The New Graduate’s Guide to Casual Relief Teaching

So, you’ve put in the work and have finally graduated (or will soon graduate) with your degree in teaching—congrats!

As a new graduate, there are a tonne of options available to you when it comes to finding your first teaching role. Rather than immediately seeking out a full-time position, many educators decide to first explore the world of casual relief teaching. Whether it’s the flexibility, variety of work or potential for experience, there’s loads of reasons that teachers new to the industry are drawn to relief teaching.

That being said, for both recent graduates and experienced teachers that are new to relief teaching, there are a few things to keep in mind before you start work to ensure you are properly prepared.

Here’s what you need to know.

Be where the schools are

One thing that you will quickly realise once you start working as a relief teacher is that every school has a different system for booking their casual teachers. In the past, relief teachers had to pound the pavement visiting schools in person or spend hours on the phone introducing themselves.

These days, ClassCover is used by thousands of schools across Australia and New Zealand to simplify the booking process. For relief teachers, ClassCover allows you to set up a free profile and start being booked by schools immediately. You can claim your profile here.

When you are first getting started, many teachers find that a combination of using the ClassCover platform and reaching out to schools directly yields the best results. So, what does that look like? Once you have found a school you are interested in working at on ClassCover and requested to join their list, consider giving them a call or dropping by to introduce yourself in person. This will help the school put a face to your name and increase your chances of getting booked.

Organisation is everything

While being organised is important for all educators, for casual relief teachers, having your ducks in a row can mean the difference between getting booked for a job or spending the day twiddling your thumbs. So, what sort of organisation is important for relief teachers?  

For starters, do your research and explore the schools in your area. If you are already set up with a teacher profile on ClassCover, you can do this easily using the Find New Schools feature. From here, you can select the distance you are willing to travel and search for all the schools within that radius, or search for schools by name or post code. If you want to narrow your search even further, you can add filters to search by school type (public, independent, or private) and school level. If you don’t have a profile on ClassCover, Google Maps can be a great resource to find schools in your area to contact directly.

But the need for organisation doesn’t stop there. On a day-to-day basis, it’s important to keep your availability and profile up to date on ClassCover. This will show schools that you are active and increase your chances of being booked for work.

In volatile times like these, it’s also a good idea to make sure that you are always packed and ready to go. More on that below.

Be ready with your ‘bag of tricks’

One of the most exciting—or daunting, depending on how you look at it—parts of life as a relief teacher is that you never know what each day will bring. One day you may be taking a group of year nines through algebra and helping year sevens master basketball the next. Because of this, it’s a good idea to always be ready with your teacher bag of tricks to make sure you are prepared for whatever the day throws at you.

In the beginning, it’s smart to be flexible about the class levels you accept to teach; although you should not accept work you are not qualified to do, such as high school teaching if you are trained only for lower primary. Also, you should never assume the regular teacher will leave work for the kids to go on with.

As you gain more experience, you will develop lesson plans and resources that are suitable for the different year levels and subjects you teach that will boost your preparedness overtime. For now, while you’re just getting started, check out our PD course on creating a highly effective relief teacher bag of tricks.

Volunteer in schools

Even before you graduate with your teaching degree, it’s a good idea to take steps to get on the radar of schools you are interested in working with. One of the best ways to do this is by applying to work or volunteer for non-teaching positions.

We have added new job roles in ClassCover like SLSO, Teacher Aide, and University Student to make it easier to find work before you graduate.

There are lots of ways to do this, from helping out in the classroom on a volunteer or paid basis, to assisting with specific events, like sports carnivals or school fetes. As well as giving you valuable experience, volunteering will give you the opportunity to build relationships with leadership, admin staff and other teachers. And when the time comes for you to apply for relief teaching work, you will likely be at the top of the school’s list.

Job search as an undergraduate

As an undergraduate, commencing your search for teaching jobs during the last semester of your course may give you the edge over other candidates for the following year.  In fact, students in their last semester of university can get interim approval to teach before graduation. Many schools know how many temporary teaching positions they will require the following year by October, so getting in early is recommended.

Once you have set up your ClassCover profile, start by regularly browsing the ClassCover Jobs portal to stay up to date with new opportunities.


As in every industry, networking is an effective tool to help you secure casual relief teaching work. If you are yet to graduate and have final placements to complete, now is the time to focus on building relationships with fellow teachers, leadership, and the wider team at the school. Getting your face out there will go a long way to influence their decision to engage you as a relief teacher in the future.

If you have already graduated, make a list of everyone you know that works in or is connected to a school—teachers, other graduates, non-teaching staff, P and C members and even friends who have children attending schools. In most cases if there are teaching jobs available or casuals are needed, these networks will know about it.

Sell yourself

Most schools have a list of “preferred” casual relief teachers that, when possible, they will book over other candidates. If your goal is to get ongoing work with a particular school, you should make it your mission to get on this list. So how should you go about doing that?

Ensure your passion and commitment to teaching shines through. With some accumulated work experience, you may be offered a longer-term placement. It also doesn’t hurt to be assertive when you turn up for casual relief teaching, otherwise you may be overlooked by both students and teachers.

Expert tip: Use Teacher Portfolios on ClassCover to easily share your work experience and background with schools.  

Don’t limit yourself

As a graduate you may have an idea of what type of teaching job you are aiming for, which is great. While it’s true that the current teacher shortage may allow you to be pickier than you could otherwise, as a general rule of thumb, if you are new to the industry, opening yourself up to more opportunities will help you book more work. Let’s say you’ve decided you are only comfortable teaching K-2 but you get offered a week on a year 5 class. Take the week, you may just find that your previous experiences teaching year 5 were nothing like this. You may enjoy the more grown-up conversations and deeper levels of thinking. You never really know until you give it a go.

Check out some of our free courses available to Student Teachers

Intro to Relief Teaching for New Graduates

Intro to Relief Teaching for Graduates

In this course Mel Lichnovsky-Klock dicusses how to increase your chances of getting relief teaching work and how to best prepare yourself for your first days in the classroom.

More Information

Preparing for Your Prac Placement

Join Josh Cauchi in this short course packed full of useful information to support university students on how to prepare for, and succeed in their practical placements in any school.

More Information


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