Supply Teacher Wages in the UK

Supply Teacher Wages in the UK

What do supply teachers earn in the UK?

There could be a number of reasons why you’re asking this question. Maybe you’re an overseas-trained teacher, looking to fund a visit by working as a supply teacher, or you could be retired and hoping to supplement your pension with a few days of supply. Maybe you’re an NQT looking for experience while you search for your first permanent post. Whatever your reasons for asking, the most accurate answer is also the most frustrating one; “it depends”.

Because it’s based on demand, supply teacher pay varies by school, local authority, subject, whether you’re doing short or long-term cover, and sometimes even by the time of year.

The good news is that average pay for supply teachers is rising. Recruiters, Total Jobs and Reed both show the average salary for supply teacher jobs rose by around 4% in December 2017.

For a realistic estimate of your potential earnings, we’d advise you to contact some supply agencies in the area you’ll be working in.

Why do I need a supply agency?

This is another common question. There are a number of reasons why working through an agency means you’re more likely to make a success of your supply teaching career.

Supply agencies provide a vital service for schools, sourcing and vetting teachers, and schools are often unable or unwilling to undertake this work themselves. In an area where schools are used to outsourcing recruitment to agencies, opportunities to engage directly may be few and far between.

Supply agencies also provide an invaluable service to teachers, and they’re able to draw on vast experience to guide and support you. They’ll use their local knowledge and their expertise in recruitment to find assignments that match your experience and strengths, making your working life easier and more successful.

How will I be paid for supply work?

Supply teachers working through agencies in the UK are likely to be paid in one of two ways, and whatever wild and wonderful tales your Google search may have told you, it’s extremely inadvisable to get involved with any other model.

Agency PAYE: This is where you are engaged by the agency, who charge the school a fee for your work. The agency cover the costs of employing you and make their profit margin from this fee. They then pay the rest to you via PAYE. You will be engaged by the agency for each individual assignment, which will usually mean you’ll have several short periods of employment, and that you’ll only be “employed” when you have an active assignment.

Umbrella employment: With umbrella employment, you are employed by an umbrella company, who supply your time to the agency. The agency charge the school in the same way as with agency PAYE and they then pay a contract rate to the umbrella company, who again will pay you through PAYE. The contract rate should be uplifted to include the umbrella company’s costs, so your pay rate should be roughly the same whichever model you use.

Umbrella employment has the advantage of giving you one continuous period of employment, which gives you additional rights, protections and benefits that are not available through agency PAYE. It also means you’re still employed (and entitled to employee rights and benefits) when you’re between assignments. This includes periods when there’s no work available, like school holidays.

If you have questions about becoming a supply teacher or if Orange Genie can help in any way, please call us on 01296 468483 or email


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