Interview with... Mr M N Cliff, supply teacher

Mr M N Cliff, supply teacher with School House Recruitment in the north east of England, talks to us about his work.

Why did you start supply teaching?

It was an ideal way to develop my teaching skills across all year groups and subjects. 

How did you get into supply teaching?

I'd spoken to several experienced supply teachers about the opportunities and challenges presented by supply teaching.  School House Recruitment came highly recommended. 

What do you take with you on a supply teaching assignment?

I take a variety of textbooks and worksheets covering all age groups.  A tin of soup.  An A to Z (I haven't got a Sat Nav).  Several children's novels.  Excitement, (mild) anxiety and a sense of adventure! 

How do you ensure you'll be called back to work at that lovely school / by your recruitment consultant?

I concentrate on the lesson and doing the best for my pupils.  If you can earn the respect of the children and staff members, one or both groups will ask the headteacher for your return.  This will happen before you finish your placement. 

Do you have any advice for those wishing to be a supply teacher?

Developing a good relationship with your agency is crucial.  Make sure that your feedback is balanced: tell them what you have enjoyed and what you have found challenging. 

What have you learned from being a supply teacher?

My experience as a supply teacher has been invaluable; I now feel confident teaching every year group. 

How could the lives of supply teachers be improved?

For all supply teachers and permanent teaching staff's mugs, to come together in the same cupboard.  Let's see beverage holders unite, because at the end of the day - they all do the same job. 

What is your favourite supply teacher resource?

George's Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl.


I once turned up to a school that had recently been demolished.  I could see the new building, but for the life of me, I couldn't reach it by car. I hopped over a fence, marched through a field, taught my lessons and returned to my car later that day with mud up to my ankles! 

And finally, who would be the ultimate supply teacher and why?

Dr Who.  If the lesson is going badly, he can always regenerate into a more effective incarnation. 

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