The Classroom Hopper by Claire Riley

I was offered some work for while I was on holiday.  Initial reaction?  That’ll do nicely!  What better than a little light summer reading allowing me the pleasure of delving into the comical side of a supply teacher’s life?

The Classroom Hopper - by Claire Riley

With a name as devilishly tempting as some of her students’, Carly Harley (Mrs) isn't the kind of person I warm to immediately.  A little sarcastic, a little blunt, a little critical of the students and not ‘all heart’.  From her tone, I immediately believe she’s been in secondary before digging into primary.  Why don’t I warm to her?  She could be me – with the paint stripped off.  Let’s face it, great teachers are great actors: to succeed on some short term supply placements, you need to leave your home-life worries and cares at the door and put on a happy face.  With Carly, you don’t get the act.  She tells it like it is.  Many times she says to the children what I wish I could sometimes say to the children!  She does tell about some heart-warming stories, but let’s face it, it’s reflecting on the misadventures that keeps us smiling on supply.

Sat in the tent on a particularly blustery day (thanks to Bertha), I giggled with recognition at the antics of Carly and her temporary wards.   Remembering the boys whose names begin with B, the plethora of teaching assistants each with their own quirks and their own ‘way of doing things round here’, and the multitude of behaviour policies we’d never get to see before it was too late allowed me a few hours of camaraderie.  Dinner ladies who appear to disappear on wet break days when they spot you in the classroom, being asked ‘How’s the job hunting going?’, and the eternal struggles with passwords and security doors you will realise are par for the course.  Carly walked me through the days I’ve seen, would like to see again, and would have preferred not to have had to live through!  

The Classroom Hopper is available to buy on Amazon.  An interview with Claire will be published mid-October.

What children think?

On my twitter feed I have a search for 'supply teacher' and this image is tweeted almost hourly, if not more during school hours, by secondary students when they find out they have a supply teacher...


Supply teacher - you have no power here!


Will a change of name to 'visiting teacher' or the like change this attitude?
Is this really how supply teachers are perceived by the children?  Or is there a lot of bravado here?
From whom do they learn this attitude, and at what age?
What can be done about it?!

Financial Planning for Supply Teachers

Featured article submitted by Teachers Assurance for our Financial Planning series


What benefits do I get as a supply teacher, and how should I be planning my finances for the future?

With financial education part of the National Curriculum from 2014, it’s more important than ever that teachers equip themselves with a sound financial knowledge. For supply teachers, it can often be difficult to understand what benefits you will receive, and how you can be planning today for the future you’d like later in life.

Teachers Assurance - Financial Information for Supply Teachers

The following Q&A tackles a few questions that we at Teachers Assurance hear a lot from supply teachers thinking about their future finances.

Can I join the Teachers’ Pension Scheme?

As a supply teacher paid by a Local Education Authority, you will be able to contribute towards the Teachers’ Pension Scheme. If you are paid through a supply agency, you will have your own payroll systems which may offer a stakeholder pension, but will not be part of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

What benefits will I get from joining the Teachers’ Pension Scheme?

Joining the Teachers’ Pension Scheme will allow you to contribute in return for a pension at retirement, which is based on your salary and length of service. In addition to your contribution, your employer will also make a substantial contribution towards the cost of your benefits, and the Scheme will provide you with a guaranteed, regular income for the rest of your life. This income is also index-linked which will protect its value against the effects of inflation.

I’m confused about the benefits I get as a supply teacher, how can I find out?

We often find that supply teachers are commonly confused about whether their benefits and options are the same as teachers on regular contracts.

Our unique Financial Education Programme was created specifically for all teachers, including those in supply, who don’t have the time or the knowledge to get to grips with their finances. The Programme includes school talks and financial planning seminars, which can be tailored to meet the needs of supply teachers at all life stages, be that NQT, mid-career or approaching retirement.

I find it hard to balance the books each month, what can I do to relieve this pressure?

Financial pressure is a burden for many teachers, and as a supply teacher it can be even more difficult if you’re not guaranteed a regular income. Preparing for the possible gaps in your income will help you to live comfortably throughout these periods, and cutting back even when you’re feeling flush can help. Think to yourself - do you really need that shop bought lunch every day, or would the £500 you’d save by the end of the year be more beneficial?

How can I make sure that I will live the life I want in the future?

It’s important to remember that throughout the periods you are not employed by a school or Local Education Authority, you won’t be contributing to your pension, and neither will your employer. To help you ensure that you can live the life you desire in the future, consider long term savings and investments as a way of building a nest egg for yourself. These could involve saving small monthly sums over a long period of time, so that you can guarantee a pot of money to live from when you retire or give up work.


Teachers Assurance - Financial Advice for Supply Teachers




Featured article submitted by Teachers Assurance for our Financial Planning series

DBS for Supply Teachers - A Guide

Featured article submitted by Due Diligence Checking Ltd for our The Legal Lowdown series


What is the DBS Update Service? 

