6 reasons why I love being a supply teacher

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.

4. No staff politics

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!

Find more posts about my experience as a supply teacher here:

The downsides to being a supply teacher

8 signs you’re a supply teacher

Why I will continue to supply teach

Supply teaching – Six ways to get rebooked


  1. April 22, 2015 / 8:53 am

    It sounds like you have the best job…..

    • April 22, 2015 / 3:27 pm

      It wouldn't suit everyone but for me, right now, it's perfect.

  2. April 22, 2015 / 9:19 pm

    You job sounds like it gives you such a good balance, the best of lots of worlds x

    • April 24, 2015 / 9:51 am

      It certainly feels that way right now.

  3. Jo Nicholson
    April 23, 2015 / 6:58 am

    You really do make supply teaching sound appealing, but I've seem how the kids at my school treat supple staff (and we're a "good" school) and it does put me off. Maybe that's a secondary thing xxx

    • April 24, 2015 / 9:53 am

      I've certainly had my share of tricky kids who don't care "cos you're just a supply" – you do need to be a strong teacher to make supply work I think. It helps that I do lots of work in the same schools so I become "known" almost.

  4. April 23, 2015 / 9:55 am

    I have recently handed in my notice to become a stay at home mum after 10 years of secondary teaching and have just written a post about my decision. You make some great points about being a supply teacher, a job that I find many teachers tend to look negatively on due to the unpredictable nature of it, the pay (in Scotland supply teachers are at the bottom of the pay scale regardless of experience) and how the kids can treat supply staff. It is great that you have found something that works for you in terms of both family and work life! #sharewithme

    • April 24, 2015 / 9:54 am

      I do earn less than if I was teaching in a permanent post and the unpredictable nature of it can be tricky – especially financially but right now the benefits far outweigh the negatives for me.

  5. April 23, 2015 / 5:24 pm

    I am jobless. One time when I was volunteering to eventually get to work, its so hard to get someone to take care of my son that I have to leave the volunteer work. I am lacking support. I think that this job is so good because of the advantages here. I hope that one day I can find something that will work for me as well. #sharewithme

    • April 24, 2015 / 9:54 am

      I hope you are able to get something sorted. Childcare is by far my biggest barrier to work too.

  6. April 24, 2015 / 8:07 pm

    It's a MUCH better job than it used to be as teacher's have to leave you work – in the past you had to teach off the cuff, with nothing left for you – my Mum used to do that!

  7. April 24, 2015 / 8:33 pm

    I don't blame you for giving up teaching full time , my step mum is a secondary school teacher and she always seems to be bringing work home and working longer hours all the time. One of the reasons i am giving up my job is all my wages will go on childcare for my little two and two nursery places was going to cost £80 per day which is more then i would earn, i'm thinking of working for a agency too ( i work in social services) x

  8. April 25, 2015 / 12:47 am

    I think teachers (especially supply teachers) get kind of a raw deal. You always hear people saying things like "oh but you only work 9-3" Its good to find posts like this that contradict that notion. It sounds like a fab job and by moving around it'll never get boring!

  9. April 25, 2015 / 3:13 pm

    It's great when you can have a job you are passionate about and love and also fits perfectly with family life. So happy for you hunny. Sounds like a great experience. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

  10. April 27, 2015 / 1:00 am

    I can totally appreciate these reasons. I used to know a nurse (I'm a long-term psychiatric inpatient) who worked as a substitute for very much the same reasons. No staff politics, flexible work, less paperwork, and indeed the breadth of experience. She was the kind of nurse who didn't get along well with the management, so the advantage was when she couldn't get along somewhere, she'd work somewhere else.

  11. April 28, 2015 / 6:24 pm

    It sounds like you have that perfect work/life balance! I'm envious but also super chuffed for you! lol! Thanks so much for linking up! #MMWBH

  12. May 1, 2015 / 5:49 am

    Sounds brilliant! My mum did some supply work for a while after HAVING to leave her old job (because they were mean!) and while she didn't want to do it, it actually was the best thing for her and lead to getting a new full-time position. I think you have to be confident in yourself and not mind meeting new people, but as you say, it can be really flexible! Good for you 🙂

    thanks for linking up to #TheList xxx

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