Annoying career choices

Supply Teaching

I do not understand how the Department of Education works here. I really don’t. Supply teachers are paid all sorts of different amounts, then when they offer you a job for the day, they offer it to you for less than agreed in the contract (and half of what you’ve been paid in the past for the same job, at the same school, through a different agency.) You get called at 8:15 to ask you to be somewhere at 8:30. You get asked to drive 45 minutes to a school for potential less money. You get asked to work in special schools when you have no training in SEN whatsoever. You get asked to work as a P.E. teacher when you’re an English teacher with Qualified Teacher Status, only to be knocked into by a crowd of feral Year 10 girls.

When I researched how much supply teachers are paid, apparently not in London, you can expect to start off at £105 as a Newly Qualified Teacher, then get an increase in pay. I’ve never been given more than £100. In Scotland, the normal pay is £145, from what I read too. There are also all these different terms for supply teaching – cover support, English specialist, teaching support. Each one gets paid different, so even if you’re an English teacher with QTS, you can be sent into a school who only needs “cover support” and half of what an “English specialist” supply teacher would for the day.

Is the job different? Not that I can see. Supply/Substitute teaching means going into a classroom, fighting kids to be quiet and get on with it when they know they’ll never see you again, and given no work to do with them because no one has left lesson plans. (Not that the kids care anyway.) Whether you teach a history, English, or maths class, it’s always the same.

In Florida they just gave substitute teachers with a Bachelor’s degree $70 a day, and with a Master’s degree $75. You had an online timesheet you could look up jobs with and list when you wanted to work. Here there are twenty local teaching agencies that handle supply teachers. The teaching agencies are doing their job, but anyone can start up one, and decide whether to call you or not.

Teaching English as a Second Language

I’ve been told by people on Twitter, and in writing workshops or teaching gigs, that I should go get my certificate to teach English as a Foreign Language. So, since this supply teaching thing isn’t helping me any, I started looking into it.

First of all, the UK has either the CELTA or the Trinity certification program. This is the good, accredited program, apparently, and the shorter courses, although they are supposed to be accredited, aren’t worth anything. Now, the problem is that the USA and Canada, from what I’m told, don’t recognize anything that’s not a TEFL certification specifically. These UK CELTA certs are supposed to be internationally recognized, but apparently that’s not really true.

Also, one college who use to offer the Trinity program told me that teachers with experience can train and work at the same time in some colleges to get their certificate. Another college who offers the CELTA said that the British Council won’t let you teach ESOL without the CELTA, regardless of teaching experience. (Even though the CELTA says it’s for those who have never taught, but whatever.)

I wrote to the British Council to see if they could give me an answer to this. I’ve tried to ask Twitter if anyone in the UK has gone through ESOL training but, surprise surprise, I’ve had no response to that or my questions about supply teacher pay rates.

Also, in order to get into a CELTA program, you have to do an interview with a thirty minute language tasks (little mini-test) and an interview about your test, just to prove you should be in the course. And here I thought getting into grad school was tough. I’m telling you, no one in the UK cares if you speak English, have taught English, and were born and raised in an English speaking country for more than thirty years of your life.

And again I wonder, is it even going to be worth it? The program is apparently really tough, but if the UK will give me a steady job, I’m absolutely fine with going through the process. However, this test asks you to indicate is verbs are in “present continuous” tense and what the proper syllable markings are in different words. I’m not sure I could even pass the interview if that’s what they’re looking for.


Library jobs are posted. All kinds. Full time, part time, senior librarian, research librarian, library assistant, and so on. I apply. I get a rejection letter. I can’t get shortlisted for an interview for anything. Pointless, useless degree and a bunch of financial aid I’ll never pay off. What happened to this, “You can get $36k a year being a librarian!” theory they told us about four or five years ago?


I’ve never been happier than I have been, sitting here at home, working on my book. It’s a very anti-social way of conducting life but, hey, it works for me.


About Suzanne Schultz Pick

Married to Steve. Mother of Jack. Librarian IT Assistant. Writer, teacher, blogger, podcaster, technological princess.
This entry was posted in All About Me, Employment, Library, School, Teaching, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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