It’s no secret that supply teachers are flexible educators, able to jump into someone else’s classroom at short notice and hit the ground running. Teachers come to us from all sorts of backgrounds and for all sorts of reasons – from NQTs through to experienced senior leaders. To celebrate World Teachers’ Day, we took some time out to chat with Rob Onions, a primary teacher who has been working with our Teesside team since 2019, to discuss how they got into teaching, what made them choose supply and how the current climate has impacted them.
What is your current role?
My current role is primary supply teaching, working in a range of medium and short-term assignments across Key Stages 1 and 2.
What made you want to work in education?
It was the diversity of the job that drew me to education, along with the enjoyment of working with children.
How did you get into teaching?
My first degree was in Engineering at the University of Leeds. After a year out travelling, I converted my first degree into a teaching qualification by completing a PGCE.
What do you enjoy about working as a teacher?
Working as a teacher has brought me the experiences that I went into teaching for in the first place. Working in a wide variety of roles gives such variety to your day. Working with children is great fun and is incredibly rewarding.
What made you want to work on supply?
After teaching for 17 years and working in one school for the last 12 of those, I felt I wanted to do the job that I love in a different way.
What do you like best about working on supply and what are the main benefits of working on supply instead of a permanent position in one school?
Supply teaching has enabled me to experience a wide variety of schools and I’ve taught children from varying demographics, which is interesting.
In my role as a supply teacher, I feel I can concentrate on the part of the job that I enjoy the most - teaching. After being a permanent teacher for 17 years, I felt I was spending a disproportionate amount of time on tasks, that in my opinion, did not benefit the children directly. In other words, I felt I was doing a lot of jumping through hoops. This became very frustrating for me and now, I feel every minute I spend working has an impact on the children in my care.
What made you choose Vision for Education?
Vision for Education were recommended to me by an acquaintance.
What’s the best thing about working for Vision for Education?
Vision for Education has provided me with a good steady supply of teaching roles and the staff are friendly and helpful.
What is the most challenging thing about your role?
One of the most challenging aspects of my role is adjusting to the individual routines of a class or a school when they can be so varied. Getting used to the geography of a school can be challenging, as can finding resources when time is limited.
What have you found most challenging about working in schools during the pandemic?
Working in schools during the pandemic hasn’t been hugely different. Washing hands more regularly and not mixing year groups at playtimes has been different, but not particularly challenging.
What are your top tips for making working on supply a success?
My top tip would be to be go into the classroom with confidence. Be prepared to fulfil the expectations of the class teacher and be prepared to do your own thing. Have a variety of tasks up your sleeve that you can call upon.
Imagine that the one day that you are with those children might be the only day that they ever have you as their teacher. Spend that day making every effort that you can to give them the very best experience that you can.