Most Asked Supply Teacher Questions Answered

Considering a career in teaching? Keen to find out more about becoming a supply teacher and what the role involves? Find out more… 

Whether you work in a primary or secondary school, teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs. Not only do you have the opportunity to help pupils develop and learn, but you also encourage, support, and inspire young people for educational needs. 

If you’re interested in a career in education but would like to take control of your career and enjoy a better work-life balance, then a supply teacher role could be the perfect option. Supply staff covers the period of absence of a permanent teacher or could be used by a school in-between hiring. This means you could be in a supply teaching role for varied periods, from days to months. 

Here is the ultimate guide to everything you should know about becoming a supply teacher, including pay and agencies. 

How to become a supply teacher 

The requirements to become a supply teacher are very similar to those to become a full-time teacher in primary schools or secondary school settings. Therefore, if you’re already a qualified teacher, moving into a supply role is a lot more straightforward. 

If you are not yet a qualified teacher and are considering a career change, you will need a 2:2 degree or above and Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) through Initial Teachers Training (ITT). BEd, BA/BSc, and PGCE with QTS are the recognised teaching qualifications. 

As well as the standard requirements to becoming a supply teacher, if you are looking to teach at a secondary school, you will need a degree in the subject you plan to teach. Even if you have a degree in your teaching subject, you may still be required to enroll in a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course before your initial teacher training. 

What is supply teacher pay

Generally, supply staff are supplied by agencies and are not employed by the school, academy, or local authority. For this reason, they are not covered by the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Documents (STPCD). This means that their pay is determined by the agency they work for, and agency pay rates are usually much lower than those employed directly by schools or academies. 

Research carried about by NEU of their supply member survey in 2021 found that more than half of the teachers were paid less than £125 per day. Only seven percent were paid over £150 per day. 

This means that with an average daily rate of £100 for a year, supply staff will earn more than £6000 less than a newly qualified full-time teacher. However, while salaries are lower for supply staff, they enjoy more flexible hours and can even work part-time. 

Where to find supply teacher jobs 

One of the easiest ways to find and secure supply teaching jobs is to join an agency. Schools and academies usually go straight to agencies when they need teachers to cover. Therefore, it isn’t necessary to join teacher supply agencies, but it is a much easier and more convenient way of securing supply work. 

You must do your research when deciding on the right supply teaching agency for you, and we recommend that you get some recommendations from others in the industry. Word of mouth is always a good recommendation source in the supply industry, and if you don’t know anyone who can give you local advice, you can always reach out to the Tes forum. 

What rights does a supply teacher have? 

In a supply role employed directly by an academic or school, they will receive the same rights as any other employee. These benefits and protections include: 

  • Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) membership 
  • Redundancy payments following two years of continuous service 
  • Pay according to the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document 
  • Unfair dismissal protection after two years of employment. 

However, if you are hired through supply teacher agencies, have no employment protection, and can have your placement terminated on 24 hours’ notice. Agency-hired supply teachers also cannot join the Teachers’ Pension Scheme. However, this changes when the supply teacher 12-week rule comes into play. However, there may be agency workers regulations that may apply to certain supply roles.  

The supply teacher 12-week rule refers to the principle that following 12 weeks continuously in the same role with the same hirer agency employed, supply teachers are entitled to the same ‘basic’ conditions of pay as if they had been employed directly by the school itself. 

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