A Cover Managers Guide: 5 Common Misconceptions about Supply Teachers

Cover Manager Resources

SupplyWell have been thinking about the myths associated with supply teachers, and we think it’s time to bust them! Here is a cover managers guide to 5 common misconceptions about supply teachers.

1. A lifestyle choice

Teaching is not a one size fits all profession. Teachers are individuals and value different things, some might put gravity on flexibility, or stability, autonomy, variety, or consistency. There are pros and cons to different teaching pathways whether that is supply teaching or permanent teaching roles in schools. A common misconception is that supply teachers struggle to find work in permanent teaching roles so move to supply teaching through having limited options. This is untrue! There is an array of reasons as to why teachers choose to do supply, whether that be long term or short term cover. Supply teaching suits different lifestyles such as NQTs, retired teachers, teachers who want variety or even simply prefer covering.  Supply teaching often appeals to people returning from maternity/paternity leave, people coming from overseas and those experiencing a career change.  

2. Supply teachers are inexperienced 

There is a misconception that cover teachers lack experience and may have difficulty managing behaviour or building a rapport with classes. This is not true. Supply teachers have experience working in different schools and have collected substantial knowledge  from the different classrooms of their past. As a result they have developed skills that make them pros at quickly building relationships with students and establishing control. Although you should take into account whether they are a one day temporary cover or if they are covering for a lengthier period of time. However remembering that each supply teacher has developed their own tactics in making sure they are teaching successfully. Often supply teachers are people who have retired from the profession and miss the classroom. Such teachers are veterans in managing behaviour and teaching to a high standard.  

3. Supply teachers are non-impactful 

The belief that supply teachers are non impactful on school life is not true. Supply teachers bring new perspectives to schools, complete with an array of experiences varying from person to person. Supply teachers make a real impact on students, they have the benefit of surprise, they are memorable and behaviour management is less problematic when supply teachers pique the students interest. Ultimately cover teachers make a big difference through maintaining a standard of learning that is to the benefit of the pupils.   

4. Supply teachers are disinterested in schools life

The idea that supply teachers do not want to be involved in the wider school life is false. Everyone enjoys staff room chat and feeling welcomed into new schools, especially supply teachers who are on extended cover. Supply teachers also love engaging in CPD and are often happy to stay after school to join in, depending on the nature of the cover. Part-time supply teachers have flexibility and more time to engage in CPD, depending on their lifestyle.


5. Inferior to permanent teachers 

There is a misconception that supply teachers are inferior to permanent teachers. Some assume that the quality of teaching is not as good. FALSE. Supply teachers have so much to offer classrooms! They have the benefit of bringing fresh, new and surprising lessons for students. Supply teachers are adaptable and flexible. They are being able to deliver a lesson using pre-supplied teaching materials and plans, to delivering their own lessons and delivery style. Supply teachers are self-motivated and autonomous, SupplyWell teachers choose to work in particular schools and do so in enthusiasm.  

We hope that our myth busting will help cover managers make informed decisions when arranging supply in schools. SupplyWell also want to help supply teachers realise the benefits of working as a cover teacher. What common myths have you encountered? What would you add to the list? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

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