The Supply Teacher - Supply Teachers Wed, 20 Jun 2018 00:41:11 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb (The Supply Teacher ) Interview with.. Christian Thompson Interview with M2 Education supply teacher ChristianChristian Thompson, supply teaching through M2 Education based in Preston, talks to us about following his dreams!

You work through M2 Education. How did you go about finding and choosing your agency?

The choice was an easy one. I had been a full-time primary teacher for five years before I decided to move into supply teaching. All the supply teachers who covered my own classes were from M2 and had nothing but praise for M2. They all seemed to be very happy and told me that they had been offered lots of work. M2 have provided an incredible number of supply days for me, so the other supply teachers have been proved right and, as you can imagine, I'm very happy!

Why and how did you get into supply teaching?

After being a full-time primary teacher for five enjoyable years, I wanted to try something new. I had been a amateur writer and photographer for some time and I decided that, at thirty-three, it was time for me to follow the dream of becoming a photographer and journalist. In order to do this, I would need an increased level of flexibility in my working life and I imagined that supply would provide that for me. Although M2 have kept me extremely busy - I could work five days every week - I was able to devote a day here-and-there to my own photography endeavours, as a result of the extra flexibility, allowing me to realise my new dream. My assumption was correct and I have been able to combine supply teaching and working for myself. Something that simply would not have been possible when I was working fifty-to-sixty hours a week as a permanent teacher.

What do you take with you on assignment?

I travel light. A memory stick with resources that I have collected over the years is rarely used as I imagine that teachers would appreciate a supply learning session to be based on core skills - especially where maths and literacy are concerned. For example, a lesson on 'drop-in', subordinate clauses or 'chunking' is never frowned upon by heads who happen to pop their head around the door. If the learning is level-appropriate, then the children, support staff and the class teacher are all happy. To be honest, the most important thing that I make sure I have every day is a bright smile on entering the building and a positive attitude.

How do you ensure you'll be called back to work at *that* lovely school by M2 Education?

I always consider what I would want as a returning teacher, after my class had been covered. Books fully and well marked with constructive feedback, a tidy room and succinct notes on the day's progress. As a permeant class teacher, I always fully appreciated it when the marking was done. I always value fully any support staff that I am lucky to work with. They know the children in a new class better than I do, so I value their opinions. Teaching Assistants talk to heads and their opinions about the supply teacher count hugely. I engage the children with fun, achievable and level-appropriate activities which makes for a happy and relaxed learning environment. I like to meet the head too. Only if it's convenient for them of course. Just to say hello and make my face known.

The day-to-day life of a supply teacher... How do you find it? Do you prefer long-term placements, morning only bookings? Pre-booked work only?

M2 have given me a variety of options and I like them all. Day-to-day supply, when you get a call first thing in the morning is great because you're embarking on a mini adventure! New faces to meet and another school to take ideas away from. There are may times too, when I know that I have days at different schools booked in advance. It's easy to plan my working life in other areas, such as my own business, in these instances. I have really benefited from the flexibility that short-term assignments provide.

Do you have any advice for those thinking of going into supply teaching?

Be positive, smile, arrive early, follow the behaviour management systems of the class, mark books well and get asked back as a result! I would recommend M2 Education. They have a great reputation in schools and are able to provide lots of work for conscientious supply teachers.

What is your favourite go-to time filler for when you have a few minutes left at the end of a lesson?

It's difficult to pick one, to be honest. It depends what I'm doing in the lesson. The art of a good plenary - reviewing learning against the success criteria and peer marking are always effective ways to spend a few minutes wisely.

Who would be the ultimate supply teacher and why?

Chris Packham of Springwatch fame. He possesses immense scientific knowledge on a subject which is not valued enough by the modern curriculum. Children need to get outside the classroom and learn about what is around them - for the good of their health and simply for them to enjoy wildlife and nature.

And finally, what is your favourite supply teacher resource?

Favourite resource: A bit boring - but it's my knowledge of level descriptors!

M2 Education - Preston and Newcastle recruitment

]]> (Sharon Wood) Supply Teachers Wed, 04 Feb 2015 10:55:26 +0000
Interview with... Hazel Mills Interview with... Hazel MillsHazel, supply teacher with Top Class Education, has already retired once, but missed the classroom... 

How did you go about finding and choosing your agency?

I didn't actually find Top Class Education, they found me. I had been considering doing some supply work for a while but had done nothing about it then one evening while I was on Facebook, up popped a message from Kate at Top Class asking if I was interested in doing a bit of supply; it was serendipity!

Why and how did you get into supply teaching?

I had taken early retirement in 2011 as I had suffered some ill health and my husband was recovering from cancer. Nearly three years on, surgery had improved my health and my husband was well enough to make me a golf widow again so I thought it would be nice to do a bit of supply as I was missing being in the classroom.

