supply teacher survey - 4myschoolsThe National Union of Teachers NUT’s recent June 2015 supply teacher survey results offer some interesting findings from 6.5% (1,300 members) of their supply teacher membership that responded to their online survey. Here are some of the findings.

What is the main reason for working as a supply teacher?

The largest single categories were those teachers citing “lifestyle choice” reasons for supply teaching – to fit with family or personal circumstances or other work/study commitments – and those teachers who no longer want a permanent teaching job.

For 2015, 27% of respondents no longer want a permanent teaching job – while a further 26% cite lifestyle choice.

This shows a further fall in the proportion of supply teachers whose main reason for working as a supply teacher is the inability to find permanent employment – this fell to 18%, from 21% last year and over 25% in 2010. Suggesting there are more jobs available but these respondents are less likely to want to take a permeant contract position with a school.

For those employed through agencies, the inability to find a permanent post was the largest single category, although still below 30%. There were many fewer retired teachers among agency teachers, since retired teachers continue to be more likely to work directly with schools.

Getting work as a supply teacher

70% of supply teachers go to a supply teacher agency to find work. The proportion of supply teachers saying they mainly obtain work through agencies continues to rise at just under 70%.

Agency work is the principal route for 69% of respondents, up from 67% in 2014 and from 50% in 2010.

Less than 8% now mainly get work through a local authority “supply pool”.

22% get work directly with schools, down from 25% last year and 39% in 2010.

One stills hears of local authorities setting up complicated Preferred Supplier Lists and supply pools for local schools. These don’t tend to last long and simply cost the local authority a lot of time and effort for both schools and teachers to simply continue to do their own thing. Some local authorities contract with the selected preferred supplier list agencies to return a fee to the local authority for being on the preferred list which is a further expense to schools.

Satisfaction with agencies – the advantages

The survey asked those working for agencies about the advantages of seeking supply teaching work in this way.

As previously, they replied that the main perceived advantage was access to more regular supply teaching work.


Supply teachers were asked about their experience with schools and the support they receive on and after arrival.

Most agency teachers continue to be satisfied with support from schools, with 68% “usually” satisfied and 6% “always” satisfied, but this leaves a quarter who are “rarely” or “never” satisfied. The issues most commonly reported include: lack of information about individual pupils 75%; lack of access to teaching resources 68%; lack of access to planned work 58%; and lack of a named manager/contact 52% at the school.

No great surprises in the NUT 2015 survey although an interesting trend for supply teachers getting nearly 70% of their work through agencies and the increasing trend continues for supply teachers not wanting to take on a permanent contract role presumable on the positive side because supply teachers want flexibility and variety in the where they work and who they teach.