Being a good supply teacher is a very fulfilling job regardless of whether you are primary or secondary supply teacher. Supply teaching offers great choice and flexibility to teachers and the schools that engage them.
Many supply teachers invest in keeping themselves up-to-date through regularly attending relevant CPD and continue to develop their resources to keep their lessons engaging and inspiring.
We find that good supply teachers who invest in their professional development are typically very busy most of the academic year. There is however a slight difference in terms of demand between primary supply teachers and secondary supply teachers in the final few months of the academic year.
Secondary schools are significant in their scale and in particular the number of pupils and staff required to enable the school to function efficiently. Some secondary schools have in the past been able to “over staff” by employing Cover Supervisors to fill in for unexpected teacher absences. We are finding that secondary schools are now recognising that this is an expensive approach compared to simply calling a supply teacher agency to fill unexpected absences with good qualified teacher.
This makes sense for the school who no longer carry the burden of underutilised cover supervisors and benefits the children by being taught by a qualified teacher. It can also reduce the overall cost to the school depending on amongst other things the absence level in the school.
As the academic year winds towards its close, exams kick in through June and July where the demand for staff in secondary schools to teach often reduces. This reduction in teaching to allow for the pupils to sit exams clearly has a knock on effect for secondary supply teacher demand, it inevitably reduces.
The same is not true for primary supply teachers. Most primary schools are “full on” into July running a normal timetable. Clearly primary schools are less inclined to “over staff” as they are smaller concerns with less capacity. The impact of a teacher absence in a primary school is not insignificant. Typically the primary school can handle a degree of shuffling around which often includes the head teacher having to step in, however this is not sustainable for most primary schools.
All schools are very protective over the care of their pupils and primary schools particularly. Schools want a teacher that is known to the school and children and is able to step in without disruption to normal running. For many primary school head teachers calling a supply teacher agency for help is a major step and we fully understand that. Our role is to make sure that the teachers we offer fit in well and engage well with the children and are wanted back next time round. When we do this everybody wins.
The demand for supply teachers from primary schools tends to carry on through June and into July and we have many secondary teachers that are experienced in teaching in primary schools too. The slowdown in demand for secondary supply teachers isn’t experienced by primary supply teachers for several reasons; obviously there are many more primary schools than secondary schools and even though they are smaller concerns they need teachers too, primary schools do not having swathes of exams, primary schools tend to not over staff and there are more primary head teachers recognising that primary supply teachers really do help.