Many supply teachers in England have found themselves in the unenviable position of being unable to work or be furloughed this lockdown. It appears that a substantial number of agencies simply cannot afford to take the financial hit of furlough this time around, due to less cash being available from the government. If you are in this position, there is some help available. I’ve collated some potential sources of help and ideas below…
Sources of help
Your union. It can be daunting to seek help from the union, but it is what you pay your dues for! Help and advice do not automatically lead to the union making contact with an employer (you have to give your permission for that) and they have the information at their fingertips. They all have hardship funds which you may be able to access. It may also be possible to pause your subscriptions temporarily.
Teaching Staff Trust This charity supports those who have worked in the education sector for at least 5 years with grants. Teaching Staff Trust
Benefits. You may qualify for Universal Credit or Jobseekers Allowance – check here
Tax allowances. Now is the time to make the most of those allowances!
- If you are married or civil partnered, and you will earn less than your tax allowance this tax year, (and your partner will earn more than theirs), you can transfer £1250 of your allowance to them, saving around £250 a year in tax. Apply online.
- Claim for your union subscription payments and any specialist clothing you need. DO NOT use a company, it is REALLY easy to do yourself. This blog from Pran Patel explains how and the HMRC pages you need are here.
- If you have been asked to work from home at any point this year, you can claim this allowance too.
Citizens Advice This useful page explains how furlough is worked out, and how to challenge a decision not to pay it.
Test and Trace Support Payment If you told to self-isolate by Track and Trace, it is possible (there are QUITE A LOT of criteria!) that you might be eligible for this payment of £500.
What to do?
So, what can you do while waiting for schools to fully reopen?
Try tutoring. Online education is a bit of a boomtown just at the moment, but there are genuine opportunities for tutoring, either independently or with a company. Look into companies employing tutors under the National Tutoring Programme. It seems that you do need to be careful here as not all of them are playing a rate comparable to supply teaching, and I have heard that some have a slow and burdensome application and verification system, but there is definitely scope for picking up work here. Or, if you prefer to captain your own ship, try a platform like Outschool, or set up a presence on social media and gain students that way.
Explore your options Check out specialist agency DidTeach for opportunities with companies specifically looking for teachers. Visit the Teacher Empowerment Project for ideas and inspiration, both in and out of education. The Census is upcoming and temporary work is available.
Get some CPD. One consequence of the pandemic is an absolute boom in online CPD, with lots available for free. I recently completed (and recommend) the free Place2be Mental Health training which is open to supply teachers. Future Learn has a plethora of courses that you can join for free (although there is often a charge for accreditation). Apple, Microsoft and Google all offer training for teachers (in their respective products, of course) and there is plenty of free CPD from trainers like Jo Payne, who has posted reading videos here or The Learning Scientists, whose podcast can be found here (or wherever you get your podcasts).
If you want to learn something not directly teaching-related, the government Skills Toolkit has lots of options.