Supply teachers play a vital role in keeping schools running and preventing disruption to pupils’ education. From the perspective of educators, supply work offers an appealing degree of flexibility, allowing you to shape your working schedule around your other commitments. But supply is also a popular long-term career option for teachers looking to earn more and develop their skills.
Daily supply teachers are independent-minded and adaptable; when you’re dispatched to a new school each day, these qualities are part of the territory. But every professional in every field needs to be able to rely on a bedrock of support from elsewhere too. That’s where supply agencies come in.
What does a supply agency do?
Put simply, supply agencies like Protocol Education fill schools’ vacancies with supply teachers who have registered with them. Typically, teachers will register their CVs and contact details for free with the agency, who will then review their submissions and match them to the most appropriate jobs at nearby schools.
Schools like working with supply agencies because it makes it much easier to swiftly cover unplanned absences. Working with a reputable agency also gives schools confidence that whoever they take on will be of a high standard.
For the vast majority of supply teachers in the UK, supply agencies are integral to how they find work, boost their earnings and develop their careers. Here are 5 reasons why working with an established and reputable supply agency is your best route to thriving in a career as a supply teacher.
1. You will always get regular, quality work
First and foremost, supply agencies exist to find work for their registered educators. Any agency worth its salt will work with a large enough number of schools that there should be no shortage of vacancies available on any given day.
Agencies don’t just offer quantity and variety of work. They are staffed by specialist recruitment consultants, many of whom are ex-teachers themselves, who liaise closely and regularly with their partner schools. This gives them the insight to place registered candidates in the right jobs at schools where they’ll be the best fit.
In practice, this means supply teachers can take on as much paid work as they choose, uninhibited by worries about classroom nightmares or unsympathetic school leaders. A happy, content teacher is a better teacher (and a more employable teacher, to boot).
2. You can expect competitive rates of pay
It is a common misconception in the education world that supply teachers will always earn less than their counterparts in permanent roles. Yet daily supply teachers can earn over £1050 each week, while those working in Inner London can make the equivalent of a £67,000 annual salary (before tax and NI deductions).
Different agencies will offer different rates of pay, so it is important to make sure you register with a reputable agency that offers a competitive rate.
3. You avoid losing money to umbrella companies
A new and predatory type of supply teacher recruitment has gained a foothold in recent years. Under this model, teachers sign contracts with ‘umbrella’ companies who act as their legal employers when dealing with schools. Candidates are told they can expect higher pay or hoodwinked into believing that they simply have no other choice.
While these companies may tout a tasty rate, the end-of-week payslip typically tells a different story. Umbrella companies often slough off eyewatering sums in various deductions. These include payroll administration fees, commissions and, most gallingly, the National Insurance Contributions that would otherwise be paid by the employer.
What’s more, umbrella companies have been embroiled in tax avoidance schemes and even implicated in the “theft” of teachers’ furlough pay. the Unions like the NEU, NASUWT have voiced "grave concerns" about umbrella companies, while the TUC has called for them to be banned.
Unfortunately, many such operations masquerade as regular supply agencies. That’s why you should always make sure before signing up for roles that any agency you work with will calculate your pay slip through a normal PAYE system.
4. Supply agencies offer opportunities for professional development
The best supply agencies help their candidates do more than just work. They also nurture their talents by offering them the chance to expand their skillset and gain valuable qualifications.
At Protocol Education, we are proud to give all our registered teachers access to extensive Continuing Professional Development (CPD). We subsidise a large range of online and in-person training courses that build teachers’ knowledge of the most relevant areas of modern pedagogy.
As well as molding better teachers, CPD training allows supply teachers to point to recognised accreditations that boost their value and earning power in the job market.
5. You can build a positive reputation among local schools
One second-order benefit of regular work within a limited geographical area is the potential to build a profile and reputation among senior leaders at local schools.
If you go above and beyond schools’ expectations at every placement – arriving punctually, following lesson plans and collaborating with support staff - you may stick in headteachers’ memories and boost your chances of regular work at that school.
A strong local pedigree could also bear fruit for supply teachers looking to make a move into a permanent role. Senior leaders may look favourably upon job applications from familiar faces with a track record of delivering quality lessons in their classrooms.
Daily supply is a fulfilling career path for teachers, offering flexibility and variety. By partnering with a reliable and trustworthy supply agency, supply teachers can earn more money, find more work, grow their skills and build their reputations, while dodging exploitative set-ups that will leave them worse off.
As one of the UK’s leading educational recruitment agencies, Protocol Education finds quality work for thousands of supply teachers every week at schools across the country. If you’d like to join them, all you have to do is register with us.