Supply teaching vs. permanent teaching – which one is right for you?

Teaching jobs aren’t one-size-fits-all.

When you begin your job search, you not only need to decide what location and school type you’d like to work in, but also whether a supply teaching or a permanent role is more suited to you.

We spoke to the experts at recruitment firm Randstad, who let us know the key differences between supply teaching and permanent teaching – and how to tell which one is right for you:


What is a supply teacher?

A supply teacher works on a temporary basis, covering the role of a permanent teacher.

As a supply teacher, you could be working in multiple schools on day-to-day assignments, or you could be providing long-term cover to one school in particular, for example as maternity cover.

You’ll need to make yourself available frequently, and be confident in working in a variety of classroom situations.


Supply teaching vs. permanent teaching

Often, supply teachers will have the same teaching and preparation responsibilities as a permanent member of staff. For example:

  • Preparing lesson plans that match the school’s scheme of work
  • Teaching in line with the national curriculum
  • Assessing and marking pupils’ work
  • Providing feedback to pupils


Despite these similarities, the key difference between supply teaching and being permanently employed is that, with the latter, you’ll be committed to one school, meaning you’ll be able to establish long-term relationships with staff, students and parents.

As a supply teacher, the length of time that the teacher will spend with the group of students will be significantly shorter than as a permanent teacher, and this lack of continuity can be challenging.

Additionally, as a supply teacher, you’ll need to consistently adapt your teaching style to meet the changing needs of different situations, schools, subjects and age groups.


Why become a supply teacher?

If you are at the start of your teaching career, supply work can provide a fantastic opportunity to gain the experience to build an excellent teaching career.

Or, if you are returning to teaching after a break, in can be the perfect way to get back into the swing of the classroom environment. Alternatively, if you want to teach around your other personal commitments, then supply teaching is the also the way forward.

Additionally, supply teaching can be the perfect springboard into securing a permanent teaching position.


What are the benefits of supply teaching?


Supply teaching will give you inside access to a huge variety of schools – allowing you to ensure that you pick the right one for your induction.


Flexibility and variety

You can build your teaching days around your personal life and take full control of work-life balance, whilst test driving lots of different classroom settings to see if they are the right fit for your strengths.


Long term assignments

A long term placement will typically last between six weeks and a year, without the commitment of a permanent contract (you’ll still be expected to plan, prepare and mark).


Transition to a permanent position

Once you start supply teaching, it can make it easier for you to make the move to a permanent role.

For example, more than 1000 teachers a year are taken on permanently after working as supply teachers with Randstad. And as you’ll build friendships in many local schools, you’ll have the opportunity to demonstrate your commitment and worth to a number of heads of department and senior staff.


Why choose a permanent teaching job?

There are many benefits to being employed permanently, including:


Guaranteed work

As a permanent teacher, you’ll be able to rest assured knowing that each day you’ll have a school to return to that you know and love.



It can be easier to settle into a routine in your personal life if your work life is also in a routine.



You’ll know exactly what you’re earning, so it may be easier for you save for the future (as well as spend in the short term).


Career progression

It can be easier to move up the career ladder at a school if you’re a permanent member of staff, as you’ll get to know your department and your working environment inside out.


Continuity and teamwork

By teaching the same students each day, you’ll be able to see them progress and achieve, which can be very rewarding.

You’ll also get the opportunity to work closely with the same group of teachers each day, you’ll start to feel part of a team, and may enjoy your job even more.


If you’d like to find out more about how to transition from supply teaching to a permanent teaching position, get in touch with a Randstad specialist today.



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