As an NQT why should I consider supply?
A lot of pressure seems to be placed on NQTs to enter a permanent role asap after graduating but is this approach right for the student or the university in the long-term? Being able to demonstrate that a high percentage of graduates go onto permanent roles certainly helps universities attract new students but the rate at which NQTs are leaving the teaching industry suggests more could be done to better prepare and support new teachers for the realities of the profession.
Too many times I’ve been contacted by an NQT who has rushed into a placement only to find out that the school or role does not meet their expectations. This is not to say that the schools are responsible for making the NQT year so tough; there are a range of factors, stresses and pressures which can cause disillusioned NQTs to quit teaching.
For many years I have helped rebuild the confidence of NQTs who have been in a position that wasn’t suited to them and as a last effort they consider supply work. But instead of being a “last resort”, what if the supply route was embraced as a starting point for NQTs? After all, what better way is there for newly-qualified teachers to experience first-hand how a variety of schools work; the different behaviour policies and techniques used; how staff interact with the children; how planning responsibilities are shared; and how the school treats its employees? Supply work is and always will be the best form of interviewing a school before deciding if it is right for you.
I once engaged with an NQT who had accepted a placement without even seeing their class or meeting the other staff. They were so worried about not having a placement that they took on a role that offered little-to-no support in a challenging class within a known tough behavioural school. As a consequence, they lasted less than one term and were advised to leave before being failed. This may sound like an extreme example but sadly, it happens more often than people think.
Now, I understand that you want to start climbing the ladder towards middle or senior management and that this is difficult to achieve via the supply route but embracing the opportunities offered by short-term contract work for up to a year (and I wouldn’t recommend doing more than that) can furnish you with knowledge and experience that will enhance your training and development before you go on to commit to a school in a permanent role and complete your NQT year.
During your NQT year you need to learn so much that it can overtake the need to build your teaching style. This can’t be taught; it needs to be found. If you are focussed on reports, planning journals, professional development, strategy meetings etc it inevitably leaves you with less time to find and develop your own teaching style. Taking on short-term supply work can help you develop your teaching voice within the classroom which is often a part of the role that so many struggle with.
There still seems to be a stigma attached to supply but as I’ve outlined, it offers a unique opportunity to NQTs in particular; the chance to build confidence, gain varied experience and avoid some of the pitfalls which have caused so many of their peers to head for the exit door within their first few months of graduating.
If you are a newly qualified teacher and would like a discussion on how working with Teachers Together can aid you with your development and career goals, please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you!