What do you take with you on assignment?

Plenty of pens! I also take my DBS, lunch, a mug and a drink as schools vary so much in what they provide. Some take cash, others need your thumb print! And I never want to go down the route of using the wrong mug!

How do you ensure you'll be called back to work at *that* lovely school by Top Class Education?

I do longer term assignments. I try very hard to make sure I fit in and become part of the school. I arrive in good time and I'm happy to stop for a chat and coffee at the end of the day if others are around. When my contract was finished at a particular school that I really enjoyed Kate from Top Class was very quick to ensure that I was called back by keeping up a dialogue with the head teacher of the school negotiating my return.

The day-to-day life of a supply teacher... How do you find it? Do you prefer long-term placements, morning only bookings? Pre-booked work only?

I prefer long-term placements as I particularly enjoy building relationships with both the students and my colleagues. I am a very loyal sort of person, working 26 happy years in the same school prior to my retirement. I like the fact that I had good relationships with more than one generation of families. Doing long term placements allows me to go some way towards building the same feeling of belonging. As someone who is semi-retired I like the flexibility I can have with supply work. I can choose the days I work. I have lots of other things I do too so supply fits in nicely. I normally only do pre-booked work as Top Class provides me with all I need with my long-term contracts. If I do extra days it is usually in the school where I am on a long-term contract.

Do you have any advice for those thinking of going into supply teaching?

Arrive in good time so that you can get organised and find out what the behaviour and reward policies of the school are and use them. This knowledge is powerful. To use names; many schools now provide photos of the children in your groups, try to use them. Be prepared with something up your sleeve if there is no work set. In an ideal world you will have a wonderful lesson plan given to you but there will be days when your won't; you need to be prepared. Leave a quick note to the teacher about how far you got with the work, they will really appreciated it. Always be friendly to the all the other staff and, I repeat, take your own mug until you know you don't need to!

What would you think if Ofsted were to suggest paying you as an undercover inspector for them, as you go about supply teaching?

I think it would be a dreadful idea. Teaching is a tough profession whether you are a permanent member of staff or a supply teacher and the relationships that develop between staff are usually one of the strengths of a school. Putting in a supply teacher who might be a spy in the ranks could only be divisive in my mind. Teachers need to be able to trust each other and I cannot see how any supply teacher would be trusted if there is the remotest possibility that he or she is an Ofsted mole!

Who would be the ultimate supply teacher and why?
Stephen Fry. He can keep unruly guests under control on QI so I'm sure behaviour would not be a problem! His sense of humour and knowledge would be invaluable and I'd really like to be in his lessons!

And finally, what is your favourite supply teacher resource? 

YouTube! If the lesson you are having to take is rather lacking, you can always find a video to liven it up! I'm not sure how I ever managed to teach before whiteboards attached to the Internet!

]]> (Sharon Wood) Supply Teachers Wed, 19 Nov 2014 12:39:13 +0000
Nikki Tester on casual teaching, her book, and pearls of wisdom! Nikki Tester on Casual TeachingI fell into casual teaching after my partner and I relocated to Coffs Harbour. Prior to the move I was working in an Independent school near Lismore, and there was no avenue for me to transfer to Coffs Harbour.  Casual teachers can work through Agencies, although I never have. I have worked basically in my local schools, where I have been booked by the person in charge of casuals (Usually one of the Assistant Principals). You then get paid by the Department of Education in NSW

To ensure that you get called back to *that* lovely school, behaviour management and having a class full of engaged students is always something that stands out to a principal and other teachers at the school. I would always volunteer to do a duty if I was in fact rostered off, and as my "lovely" school was just up the road , I would also do some volunteer work as well. It was a small school so that there was not always availability. I was lucky to have a few temporary contracts, and so I was a 'familiar face' around the place. When Smart boards were first introduced into schools, I made sure that I shared any great sites that I had found as I had more time on my hands than permanent teachers to explore the internet.

My book, A Survival Kit for the Casual Teacher, was born when we moved, and before I actually began casual teaching. I had a book with websites, and post it notes stuck all the way through it!! And as I discovered more, I realised that I had to make a better system that would work for me and one that I had at my fingertips when the phone rang early. I knew I always had an easy reference at my fingertips. I have used all of the activities on occasion, and these are the ones that I have found work well with classes.

My advice for those going into casual teaching: Be organised!! The reality of supply teaching is that you can have very little time on your hands in the morning. You may get to school and find you have a morning duty. By the time you get into your classroom, you need to see if work has been left, familiarise yourself with the class, sign into internet, read any notices which will let you know if there are any events on the day. