Why Does Supply Teacher Employment Increase in the Spring Term?

As we reach the halfway stage in the academic year we are likely to see a major influx of supply teachers in both primary and secondary schools across the country. There are a number of reasons for this particular annual trend, with head teachers making the security of students’ educational standards a priority during a period where schedules, exams and illness are reaching peak levels for the academic year.

It is vital that the standard of teaching does not slip, which is why schools will create opportunities for supply teachers in preparation for the spring term. The spring term in particular witnesses nearly a 40% increase in supply teacher employment.

With secondary schools now focusing on rigorous exam schedules instead of the previous course work approach, schools have to maintain a consistent level of teaching ability in order to withstand the expectations of the new curriculum. When the exam period kicks in and preparations reach fever pitch, supply teachers are required to come in and compensate for teachers who are sick or who becoming increasingly occupied.

With further examination techniques comes the likelihood for further mock procedures, resulting in heavy study schedules that require a consistent teaching strategy. In addition, illness becomes most prevalent in members of staff during the weeks leading up to key examination periods.

Back in 2012, the Norovirus resulted in a 35% increase in supply teacher employment. It is extremely important that student education does not suffer as a result of illness, making the availability of supply teachers all the more vital to the academic outcome.

So how can schools prepare for the increasing absentee list and demanding schedule that we are likely to see with the new exam-orientated curriculum now in place? Firstly, it can be extremely beneficial to share a positive relationship with a supply teacher provider as this covers any emergency absences in the long term and provides the opportunity for consistency in the classroom.

Whilst attempting to see out such an intense stage in the academic year without any changes might seem plausible, it is important to remember that many staff members will struggle with fatigue, stress and a general build-up of work during crucial parts of the year.

It’s also important to realise that supply teachers have never been as vital to educational success as they are now, so you can certainly rely on their abilities to cover for experienced, qualified teachers on both a long and short-term basis.  

Claire Crowley is involved in the education sector and regularly blogs about her experiences in an incredibly demanding and ever changing environment. She has contributed this post on behalf of Red Box Teachers, London's premier teacher recruitment agency

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