Interview with... an Assistant Head

Assistant Head on Supply Teachers
Mrs V D'Silva, Assistant Head at Keresforth Primary School talks to us about their expectations of supply teachers.
 
Does your school use supply teachers known to them (retired staff for instance), supply teachers from a pool, or from an agency?

Agency and also staff known to the school for many years who are now semi-retired.

Does your school have a policy regarding what should be left for a visiting teacher? Or a pack?

Yes, we give each supply teacher a pack of information regarding the school day, expectations regarding marking etc.

How do you welcome supply teachers into your school?

Visitors to the school are always welcomed by the Head and taken to the relevant room.

What are your expectations of a supply teacher in terms of providing work, marking work, playground duties and use of the staffroom etc.?

As far as is possible the work will be planned by school to ensure minimum change for the children. However, there may be occasions where this is not possible and the supply teacher, in this instance, will be expected to have suitable resources to hand. We expect them to mark all work that has been completed. We welcome supply staff into the staff room as we do any visitor. We do not usually expect them to do playground duties if on short term supply.

What does your school look for in a good supply teacher?

Flexibility, reliability and a sense of humour!


What does Connor's school look for in a supply teacher?

Interview with... Connor, Cover Manager

Connor Acton, Cover Manager at Beaumont Leys School, Leicester, talks to us about the use of supply staff in his secondary school.

Interview with a Cover ManagerHow often does your school use supply teachers?

It can vary, like all schools we have periods where the amount of supply staff we have in is ridiculous and then have absolutely none at all the next week.

Does your school use supply teachers known to them, supply teachers from a pool, or from an agency?

All of the supply teachers we use are from agencies.

Does your school have a policy regarding what should be left for a visiting teacher?

We try to provide as much as is humanly possible, that includes a cover slip, registers and photo registers and all of the information visiting staff need in a key information booklet. Our teachers are generally very good at setting appropriate and detailed cover work.

How do you welcome supply teachers into your school?

It's usually time dependant, those supply teachers who haven't been to us before and arrive early tend to get the works (a tour, introductions etc.). The ones who arrive later get shown to their lessons and the chance to ask any questions on the way.

What does your school look for in a good supply teacher?

Enthusiasm and the ability to relate to students are key and obviously effective behaviour management (including knowing when to ask for help). Good timekeeping is another major thing we look out for, especially in the mornings.

What are your expectations of a supply teacher in terms of providing work, marking work, playground duties and use of the staffroom etc.?

Being a secondary school we only require teachers on long term placements to provide and mark work. As for the use of the staffroom, every facility in the school is available for use by supply staff and we hope they feel comfortable doing so.

Story time! Good or bad…

As a student I do remember having a particularly depressed English supply teacher who climbed onto a window ledge and told us he would jump out if we didn't be quiet!

And finally! Who would be the ultimate supply teacher?

Steve Jobs, a man who lost everything and then clawed his way back to the top (plus I think free iPhones would make any class take notice).

 

Janet talks to us about how supply teachers work in her school for children with PMLD.

Thoughts on Supply Teachers - by PP

Thoughts on supply teachersHaving access to an effective supply teacher is something to be treasured.

To achieve this, it is vital that the school and supply teacher maintain good dialogue. What has proved to be most effective, in my experience, is to use local teachers – retired, or otherwise known to the school – and nurture them. The benefits are huge – through regular contact they understand the ethos of the school, discipline procedures, marking expectations, many of the children and the strengths (and foibles) of the staff.

There are so many demands on schools nowadays that necessitate regular supply cover e.g. PPA sessions, time to meet with Senior Managers to discuss Target Setting, Professional Development meetings etc.

Good practice would ensure the Supply Teacher has as much information as possible to the greater benefit of the school. Ideally, each school should provide a “Welcome Pack” full of need-to-know information. Basics should be included, such as session times, the routine before the first bell, playground duty rotas and the expectations when children are outside, how the children are to travel to and from classroom, how and when the register it taken and the procedures for absenteeism. Sitting alongside this information, perhaps not written down, but discretely communicated: which staff member prefers no-one else to use their coffee mug and not to fall into the Sheldon Cooper trap (Big Bang Theory) of “You’re in my spot.” In addition, to avoid unnecessary confusion/sabotage, it would be helpful for Head or another teacher to nominate 1 or 2 reliable children to advise on usual practice to counteract the cries of: “Ms W always lets us do that.” 

A vital element of good supply teacher/ school liaison is a sharing of the marking policy to ensure consistency. I think it is perfectly reasonable to expect the supply teacher to mark work undertaken under their care. But, class teachers should also “play fair” and not leave work that involves hours of marking.  A marking sheet for Maths would also be most welcome.

To ensure a calm and fruitful time in school, any supply teacher should also be made aware of children who have particular needs, and be aware of any support assistant, their timetable and their usual role within the classroom.

