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Top 5 supply teaching skills that mean you’re made for the job


Any disruption to the continuity of learning can have long-term effects on a child’s education. During the peak of coronavirus, 1.7 billion school children experienced an interruption to their learning and this is where supply teachers can play a pivotal role. Supply teachers perform the pastoral and general duties of the teacher that they’re standing in for, meaning that these educational staff are just as vital to the education system as any other member of staff. Supply teaching is therefore an extremely rewarding job, but have you got what it takes to do it well? Here are five supply teaching skills that mean you’re made for the job.

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Whether you’re interested in becoming a primary or secondary supply teacher, patience is a very important skill, particularly when helping students with learning loss. Showing a genuine display of wanting to understand pupils and trying to relate to them will help you build better relationships. With a good dose of patience, all that’s left to do is define your behaviour management strategies and you’ll command the classroom’s attention. 


On average, teachers will impact the lives of 3,000 pupils and as many as 54% of these students reveal that a teacher has guided them through a challenging period. There are few jobs more rewarding than teaching but the challenging nature of the job makes it suited to people who have a high level of resilience. As a supply teacher, you’ll be working with children with learning and attention difficulties, trying to engage disaffected students and helping pupils through the stress of examinations. Your resilience will give you the strength to mentally and emotionally handle these difficult situations but it’s also important to manage your wellbeing as a supply teacher.


Most supply teachers agree that flexibility is what drew them to the job, so understandably, it takes a flexible person to thrive in this role. One job could find you following a strict school plan and for others you’ll be using your own planning materials. Your working pattern will be varied too and if you’re open to last-minute jobs you can ensure that you’re working more days in the year. Plus, there’s a good chance that by saying yes to these jobs you’ll find yourself at a school that you love, and it could turn into a long-term placement if that’s something you’re interested in. What’s more, cognitive flexibility is in the top 10 soft skills you need in the new decade – so it’s a great skill to hone.


If you like to be in control of when and where you work then a supply teaching job is perfect for you, but you will need a get-up-and-go attitude. The length of each job can vary from a single day to several months, so it’s up to you to decide how often you want to work, and when you’re nearing the end of a contract you’ll need to seek out a new job or get in touch with your agency. A big bonus of this working style is that you can determine your work-life balance, especially if you choose the right supply teaching agency. A good agency will be one you feel comfortable working with and trust to find the right jobs for you.


With the autonomy of the job comes a need for strong organisation skills. Though working with a supply teaching agency will take a lot of the admin off your hands you’ll still need to stay on top of your work commitments. Having your supply teacher bag packed with a diary, snacks, portable charger and lesson plans will mean you’re ready to set off straight away when you get those last-minute calls. Being organised will also give you the confidence to walk into a new school and know that you can deliver an engaging lesson.

Take on a supply teaching job with Teaching Personnel

If you can tick off these skills then you’re made for a supply teaching job - and we want to help you find the right one. We place NQTs, fully qualified teachers and learning support staff in temporary jobs at thousands of schools every year, taking the time to understand what each person is looking for in their next job. Browse our supply teaching jobs or find out what to expect for supply teaching in September.

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