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When does supply work pick up?

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by Sabeena, Oct 4, 2015.

  1. Sabeena

    Sabeena New commenter


    I still haven't had any work this term. I've heard it gets busy around mid October, I do dislike not knowing which days I will be working.

    I do hope work picks up soon.
  2. Twinklefoottoe

    Twinklefoottoe Senior commenter

    It depends where you are and what you teach, I guess. Secondary Maths, Computer Science, Chemistry and Physics, for example can more less work as and when they like, and if my current supply teacher is anything to go by, can potentially earn a lot more than standard teachers. Our new Computer Science one is charging us £230 a day via their company. She is very good, and we are desperate for someone who knows what they are doing, and they have nearly a pure teaching role without all the pointless extras the make no difference to anyone! And I've just resigned on Friday so will be doing this myself in the new year.

    bostonbill1982 likes this.
  3. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    That's one of the big downsides to supply- never knowing when/if one will get work. Definitely always used to get busier after a few week's back as the germs start passing around. However one never knows. there was one disastrous year when I had just one half-day at the end of November the entire term. I was desperate by then and it did lead on to other work the next term so half a day was worth it.
    Good job I wasn't reliant on wages to pay my bills though. And of course thanks to my wonderful, supportive husband who kept me going and didn't force me to give up my teaching.
  4. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Twinkle makes some good points: if you are maths, chemistry, physics or MFL then you are going to pick up work more quickly and it also depends on which area of the country you are in and how long you have been working as a supply teacher.

    It does appear to be very busy between January and the summer; by then, teachers are starting to be tired and there are many off ill long term from stress and are deciding what to do.

    I've been blessed this term to have worked 3-4 days per week, but every day I worry that I won't get any work the next week. However, it isn't just about teaching shortage subjects; as a supply teacher you have to be able to adapt to difficult classes and schools want people who are able to go in and cover almost any subject and keep the classes on task.

    Part of the nature of supply is you never know what days you will be working unless you are pre-booked or on a long term assignment; that is just the way it is since schools can't always predict or know when a teacher is going to be off ill or have an emergency they have to attend to. Supply isn't really ideal if you don't have a partner to pick up the slow times. I've done supply for a long time since the alternative is office work for me which I find mind numbing, so I've stuck with it since I have made enough to scrape through along with what my husband earns. I don't think if I had been in a different area of the country I would have been able to keep going.

    All I can say is don't worry as it will eventually pick up and when you do get work give it a 110% so you will get repeat bookings which is what you need; and which also may lead to a long term contract if that is what you want. Take the slow times to read up on your subject areas you are weak in or on behaviour management or other areas where you want to learn more about. That way when you do get work you have a slight edge on everyone else.

    Trust you get some work this week. In the meantime, I know I suggest this book all the time, but if you do have some spare time, you might like to read Taking Care of Behaviour by Paul Dix it is a really good book on behaviour management. Also, On the Edge by Charlie Carroll is an interesting book about a supply teacher's experiences who worked undercover in schools all over England to find out why so many teachers were leaving the profession.

    Take care and please let us all know when you get work.
  5. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    It depends on what you mean by 'supply teaching'. I am an ex-science teacher living in NW London and over the last week or so, I have been sounded out about long term positions but the money on offer is pathetic. Why I would want to do the same job that broke me three years ago (and, by all accounts, is now even worse) for £40 - 50 per day? Day-to-day supply and assignments of a few weeks almost never crop up near enough to me to make it worthwhile. As Pepper said, a lot depends on the area in which you live. London is one of those places where the demand for teachers might be slightly higher but the supply of teachers (and tutors, come to that) vastly outstrips that demand, so there is little work to go around, and pay rates are terrible.
  6. PizzoCalabro

    PizzoCalabro Established commenter

    I started working as a supply teacher last October, 4 agencies and had secondary work offered every day. This with 2 agencies and one direct school and have had work for the two weeks I have been available )( don't know how it would have been first week in Sept - was on holiday till 13th :) )
    Work in South London.
  7. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    You are doing much better then me Pizzo. In the past three years, I have joined twice as many agencies and only one has given a very sporadic drip of work, and that only a few days a term , if that. I wish I knew what I was doing wrongly.
  8. ysafder

    ysafder New commenter

    I have to say, I feel relieved that I am not the only one who feels this way even though I wish we all didn't.

    This is all new to me so I am growing more and more unsettled by the day. On the days I don't get work (which have been all of them bar 4 this term), I can't help but feel down and useless and like I have wasted the day.

    I'm sorry I don't know when it will pick up but I hope that it is soon - I have rent and bills to pay at the very least and £50 per week is not gonna cut it.
  9. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi ysafder

    One thing you might try to top up the supply work is private tuition. I am registered on two tutoring sites and I have started to get a few enquiries. You can also post on sites like gumtree for free and I have also obtained students that way. You can charge about £20.00 per hour so the money can be quite good to top up your supply work.

    Although you may be registered with agencies, there is nothing stopping you from contacting schools directly. In addition, you may wish to register with some other recruitment agencies that do administrative work. You could just do day to day so you are available if nothing comes in for supply; the pay will be lower, but at least it is something coming in. Even waitressing/waiting on the weekends is something to top up your money if you are in a physically fit state to do it. Christmas is fast approaching so you could work weekends in retail stacking shelves and do supply during the week if your circumstances permit it. If you have a young family or other commitments that of course won't work, but if you are on your own it is something to think about.

