Teaching out of subject specialism


You might be asked by your school to teach outside your subject specialism for a temporary period of time. This might be because of staff shortages or restructuring taking place within your school or Trust. 

For instance, your degree subject was in Geography but you are requested to take a Year 7 History class once a week for a term. Or you might specialise in teaching Spanish but are asked to take a Year 8 French class because a member of staff has left the school unexpectedly.

Survey data from Teacher Tapp has found that one in seven teachers currently has a timetable where more than 80% of their lessons are in in subjects not studied during their degree or A-levels (or other post-16 education)

In this article, we look at if you can be requested to teach outside your subject specialism and how to express concerns to your line manager if you do not feel confident to teach outside your specialism.

Can I be asked to teach outside my subject specialism?

The School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) (pages 44 and 45) explains that a teacher may be required to:

  • Plan and teach lesson to the classes they are assigned to teach within the context of the school’s plans, curriculum and schemes of work
  • Supervise and so far as practicable teach any pupils where the person timetabled to take the class is not available to do so

So in theory, your headteacher can deploy you to teach lessons outside your subject specialism. If this was for a significant period of time and you didn’t feel confident enough with teaching outside your specialism we would recommend having an informal conversation with your line manager or headteacher.

You should also be able to request any training or CPD to support you in developing your subject knowledge on the topic.

We have written another article which looks at how you can raise issues with your line manager effectively.

In addition we have also published the following article on what you can do if you have a concern with your teaching timetable.

If you are unhappy about being asked to teach outside your specialism and after raising concerns you have not received a satisfactory outcome you can contact us for further advice and support.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
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