Substitute Teacher Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Substitute Teacher, also known as a Supply Teacher or a Relief Teacher, is a person who takes over the duties and responsibilities of a full-time Teacher in the event of their absence. Their duties include continuing with lessons plans, assigning and marking homework, maintaining order and ensuring that students experience as little disruption as possible in their school day.


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Substitute Teacher duties and responsibilities

The primary duty of a Substitute Teacher is to ensure that classroom education continues following the lesson plans. In the absence of lesson plans, they need to create lesson plans that are in line with the full-time Teacher’s guidelines and the school curriculum. Substitute Teachers main tasks include:

  • Providing extra class activities in the event that a lesson plan is too short
  • Ensuring an ordered and disciplined learning environment
  • Giving students the necessary support and encouragement 
  • Leaving a tidy and clean classroom behind
  • Grading all homework and assignments and recording the marks
  • Providing full-time Teachers with a comprehensive report so that they are up to date
  • Taking attendance and adhering to school procedures in general
  • Supervising students outside of class such as in the hallway and cafeteria 
  • Being familiar with a school’s emergency protocols, such as fire drills


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What does a Substitute Teacher do?

A Substitute Teacher seamlessly continues with the daily routine of students by following existing lesson plans and schedules. It’s important that they provide students with a safe and ordered classroom environment where learning can continue despite the absence of the full-time Teacher. A Substitute Teacher may also need to help out with extra duties, such as bus, lunch or detention duty.


Substitute Teacher skills and qualifications

To ensure that students have a positive and meaningful learning experience, Substitute Teachers must have effective teaching practices. These include the ability to strike a balance between providing a fun learning experience and maintaining the necessary authority to ensure that learning can actually take place. A successful Substitute Teacher candidate will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications, these can include:

  • Flexibility, as the job necessitates different environments and challenges
  • Excellent interpersonal skills to effectively work with new team members, parents and students on a constant basis
  • Excellent listening skills to gauge the needs and requirements of colleagues coworkers and students
  • Great verbal communication skills in order to effectively teach and guide students
  • Basic IT skills in order to work with the necessary software, be it spreadsheets or word processing applications
  • Strong emotional intelligence to cope with students and ever-changing work environments


Substitute Teacher experience requirements

Generally, Substitute Teachers need previous teaching experience within the last three to five years. Candidates may need to show a strong understanding of the U.K. curriculum and proven ability to teach, plan and prepare lessons in line with the standards of the Office for Standards, Children’s Services and Skills in Education (Ofsted). Those who are applying for posts at the primary school level may need experience working within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework.


Substitute Teacher educations and training requirements

Substitute Teachers in the U.K. typically need to have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), especially if they want to teach in state schools. Although there’s no legal requirement for Substitute Teachers who work at private schools to have QTS, they normally have this qualification as well. Candidates can either obtain QTS by completing a degree in education or through a School Direct program, where they’ll receive training while working as an unsalaried or salaried unqualified teacher, depending on previous experience and level of training. Some Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) qualifications also provide QTS.


Substitute Teacher salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary of a Substitute Teacher is £127 per day. Salaries will differ, depending on variables like the location and position.


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Substitute Teacher job description FAQs


What's the difference between a Teacher Assistant and a Substitute Teacher?

These two occupations have very different roles. A Teacher Assistant provides support in an educational environment by handling tasks like one-on-one tutoring, organising lesson materials and assisting students in labs or libraries. They tend to work throughout the school year. Substitute Teachers, however are qualified Teachers who teach in the place of absent full-time Teachers.


How long does a Substitute Teacher position typically last for?

A school can call in a Substitute Teacher for a day, a week or even a year. In general, though, the tenure of a Substitute Teacher won’t exceed a year.


What makes a good Substitute Teacher?

Apart from needing effective teaching methods and experience in teaching, Substitute Teachers have to organise their lives in such a way that they are available to work when schools request their services. As the job involves a flexible schedule and an ever-changing work environment, Substitute Teachers need to be able to cope with change and uncertainty.

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