    For the longer term, you might want to think about starting up another alternative income stream like network marketing or a small business using some of your skills and interests.Spending time in looking for other ways to make money will make your days a bit more interesting and fruitful and hopefully will help you feel like you are doing something useful with our time while you are waiting for supply to pick up.

    It is only a little into 3 weeks into the new year and it will start to become busier.
  10. emmalcm1

    emmalcm1 Established commenter

    I've been doing cover supervisor work 3-4 days a week for the last 3 weeks rather than holding out for teaching work. I don't like doing it since realistically I end up doing pretty much the same amount of work most of the time, just for less money, but it's a way to pay the bills. It's worth trying to get friendly/ chatty with agency consultants, sometimes it just makes you stand out to them when they're looking for someone to send on a job. It seems to be generally busier after October half term in my experience, I live in the Northwest.
  11. supply287

    supply287 New commenter

    In the last 15 years I have been doing it , it should have picked up by now. Though I have heard and read it many times, I think this year is not good, giving cause for concern because last year I worked more or less every day.
  12. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Wow...supply287...15 years. You must have so much experience and wisdom if you have worked as a supply teacher for that many years. I have only been doing supply for six years.

    We can't know the future and have to take one day at a time. Each year I have worked as a supply it has been slow in the first term and starts to pick up after mid October. One of the agencies In work for say their busiest time is Jan through to April and they know since they probably monitor it so they can track the activity form business reasons.

    I don't think it is time to panic yet, but it always wise to try to have a backup plan and multiple income streams if possible like a small business on the side or private tuition.
  13. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    This is the bit they didn't tell you about in the glossy adverts. Yes, there certainly is plenty of opportunity to fit your own life and interests in around supply teaching and there really is flexibility. It's all semantics, and a reinterpretation reads, you won't get offered any work for months on end.

    I have noticed that this year, the bigger agencies are recruiting overseas - Canada, SA, Oz and NZ and actually bringing in cohorts of graduates en bloc, because graduates from these countries mostly have English as their mother tongue and have been educated in a compatible system and it's easier to get work permits. I went into my agency at the start of term only to see stacks of rucksacks and holdalls against the walls. I was told the Canadians had just arrived.
    If you are/were one of those recruits please get in touch. I am given to believe that the publicity promised a bit more than it is delivering in terms of where you get sent to teach, how much workload, what kind of accommodation you get, how much you are paid, the cost of living etc.
    One young graduate teacher told me (yes, it's just hearsay) that for him it was really a paid holiday that could be used as a CV item. He had no intention of staying and just wanted to travel Europe and break even on the costs. Who can blame him? He was not prepared to say what he was being paid but I suspect it was less than an NQT.
    It looks to me that a lot of people were recruited on the last drive. I'm all for global mobility of the workforce, but not if it means that overseas candidates are being exploited.
    How thorough was the interview, how much pre-briefing were you given about UK schools and the curriculum, are you being mentored or trained in your placement?

    I feel this is relevant to this thread as it is once again redefining the job of supply teacher and further obscuring what is expected of us or how much it is worth. I'm all for bringing young teachers into the profession. We need them. But they are clever, ambitious people who won't stick around if they get a rotten deal.
    snowyhead likes this.
  14. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    I often wonder whether there is some form of bias operating against 'home grown' supply teachers, from agencies, schools, or both.
  15. elvispenhaligon

    elvispenhaligon Occasional commenter


    Nearmiss, did I just read that????!!!?!?!

    Christ on a bike.

    You throw the chips around everywhere and the seagulls will come. The british government has a duty to facilitate employment of it's own un/underemployed FIRST and sort legislation out around that. Having an agency set up a teaching travel firm is taking the p ss. I am not supply teaching because work dried up, I take this as head on offence. Of course they will be paying joke rates and it is a scandal, otherwise, how do you alter the staff/CS balance any other way but on an invoice?

    It's quite clear that UK govt doesn't give a toss about it's workers. Witness employment agencies, I gather this is not tolerated across the EUSSR. Blinking disgusting tapeworm organisation facilitated by a troughing, insulated and irrelevant political class. GRRRRR
  16. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    I went to a school for what I had been told my agency would be two days of covering science. I arrived at the school, collected my timetables and went off to find the labs. I was just getting myself sorted when someone came in, apologised for the 'mistake', and handed me a revised timetable comprising 'odds and sods' of other subjects. It was an exhausting five lessons of crowd control, one being a drama group in the corner of the school hall!
    pepper5 likes this.
  17. supplybychoice

    supplybychoice New commenter

    Be thankful they didn't just send you home.
  18. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Yes....some schools would do that. It has happened to me twice in six years, so it is rare, but does happen. Some places would not care how far you had travelled or whether or not you had turned other work away. Schools like that are evil.
  19. deen30

    deen30 New commenter

    It's been really quiet am glad am not the only one finding it slow hope it picks up soon. One thing I hate is agencies advertise for positions to get you to register then myseriously the post is internally filled.
  20. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    It will pick up....it always has. It is just waiting that is hard.

    When it is slow I try to brush up on different subjects or study things that will help me in the classroom.

    I had a dentist appointment today so had to turn work away. Tomorrow I have work but In don't known avouf Friday. This year I am definitely going to try and save for the summer.
    deen30 likes this.

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