Relief Teaching Jobs – Tips on Getting a Job

relief teaching jobs

Finding Relief Teaching Jobs can be very frustrating. I received this email and thought I would share my thoughts about these key relief teaching employment issues. I understand getting a foot in the relief teaching door can sometimes be difficult, but it is never impossible.

Last year I returned to teaching after a 26 year gap. I did a teacher refresher course and 18 hours of PD. I then approached two schools (one being my old school where I taught for 8 years before my first child) with my c.v.

I didn't gain any relief employment from the old school but had 5 days only (4 as the music teacher) and 1 day in grade 1.

I have a music degree and Dip.T.Primary.

Is it best to approach schools personally with your c.v. or to email it or should I join an agency?

Which approach is best and should I re-approach my old school? I did write a personal letter with my c.v. to the Principal after having given one to the secretary.

Please could you give me some suggestions on how to gain some more employment?



Relief teaching jobs - my thoughts.

Thanks for sharing your dilemma D. (Name withheld for privacy reasons)

I would like to deal with this issue which I am sure is key for a number of teachers seeking relief teaching work.

The best approach to take is the way businesses have been operating for years.

You want relief teaching jobs? 

 ... then Market Yourself.

A CV or an email can very easily be discarded.

As principal of a large school, I received several emails and CVs each week from teachers seeking employment as relief teachers and most, I am afraid to say, were given a cursory glance and given to someone to file. Seldom were they referred to again.

Much communication was earmarked for several schools which made the email or the CV generic in nature.

Unless we had a specific need at a specific time, these CV and emails were seldom referred to again.

However, relief teachers who made a personal appointment to visit the principal armed with CV and (in many cases) exemplars of previous employment received a more favourable mention.

My suggestion D, is to make a personal approach. That may mean making an appointment to see the principal.

It is my experience, that regardless of who makes the phone calls, most principals have the executive input into who teaches in his/her school.

So while you can leave the contact details with the secretary, when it comes to filling relief teaching vacancies, the principal usually has the executive voice. Even if the job is assigned to a deputy.

In practice, one of my deputy principals always did the appointment, but he/she always discussed the matter with me (as principal). If I was impressed with your visit, your name would have been mentioned as a possibility. It is my experience, much the same as the department works: if the boss mentions a name - that person is the front-runner.

Be an impressive relief teaching applicant.


I don't know any principal who doesn't want the best relief teacher in front of the students. Honestly, the best teacher will reduce the admin workload.

I regret to inform you that you are one of hundreds seeking a job. So when you approach a school, you need to stand out and show why you are the best person for any (or every) relief teaching vacancy.

Tips for Relief Teaching Employment.

  • Know about the school. You don't need the know the intricacies of how it is run. Every school has a website where they show the elements of which they are most proud. Perhaps it is their band, the gymnastic team, their extended learning program, their learning support structure. Find which element you can value-add to and market yourself to that.
  • CVs should be geared towards the specific school only. I know this is burdensome and requires a lot of commitment. But that is exactly what you are displaying - Your commitment to the school. You are showing that you are just the person needed on staff. If you know some, mention names of people on staff. Call people by their name. Mention the name of some of the kids you may know and how impressed you were with their projects, their reading, their manners.
  • Build on some initiative as quickly as possible. If the school promotes chess establish a lunch time chess comp - even if it is in your own classroom. If the school has a choir, get a couple of kids together for a parade item. If the school has a football team, organise a lunch time match. I know many who are relief teaching and arrive at 9 - leave at 3 and spend their whole break in the lunch room with a newspaper. Have you ever seen a permanent class teacher do that? They are always far too busy. Show the boss that you are in THEIR league.
  • Establish a presence while in the school - even if is only a brief relief teaching stint. Meet and greet as many staff members as you can. Establish a presence in your room. I was particularly impressed with one teacher who sent good work to the office for praise and had a personalised sticker made for the kids books. Much like the stickers Leonie has in stock at Signature Stickers. This certainly impressed me for a couple of reasons. Here was a relief teacher who corrects work and shows pride in the results she achieved. Invite the boss to come into your room so the kids can show off something. Even if it the first stanza of Geebung Polo Club.
  • Let the principal know that if the school wishes it so, you can be relied on to fill any and all relief teaching vacancies by refusing offers from other schools.
  • List your name with Classcover. Classcover is not an agency as such but it opportunity to put your relief teaching presence out to schools. More and more schools are using Classcover to find relief teachers with skills to meet vacancies. If you haven't listed their yet, do it now. It takes only a few minutes. Agencies can be a little impersonal. I do know a lot of schools use them. Really they benefit the school not the relief teacher looking for full time work. Working at 2 schools for 10 days is much better than working at 10 schools for 2 days. If you make yourself available exclusively for a few schools, I am sure you will get more offers. My protocol as a principal was to phone our regular relief teachers FIRST then go to our local agency. I am happy to say, most schools in this area do just that.
  • Show off your relief teaching resources. Come armed with unit plans so that the principal can see that you can take any class at a moments notice. I really do not need the teacher to leave work. In fact I would prefer they don't unless absolutely necessary.

Good luck D. Many thanks for raising this important issue. Relief Teaching can be a rewarding career option and well worth the wait. Now get out there and find your relief teaching jobs.


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