The Disclosure and Barring Service launched their 'Update Service' on the 17th June 2013 with the aim of making it easier for individuals to take their Disclosure Certificate(s) with them between jobs. This service costs £13 per year for a paid role, or is free for a role which meets the DBS's definition of a volunteer.  For Supply Teachers moving between schools regularly this could prove to be very beneficial as you may not need to complete a new DBS check for each school. An employer that accepts a Certificate on the Update Service can undertake a process to verify if anything has been added to a Certificate since it was issued. If anything has been added you will need to apply for a new Certificate.

Those schools using the Update Service will most likely follow best practice by ensuring: 

1.       The Certificate belongs to you -  you may be asked to present ID documents confirming that the Certificate belongs to you, such as Passport Driving Licence and recent Utility Bill.

2.       The Certificate is genuine - you should keep your original Certificate safe so it can be presented when needed.

3.       You have given consent for an Update Service Check - you may be asked to complete a form to confirm this.

4.       Your Certificate matches what the school would normally apply for - to enable the re-use of a Certificate it must match the workforce details, Vetting and Barring Lists and the volunteer status. 

There is no guarantee that the new school will accept a Certificate on the Update Service so it is well worth enquiring with the Local Authority where you work, before signing up. 

When should I apply for the Update Service? 

You can join the Update Service when you next apply for a Disclosure. There are some time limitations as you need to join within 14 days of the issue date of your Certificate, using the Certificate Number as a reference. Alternatively you can join 28 days before the DBS Form is submitted using the Form Reference Number (F number) found in the top right hand side of your application form (it is worth recording this when filling out the form). For any teacher completing an online application the eForm Reference Number (E number) is not provided until the DBS confirm receipt of the form electronically. In this instance the Registered Body that submitted the application can provide these details to you, or you can contact the DBS directly. 

How do I join the Update Service? 

To apply to join the Update Service you will need visit the DBS website and enter some details to include:

·         Your surname

·         Your Gender

·         Your Date of Birth

·         Email address

·         Your Form Reference number or Certificate number

·         Payment carddetails to cover the £13 per year fee

Once you have joined the Update Service you can log-in to:

·         Add/Remove DBS Certificates

·         View the organisations who have run and Update Service Check

·         Amend your contact and payment card details

For the teaching industry this does seem like a simple solution to portability and hopefully a majority of organisations in the education sector will accept Disclosures that are registered on the Update Service.

For more information about criminal record checks in general please visit




DBS - A guide for supply teachers by Due Diligence Checking Ltd

Is anybody out there?

Supply Teacher Talkby Sharon Wood

I work from home. It's a great life, but it can be a lonely life. Like supply teaching.

I get to speak to people online.  I don't like the phone, so rarely will I make / take a phone call, but it's there for me if I need it. Like my dog.

I do feel like a voice in the wilderness sometimes.  I tweet, I post on Facebook, I email, etc., and it is sometimes hours before I get a response. Like talking to some children.

Lack of adult conversation is a problem I still have in common with some supply teachers. It struck me most the other day while on the phone to a recruitment consultant. The call was just a few minutes long, but inspired and able to bounce ideas around, I came up with 3 new (and fairly obvious to be fair) ideas for The Supply Teacher e-zine. If I'd not had that conversation, it would have taken me another year I'm sure, to come up with those!

I need to communicate with people. I'm a bit of a recluse, but still a social animal. I get my best ideas, and am happiest, when I'm with other people, talking. 

Supply teachers need to communicate with other people too. To grow, to befriend, to engage, to learn, to teach, to focus, to enjoy, to inspire, to be inspired. 

Supply teachers: be brave! Walk that long walk into the staffroom and engage in a conversation!
Consultants: phone your supply teachers! Ask how their day was. You might be the only person to have asked!

And all of you: get in touch with me. I need to grow, to befriend, to engage, to learn, to teach, to focus, to enjoy, to inspire and to be inspired!

CPD for supply teachers

Free! The Five Ds

The Five Ds - Five little words supply teachers need!

Supply for Lunch

#SupplyChat Tuesdays 8.30-9pm

Supply Teacher Top Tip of the Week

Home of #NSTW

Supporting and Celebrating Supply Teachers

Supply Teacher Room 101

Have Bag, Will Travel

Have Bag, Will Travel: The trials and tribulations of a career supply teacher


Free! Otis Stickers

Free stickers for supply teachers

King / Twin En-Suite in family home, Penny Bridge

Cumbria, United Kingdom
We have a lovely guest room with en-suite bathroom. The room can be made as a double (extra king size) or as a twin (full size single beds). The bathroom has separate bath and shower. We are in So...

Takeover Thursday - Supply Teacher Network