I’ve been working as a Supply Teacher for almost three years now. It’s my second stint on supply though in reality the first one didn’t last very long – I worked three days in three different schools then one of them gave me a six month maternity cover and I left nine years later . . .This time round I’m on supply for a number of reasons – working full time isn’t actually financially viable for me at the moment. The cost of childcare for three at this age is astronomical. At the point when I left my full time teaching job in Leeds my entire wage was used up on childcare costs and petrol (on a really bad month Dave would actually be paying out for me to go to work). When I left my job, financially all I gave up was my pension. This gave me the impetus to do something I might not have had the nerve to do otherwise. Giving up a full time permanent role is a very scary thing to do especially to make the move to the decidedly more unreliable and irregular wage that being on supply can bring.
Almost three years down the line I can honestly say it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I thought I’d share some of the reasons why I love being on supply at the moment:
1. Work life balance
We all know that teachers put in ridiculously long hours and are well known for bringing work home with them. I did that. I did that for years. Evenings, weekends, school holidays. Teaching is one of those jobs where there is always something more to do. As a supply teacher I go to work for around 8.15am (though on paper I start at 8.30am) and I’m finished by 4.45pm at the latest – officially I finish at 4pm but I often work a bit later than that to make sure I’ve finished everything. 4.45pm is the latest I can leave a school and collect my children on time from childcare. At 4.45pm when I leave school I’m done. There’s no marking or planning to do at home. That’s as close to 9 – 5 working as any teacher gets!
2. No staff meetings
Don’t get me wrong, staff meetings serve their purpose and there are times when I miss them but they do add a good chunk of time to the end of your working day. An hour or so staff meeting at my old school used to see me getting home from work two hours later than usual just because of the traffic at that time of day! I’m sure you can see why I don’t miss that!
3. No paperwork
Ok this isn’t strictly true, there is some paperwork involved in my job at the moment but nothing like to the same extent. I get to do all the best bits of the job – the actual teaching and working with children without getting bogged down in all the associated paperwork. I teach and I mark.
I don’t believe there is a single school, or work place in general come to that, where there isn’t some sort of staff politics going on. As a supply teacher I just don’t have to even know about it let alone get involved. One less thing to worry about.
5. Breadth of experience
I’ve been teaching for 12 years now and in that time I’ve taught pretty much every year group from Nursery through to Year 6 – this stands me in very good stead as a supply teacher as it means I really can turn my hand to anything. Being on supply means I get to go to all sorts of different schools and teach lots of different age groups – it means I get to know which schools I do and don’t like, which ages I prefer and means that should I decide I want to go back to full time teaching again I will have a good idea of what I’m looking for and where my strengths currently lie.
6. Flexible working
Teaching on supply means that, to a point, I can pick and choose when I work. I don’t have to go to work – I can tell my agency when I’m available and they will find me work (or at least do their very best!). This means that I can go to meetings, assemblies and events at Ben and Chloe’s school, I can take Amy’s birthday off to spend with her, I don’t even have to work on my own birthday if I don’t want to! (Of course I do have to consider the fact that if I don’t go to work I won’t get paid!) At the moment I only work a couple of days a week as this is all we have the childcare for – but the plus side of this is the time I get to spend at home, the school runs I never thought I’d get to do and the conversations I’m able to have with Ben and Chloe’s teachers at the end of their school day.
Oh and one extra one that’s a bit more personal to me – having commuted Manchester to Leeds for more years than I care to think about I love that driving to work now rarely takes more than 20 minutes after I’ve dropped the kids off. Hurrah for local working!
(You might also enjoy a post I wrote the other week: 8 signs you’re a supply teacher)