What Are The Requirements in Becoming a Supply Teacher?

According to the Supply Teachers Annual Survey 2019 England (NASUWT), the use of agencies by supply teachers has risen by a quarter since 2014 (63%).

With plenty of exciting opportunities in respectable, diverse schools across the country, supply teaching can be one of the most rewarding roles, giving you the freedom to balance time spent in the classroom with your own extra-curricular activities. Whether you are a student fresh out of sixth-form and looking ahead to university years, or a vastly experienced teacher hoping to broaden your skills in different settings, there are some important aspects worth considering before deciding to become a supply teacher.


If you’re a teacher it’s highly likely you will already have the necessary qualifications, however, for those who are not currently working as teachers, you must have a degree and Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) — which is achieved by following a programme of Initial Teacher Training (ITT). That’s not to say you can’t gain any kind of teaching experience without QTS. If you have started your degree and you show a commitment to becoming a teacher, you may be able to begin working in secondary schools as a cover supervisor.

Choose the right agency

If you know one or a few ‘subs’ it may be best to ask them about their experiences with teaching agencies. This will at least give you a good overview of the agencies operating in your area. We also recommend you book meeting with teaching agencies to get a feel for them, their team and whether they are going to be suitable for your needs. It’s important to choose an agency that’s going to be there to support you, and will not see you as another name on the database. Once you’ve found an agency you’re happy with, be sure to register with them so they can keep their eyes peeled for new opportunities.

Deciding between employment and self-employment

If you’re going to be seeking employment through an agency, they have a legal duty to deduct tax and national insurance through PAYE. Teaching agencies, therefore, remove much of the stress of finding your own income opportunities as they handle HMRC tax payments and deductions on your behalf. If you prefer not to work with an agency and would rather work directly with schools, you will need to register as self-employed. You will then need to set up as a sole trader with HMRC, and pay your tax through Self Assessments.

Do your homework

We’ve touched on many of the key advantages of supply teaching, but before you accept a job that comes your way, it’s important to do some research on the school. You may want to check the school’s most recent Ofsted report to better understand the achievements, weaknesses and challenges. You should also browse the school’s website and read the statement from the headteacher to gain an insight into the school’s values and culture. With Teach Agency, our friendly team will run through every opportunity with you in great detail, ensuring you have the information you need to make a decision that’s right for you.

No matter where you are on your journey right now, if you’re interested in becoming a supply teacher, we’d love to hear from you. You can tell us about your experience and ambitions by sending us a message or calling 01223654299.

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