJCazorla and agathamorse like this.

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