Stop gap teaching

Diary of a supply teacher in the UK.

About me

My name is Aodonis and one year ago I became a supply teacher for an education company in London England.

I have decided to write a log of my day-to-day activities and experiences to help others decide if this career is for them.

I won’t name the company I work for to be as honest as possible.

I will try to write only facts and give out only important information.

I plan to write a monthly blog taking in all the things that happened over the period.

Suggestions and questions are very welcome.

Where I am now

 So currently I’m working in West London covering the area from Uxbridge to Finchley. It’s a large space but it benefits from good transport links and the sheer amount of schools keeping me busy. You can find supply work all over the UK but London seems to be a place with more opportunities and honestly, I wanted to try living in the capital and learn more about teaching, to see if it is a long-term trade that I want to commit myself to.

London is interesting and contains many different types of schools from religious to private institutions. I work in Primary education as I love to work with young children. I mostly teach Reception to Year 2 but I can end up working in any year up to Year 6.

Teaching in the primary you teach every subject but you can use your experience to promote yourself as a specialist such as a music teacher or IT lead. London is a multicultural city so this will be reflected in the students you will teach which I love as I’m exposed to different religions and languages. Some will speak English only as a second language so patience is needed.

My journey thus far

I became a teacher by accident, during my university course I became enamoured by the draw of living in different countries. My degree meant I would be forced onto a linear path working in local government which would be great but quite monotonous. 

I did a Teaching English as Foreign Language (TEFL) course through the TEFL Academy which was 20 hours in class and 100 hours online. I found it very thorough and gave me the confidence to go into teaching. I will admit that it isn’t that difficult to attain if you just use common sense. 

Learning something and then applying it are two different things. My first position post qualification was a village in Spain where I loved during my Erasmus year lasted three months and led to me failing as I realised that I was coming at it from a purely academic base and thought that was the main goal and not understanding that kids need to have fun also. I needed to engage the students in a friendly way and manage discipline better and my manager in giving feedback highlighted these for me. Loving the job made me want to stay even after what I considered personal failure. 

The more experience you have the more money you can get per job and per day. Specialists like IT or languages also give you more cash and better options. My salary is roughly £650 a week before tax but remember I live in London so my rent is a massive draw from my salary, add taxes and pension contributions, I’m about £500 a month in profit, very low your thinking but I live in a studio. If I rented a room my rent would be half but im in my thirties and don’t want to take the risk and live in a pigsty anymore with the one person who never cleans. My pay comes with a payslip that describes my deductions and I receive a tax statement every year at the end of April. 

I have a contract that guarantees me pay for 4 days every week even if the company only secures three days work, giving me the piece of mind that I can survive in London. This contract is known as a SGP contract. We are currently going through a cost of living crisis so basic food prices are going up and won’t necessarily reflect your costs. I do online shopping with Tesco to save money. I pay on average £3-4 a day on transport using trains or buses as London is divided into zones. Zones 1-2 being the most expensive gives you enough info to suggest that the suburbs are best.


Image by José Miguel from Pixabay

Open question

How in this day and age and with the country having the seventh largest economy still have class sizes at 30 and above when other major nations have targets set at 20 per class? All research that I have read points to improved outcomes if students spend less time in the classroom and with less students giving the teacher more time to help students individually.