Can I work as a Cover Supervisor or Supply Teacher during the COVID-19 pandemic?

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For those within the educational sector that prefer to keep their schedule more flexible and enjoy working with new people in a variety of settings, Cover Supervisor and Supply Teacher roles have provided the perfect fit. But how does this short term, temporary style work with the new, COVID-19 restricted teaching world?

We caught up with one of our Supply Teachers from North Essex, John H, to hear about his experiences this year:

“I have dipped in and out of supply teaching over a 24-year career. I think it is a good way to check out schools in an area before making a career commitment and I also think there are times when the work/life balance thing needs a bit of a nudge. One does not have to spend the Christmas holiday marking or ignoring one’s own children in the summer because that update to the medium-term maths plan just isn’t going to write itself.

I took early retirement last year and a few days of supply work each week gives me a chance to still do the job I love, but duck out of the majority of the bits that eat the rest of your life!

The benefits of supply are the flexibilities of time and circumstance, working on one’s own terms. I also think it is a good way to get a LOT of experience fast, across age groups and different ‘styles’ of learning.

There is no typical day. I have almost always found planning to be in place and support staff to be actually supportive. The only part that really intimidates me is a primary school lunch register… you have just met the students, you don’t know names and each school has different system of codes, symbols and/or colours. Terrifying.

The post lockdown period was extremely sparse. I think schools viewed supply teachers as a potential vector of infection and just tried to cope without using us. Things have picked up since Half Term and schools seem to be quite sensible about protocols. If you have your own mask and hand gel, you’re halfway there… all the stuff about bubbles and boxes varies, but the schools explain it well.

The schools I have been in have felt safe. There is visible cleaning and sanitisation going on throughout the day, plenty of reminders of good practice and, to be fair, everyone seems to be doing their part, including the children.”

Am I qualified to be a Cover Supervisor or Supply Teacher?

Cover Supervisors and Supply Teachers are temporary school staff who enter a school on a short-term basis to supervise pupils when their permanent teaching staff member is on a short-term leave of absence.

To work as a Supply Teacher, you need a teaching qualification. If you have not yet completed your induction, then you will be able to work as an NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher). If you have completed your induction and successfully achieved qualified teacher status, then you can work as an FQT (Fully Qualified Teacher).

A Cover Supervisor is similar to a Supply Teacher, however Cover Supervisors do not hold a teaching qualification. As such, Cover Supervisors can cover a classroom on behalf of someone else, but not run their own.

The cover supervisor's main job is to manage a classroom, ensuring that students remain on task with the work they have been set. Simply Education’s stance on employing Cover Supervisors is that they preferably hold a degree and have some previous classroom experience. Non-Degree holders with satisfactory experience within the classroom could be accepted, as well as candidates who can show transferable skills from previous roles and who have a genuine desire to get in to teaching.

What training is available?

Simply Education regularly provides a host of CPD training opportunities to our teachers and teaching support staff, this support continued during our lockdown scenarios and into our new school year. A full catalogue of our training opportunities can be viewed on our CPD Training page.

We offer our Cover Supervisors a free, day-long course to support them in their role. The course includes guidance on safe working practice, an outline of the role, expectations of schools and pupils, helping pupils overcome their barriers to learning and positive behaviour management.

The virtual course is just one of our 8 free virtual trainings and 12 online webinars that are available for our supply staff to access. In addition, all our supply staff can request articles from a list of over 200 Teaching Skills Resources, covering everything from assessment and behaviour, to effective learning, praise and questioning techniques. Our two Education Development Managers (former Assistant Principals) are on hand to support individuals, on request.

By attending our Cover Supervisor course, we aim to instil a greater confidence in you and share essential ideas and good practice. Your investment in your skillset will be seen favourably by potential hiring schools and you will also be up-to-date with latest practices.

Simply Education CPD Cover Supervisor Course feedback:

“This is a quick email to tell you thank you for your outstanding courses. I really learnt a lot from them and please keep the good work. I felt really prepared for cover job opportunities that came afterwards. I had an interview which went well and I have now secured a teaching position until Christmas. Thank you very much! Catherine”

“Can I just say how much I have enjoyed your webinars, they’ve been great. Thanks again. Caroline”

“I have to mention again about the web seminar this week. It was absolutely fantastic! A clever way to motivate us all and to also save our skin from troubles at work. A massive thanks to both of you... your comments and your experiences has made a huge contribution to me personally! Ana”

If you would like to discuss your teaching career with one of our dedicated consultants or hear about the latest opportunities in your area, please get in touch with your local branch today.

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