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Finding Your Niche in Supply

28/06/16

Do you have increasingly less time for your specialist subject? Nigel shares with us his experience searching for his perfect role.

Do you have increasingly less time for your specialist subject? Nigel shares with us his experience searching for his perfect role.Depending on your personal agenda – and to a greater extent the agenda of the institution calling on your skills, it is possible to secure a role that matches your current needs.

My own experience has led me to have a little more faith in the possibilities out there, which can occur through the avenue of supply teaching.
I started my life in supply teaching in 2013, after returning from a two year stint teaching abroad. Prior to that – I held a long-term post at a FE college. Being an A-level specialist does have its pros and cons, in that schools in particular may require you to deliver your specialism, plus another subject across the wider curriculum. My subject specialism is Psychology, though I have a second ‘string to my bow’ in Philosophy/Religious Studies.
As a consequence, I have often being asked to teach psychology, ‘with a little RS in lower school.’ The truth is, one’s timetable can be balanced less in favour of your chosen subject, as schools will inevitably try to utilise you to the max.
However, I personally found it challenging to manage classroom behaviour in lower school.

A bout of illness earlier in the year resulted in my current school reducing my timetable to just the single psychology class I had. My Line Manager was very supportive, and such was the need for my specific skills that they were desperate to keep me on in that particular role; my sixth-formers also pleaded with me to stay. Hence, it has been a very rewarding year, with a much welcome reduction in stress levels. I’ve actually had the time to embrace and enjoy teaching my subject, without feeling like I’ve been in the factory all day long.

Whilst the school and students would like me to continue next academic year, it is dependent on student numbers, which is as yet unknown. I am of course realistic about the future – as well as the fact that I would prefer a few more hours on the timetable to make it financially viable.
The point I want to emphasise however, is that this could, or still might develop into the perfect role for me; I no longer wish to work in full-time teaching due to some personal aspirations. It is also quite difficult to find a role that matches your exact requirements through the usual channels.
Therefore, it has only been through my role as a supply teacher that this opportunity may yet become more permanent.

In conclusion, what I would most like to share with my fellow professionals: supply teaching can offer a freedom and flexibility. Of course I appreciate that everyone’s circumstances are different, but if you are looking to make a change in your work-life balance next academic year, then why not give it a go? You may just find your niche.


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