If you are considering supply teaching, you might find it helpful to read Katie’s experiences of working for Exeter Supply Partnership.
For Katie, education has always played an important role in her life, and after finishing her Masters in Education and receiving her teaching certificate, she taught fourth grade, and then two years later, second grade, in a mountain town in Northern Arizona. After moving from Arizona to England, Katie joined Exeter Supply Partnership in 2018 and was soon offered a temporary contract at a local primary school in Exeter. Katie returned to ESP in 2021 and again was soon snapped up for a short term contract before returning again in September 2023.
Why did you choose to become a supply teacher?
After moving to England, I volunteered at a primary school in Exeter to gain experience of working in the classroom over here. The school then advised me to apply to Exeter Supply Partnership so that they could book me for their school as a supply teacher.
Why did you choose Exeter Supply Partnership?
Because ESP is a not for profit organisation and the school I volunteered with recommended ESP.
What do you wish you knew before beginning supply teaching?
I did some supply teaching back in the US so I had an idea of what to expect when I joined ESP.
What is your favourite thing about being a supply teacher?
I have enjoyed working as a primary supply teacher. I love the fact that you can go to different schools and see how they operate, and also gather lots of ideas. I have a note book that I use to record new ideas. I was at a school the other day and the teacher had planned an incredible lesson. I asked the school if I could take the planning sheet with me to use elsewhere as a resource. Supply is also a great way to meet other educators.
What are your favourite/most useful resources to use?
I have a subscription to Twinkle which I use occasionally and I always take a couple of story books with me that I can use as the basis for a lesson.
How do you prepare for your bookings?
I always have a look at the school documents ahead of attending such as the behaviour policy, marking policy and safeguarding policy. In my note book I have a section where I ensure I have the start and finish times, the name/s of the Designated Safeguarding Lead and any other useful information. Once I have attended a school, I will add any useful information to my book that could be helpful for my next visit.
What approach do you take when you are attending a new school?
I will look at the documents and policies for the school. I will also look at the school website which will often give you a feel for the school and how they operate. Sometimes when you arrive at a school, they may want you to cover a different age group than originally planned, so it is important to always go with a ‘can do’ attitude and an open mind.
Would you say supply teaching is an enjoyable/fulfilling experience?
Yes, I love it! I like going to new schools and meeting new groups of children. Some people might think that supply teaching is lonely, however I don’t find this to be the case as staff in schools are really friendly and I also find that there are very often other ESP teachers working in the same school as me.
What advice would you give to a teacher who is new to supply teaching/ considering supply work?
I would say that it is different than having your own classroom, so make sure that you are flexible and take every day as a new adventure. If one day doesn’t go so well, give it another go. Always be open for new experiences and your next adventure.
How do you manage the uncertainty of supply work and the possibility of not having work on some days?
This can be tricky; however I have been very fortunate in that I have been booked on most of the days that I have wanted to work. On the occasions that I am available for short notice bookings, I get up early so that I am ready for a booking. I always try to have a plan ‘B’ so that if I do not get a booking, I will have something else to do with the rest of my day.
Would you recommend ESP to other teachers? If so, why?
I couldn’t recommend it highly enough! I am always recommending ESP to others if they are thinking of doing supply. The ESP team have always been the most welcoming and caring people to work with; they take really good care of us and are always so supportive.
Exeter Supply Partnership (ESP) is a not-for-profit organisation linking supply teachers and their next job.
If you have QTS, a passion for teaching and a desire to move into supply work then ESP are here to help.
Perhaps you are newly qualified and looking to gain experience before joining a school full time. Maybe you’re looking to slow down and ease into retirement. Or possibly a parent trying to juggle work with a busy family life. Whatever your reasons may be, supply teaching offers flexibility and variety we we’d be delighted to help match you up with local primary schools. “ESP have become my ‘go to’ first choice for supply be it a last-minute request or planned ahead they couldn’t be easier to contact or more helpful. We can rely on quality teachers at the best rates. I would and regularly do recommend them to teachers and schools alike.” (School)