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Supply teaching or a permanent role? Which is right for you?

  • Publish Date: Posted almost 2 years ago

Becoming a teacher is a noble profession. It offers the chance to make a real difference in children's lives and helps shape their future. But it's not always an easy job. It takes hard work, dedication, and patience. Lesson planning can run late into the night, marking homework takes up yet more personal time, and no one understands how much preparation work happens in the time everyone assumes you are on holiday. Yet despite all this work, nearly 625,000 full-time teachers are happy to get up and go to work every day.

But for some, the decision on whether to go for the security of a full-time teaching role is not so clear cut, and they contemplate the opportunities and rewards of the supply teacher role.

The decision of whether to become a supply teacher or to take on a permanent teaching role can be a difficult one. Each option has pros and cons, and it ultimately comes down to what is best for you and your career.

Supply teaching can be an excellent option for those who want the flexibility to choose when and where they work. You can take on as many or as few supply teaching roles as you like, and you are not tied to any one school or location. This can be ideal for teachers who want to experience working in different schools or have other commitments that make a full-time, permanent role difficult.

However, supply teaching can also be unpredictable and insecure. You may not always be able to find work, and the pay can be variable, as a survey by TES revealed. The TES results indicated that 26% of supply teachers earned less than £100 per day, with 82% overall reporting an income below £160 per day. This means that most supply teachers, even if they work every school day, earn between £18,750 and £30,000 annually. You won't have the same opportunities for career progression as you would in a permanent role, so this income is unlikely to rise.

Permanent teaching roles, on the other hand, offer more stability and security, but they can also be less flexible. You will usually be tied to one school and location, and you may have less control over your working hours. However, you will be guaranteed a regular income and the opportunity to progress in your career. Starting Salaries for Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) begin at £25714 but can rise to £41604, plus additional awards for various responsibilities.

So, which is right for you? The decision depends on your circumstances and preferences. Many Supply teachers report that they enjoy the flexibility of their work, while others find the insecurity and lack of career progression a struggle. If you are looking for stability and the opportunity to progress in your career, then a permanent teaching role may be the best option. If you aspire to become a head teacher, the permanent role is the only way forward. But if you want the freedom to choose when and where you work, then supply teaching could be the right choice.

Consider what is important to you and what would suit your lifestyle best before making a decision.