What to expect if you’re a teacher going from permanent to supply teaching?

What to expect if you're a teacher going from permanent to supply teaching

Making the move from permanent to supply teaching can be a nerve-wracking prospect for some teaching professionals.

The belief has long been that making the jump to supply teaching brings with it a sense of uncertainty, removing that security blanket that a full time, permanent teaching position provides.

But, with the right support and knowledge of the role, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Of course, there are significant differences between moving to a permanent position to opting for the supply teaching route. 

But, for many, the new territory that is supply teaching provides hard-working teachers with more control over their hours and flexibility, something which the majority of permanent roles can’t always offer.

So, if you’re undecided about which path to follow in your teaching career, the team at Teachers First wants to equip you with the knowledge to decipher which role is best suited to you.

Being an invaluable asset to schools and the teaching sector, supply teachers are a great safety net for establishments looking for temporary help due to staff shortages or illness.

And with such a huge importance of the role of a supply teacher, it’s worth understanding what exactly will be expected of you as you take this new step in your career.

But, before you take the plunge, and make the career change to supply teaching, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of the role.

So, what are the pros of supply teaching?


Employment as a permanent member of staff comes with a lot of responsibility.

These additional admin tasks can be very time consuming, and, for someone wanting to move away from permanent employment, just focusing on the job of hand, teaching, becomes a major positive for those looking at supply work.

Supply teaching also offers the flexibility of not being tied down to one school, opening up opportunities to experience work life in a variety of different school environments.

What’s more, there’s also the opportunity to put more of a focus on your family or personal life, offering more of a work-life balance. 

This is because, as and when contracts end, you can pause and take a break from employment, and easily find work again when you need to, something that no permanent teaching role could ever provide.

Gaining invaluable experience

Just like many job roles, being a temporary member of staff provides plenty of opportunities to gain invaluable experience in a range of school settings.All students bring their own challenges to face. This gives supply staff the chance to think up new ways of teaching, equipping them with the ability to transfer the knowledge they learn elsewhere and apply this in other establishments.

It also offers supply teachers insider access to different schools, allowing them to be able to pick the right establishment to suit their strengths and style of teaching.

There may be the chance to transition to a permanent position

For some, supply teaching is a chance to explore schools in the area to find one that suits you; whether that’s the right culture, teaching style or the fellow members of the teaching staff.

So, following a successful period as a supply teacher, showing your dedication and ability, it may mean that you make great relationships with schools in the local area, who keep you in mind when looking for their next full-time member of staff.

This gives supply teachers the chance to show off their skills, with less of the pressure to showcase this in an interview situation. 

What’s more, it also gives the teacher the chance to see if the school is the right fit for them, without the consideration of the long term commitment of taking on a full-time role beforehand.

What are the cons of supply teaching?

Taking on similar responsibilities as permanent teachers

Although you will only be taking on the position of a supply teacher, you may still be expected to fulfil the responsibilities that a permanent teacher would have to, but this can often depend on the length of the booking.

From creating your own lesson plans that seamlessly fit into the student’s current scheme of work, to marking and providing constructive feedback, some supply teachers choose to move to supply teaching to get away from this admin work that comes with a full-time role.


But, in most schools, full time members of staff can very often pick up the workload of a supply teacher, and, particularly in secondary school teaching, where you move from class to class, lesson plans will likely be a thing of the past.

This is because the expectation of being present in lessons is vital in this type of school environment, making the focus on teaching over marking.

Supply teachers will most likely want to review their students’ work though, making comments and providing marks to benefit the full-time member of staff as and when they return.


Being part of a team can very often keep us going in work situations, and for temporary supply teachers, this lack of comradery can be greatly missed as they move from school to school.

The same goes for the students, where seeing them grow and develop following your input as a teacher can bring the buzz that many teachers love as part of their job.

Although you may miss this team atmosphere, some supply teacher long-term contracts can last for a considerable amount of time, allowing you to still have the personal connections you long for in a job role.

Not always a guarantee of work

Permanent teaching positions, as we mentioned, do come with a safety blanket of a guaranteed wage each month.

And although supply teaching doesn’t guarantee when the next job will come through, with a shortage of teachers across the country, the chances of being without a role at a given time are quite unlikely.

This slight disadvantage of being out of work for a certain period of time can also give you the opportunity to rebuild your skills, and even take time out from the stressful profession that is teaching.

You can take a break from the role, and start again feeling refreshed and prepared, which is something many teachers would appreciate with such a demanding job.

As a partner with supply teacher agencies across the UK, here at Teachers First, we provide payroll services to ensure you get paid correctly and on time throughout your contract at a particular school.

To find out more about our payroll practices, and how we work with agencies to support supply teachers, please click here.