Graduate looking for experience

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Name: Stuart Johnson, from Warrington

Age: 22

Specialism: Graduated from the University of Chester in 2013 with an Early Years PGCE.

PK education office: North West

How long have you worked with PK education?
I started working with PK soon after I qualified as a teacher in July 2013. PK education was initially recommended to me by a friend, but I also loved that they had a lot of local schools on their books. So I signed up with PK education in October 2013 and, to my delight, I started receiving assignments the following week.

After a number of short-term assignments, I secured a long-term maternity cover at Hallwood Park School and Nursery in Runcorn in February 2014.

Why did you decide to become a supply teacher?
Like many other NQTs I found it difficult to get a permanent position, so I looked into working as a supply teacher. I thought supply teaching would give me good experience in a range of schools across a range of years.

Did you have any preconceptions about supply teaching?
I was initially unsure about supply teaching. I hadn’t really thought of it as an option until I was having difficulty finding a permanent position. But, the fact you gain you such a lot of experience in a very short space of time was a real incentive to do supply work at the beginning of my teaching career.

One thing that makes PK education different is the fact that you are told where you’re going the night before rather than on the morning of the assignment. I also really appreciated that I was sent to schools and positions that were tailored to my strengths. I specialised in Early Years Education so I was sent to a lot of Reception assignments which meant I could do the job to the best of my ability as well as build on my skills.

I felt well supported within the profession which prevented any potential feelings of isolation that many supply teachers can experience and also meant I was happy working at every one of the schools I was sent to.

What kind of assignments have you had?
Between October and December 2013 I was sent to a variety of day-to-day assignments across primary year groups in different schools. Getting that good assortment of classes really broadened my experience as a teacher. I also gained a long-term sickness cover position after Christmas in a Reception class which I really enjoyed as it was my specialist area.

How has supply teaching helped your career?
I feel that the experience I got as a supply teacher has helped me to gain the maternity cover contract I am working on now. Given my experience with supply teaching, I would have no hesitation in doing it again in the future. It has opened real doors for me in my career and given me a level of classroom experience similar to that of more senior colleagues.

Advice to new supply teachers?
I would advise any new supply teachers to enjoy the experience and make the most of each day. Supply teaching can be daunting at first but it’s a great way of getting your face known in lots of different schools and broadening your teaching experience.

The fact that people recognise me and know who I am after only a couple of days working on an assignment is always a highlight for me.

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