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How can supply teachers secure work and stay safe during the pandemic?


Supply teachers are vital to the education sector and this opinion was echoed by a Department for Education spokesperson who highlighted that there were "a number of options if schools are facing a shortage of teachers", including hiring short-term staff. Many schools are in fact facing a staff shortage because of the pandemic and there are many supply teachers poised and ready to fill these roles, so what is the missing link?

More teaching staff are turning to supply teaching agencies to connect them with vacancies that they’d otherwise find hard to locate. Once you’ve found your placement the next thing that comes to mind is how you can look after your health. Before taking a supply teaching job, run through NASUWT’s Covid-19 safety checklist for supply teachers.

Read on for more advice on securing supply teaching work and staying safe during the pandemic.

Enlist the help of a supply teaching agency

It was clear even from the early days of the pandemic that most sectors would be impacted by the virus. The education sector was no different and what ensued was an extended period of uncertainty for supply teachers and support staff. To stay informed on the latest regulation changes and how they’ll affect you, reach out to a teaching recruitment agency which specialises in supply cover.

Due to their established relationships with schools, supply teaching agencies have access to a larger volume of jobs than teachers would find independently. But it’s important to do your research and find an agency that suits you. Expertise and a high level of support are among the top things to look for in a supply teaching agency .

Be flexible

With supply teaching roles, some are on an emergency-cover basis and will be short-term, while others can span several months. The most important thing you can do to ensure you receive as much work as you need is be available. This means waking up early and being ready by the phone. Being flexible and saying yes to last-minute calls can mean that more jobs come your way in the future. Equally, stating that you’re flexible to teach all age ranges and travel further will help you secure work, give you a broader experience and therefore develop your supply teaching skills .

Be proactive between placements

Know who is responsible for your health and safety as a supply teacher

Though you might not be directly employed by the placement school, they still have a responsibility to ensure your safety. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states that every employer must identify and assess health and safety risks, both for employees and non-employees that are present in the workplace. This legislation applies to Covid-19 just as it would any other hazard. Whether you’re employed by an agency or an umbrella, whoever is considered your employer has joint responsibility with the school to ensure your safety at work.

Protect your health

Governments are working alongside scientists to ensure that they’re regularly revising the list of symptoms. Stay up to date with the latest symptoms and access the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s symptom checker . If you are presenting the symptoms but are unable to get a test through the NHS site, your employer can refer you for testing as an essential worker. All they need to do is register your details through the secure employer referral portal and you’ll receive a unique code which will allow you to book a test.

The pandemic brought many challenges, one of the more obvious being protecting your wellbeing. Around one in two people reported feeling anxious or worried as a result of Covid-19 so it’s vital to remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Establishing a routine or engaging with a teaching community are two ways to manage your wellbeing as a supply teacher .

Find your next supply teaching job with Teaching Personnel

Supply teaching is a great career choice for anyone seeking flexibility in their job. It also offers a chance to gain teaching experience in a range of educational environments and develop a broad range of skills. If you’re a qualified supply teacher and are searching for your next role view our supply teaching jobs . Our specialist education consultants will take the time and care to find out what you’re looking for in your next role. Find out more about why teachers work with Teaching Personnel and hear how we’ll support you.

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