It goes without saying, that the supply teacher should be au fait with current practice appropriate to different year groups. Quantum physics doesn't go down well in Year 4!

In case of a last minute call the best supply teacher will have their own bank of tried and tested ideas that will excite and stimulate. Good practice for schools would be having weekly/daily timetables available with resources at the ready.

Though retired now, I have done supply work in the dim and distant past before becoming a full-time classroom teacher and senior manager. One lasting memory is of being telephoned at 8.45 by a school 8 miles away. I explained that as I don’t drive and no-one was available to bring me it would be nearly lunchtime by the time I arrived by 2 bus journeys and a short walk. Such was their desperation to obtain a supply teacher (I got the feeling “any supply teacher”) that the secretary came to fetch me!

In conclusion, when the school / supply teacher partnership is working well, the confusion and anxiety that might otherwise affect children and their learning is taken away.

You never know, you might even see the supply teacher attending professional development meetings, helping at the Christmas Fair or the school concert.

PP

 

Allison let's us into the secret of successful supply teaching in her school.

Interview with... Janet, teacher at a special needs school

Janet works with the primary age range of a special needs school for children with PMLD (Profound Multiple Learning Difficulties) that uses supply teachers on a weekly basis. She talks to us about what special needs schools need from supply teachers.

 

Interview with Janet, teacher at a special needs schoolDoes your school use supply teachers known to them (retired staff for instance), supply teachers from a pool, or from an agency?

We use a supply teacher that's known to us, she previously worked in the school. She knows the children, and equally as importantly, the children know her.

Does your school have a policy regarding what should be left for a visiting teacher?

Yes, we all leave full health and safety information regarding the children and setting. We also make sure all planning is available.

How do you welcome supply teachers into your school?

Supply teachers new to our school are given a tour of the school and its facilities before being taken into class and introduced to the staff and pupils in their care for the day.

What does your school look for in a good supply teacher?

We need people with special needs training. This must include moving, handling and feeding training. Supply teachers visiting our school must be able to use different methods of communication, Makaton and communication aids for instance.

What are your expectations of a supply teacher in terms of providing work, marking work, playground duties and use of the staffroom etc.?

The primary part of our school plan as a whole so planning is always provided. We expect this planning to be followed; all teachers playground duty daily, and a good supply teacher will always, and is always welcomed, into our staffroom.

Story Time!

One supply teacher many years ago took the children to the park. One boy could stand and throw bread to ducks, but he didn't let go. He didn't understand that he had to let go of the bread when throwing it... and fell in the lake! I really felt for the teacher in charge that day!

And finally! Who would be the ultimate supply teacher?

Mr Tumble! What a magnificent asset to any school.

 

PP gives us her thoughts on supply teaching and supply teachers.

Interview with... Karen

Interview with... Karen, supply co-ordinatorKaren McVea-Roberts, Year 3 teacher at Barrow Island Community Primary School tells us about her school's expectations of a supply teacher.
 
Have you ever worked as a supply teacher?

Yes, when I first started teaching in 1995 alongside a part-time teaching post. Again four years later after resigning from the wrong job, preferring supply.

How often does your school use supply teachers?

Rarely due to funding. Only if necessary due to staff illness and lack of cover within school.

Does your school use supply teachers known to them, supply teachers from a pool, or from an agency?

Usually known to us.

Does your school have a policy regarding what should be left for a visiting teacher? Or a pack?

No but there is a clear expectation.

How do you welcome supply teachers into your school?

With an introduction and tour if time allows. Regular check-ins throughout the day.

What does your school look for in a good supply teacher?

Flexibility, good behaviour management, high expectations, sense of humour and they have to fit in (and want to come in) the staff room.

What are your expectations of a supply teacher in terms of providing work, marking work, playground duties and use of the staffroom etc.?

Depends on the circumstances. If a teacher is off unexpectedly a supply would be expected to provide work. If it is a planned absence, there should be a conversation between teacher and supply teacher. If a regular session is to be covered there may well be a planning expectation. Supply teachers are expected to mark work unless otherwise instructed, will cover duties as the timetable of the absent teacher and are welcome and encouraged to go to the staff room. We have a lively but light-hearted staff quiz on a Friday lunchtime and supply teachers are encouraged to participate if they want to.

Story time!

At a previous school we had a supply teacher who hadn't been in the classroom for several years since qualifying but thought she'd give it a go when she got the emergency agency call! The children ran rings round her and she wasn't invited back. Word of mouth is always best in a small town like ours!

And finally! Who would be the ultimate supply teacher?

For people of a certain age...   Johnny Ball. Alternatively, Stephen Fry or Dave Grohl. Now that would be an entertaining day at school!

 

Read about what another school expects from their supply teachers here.

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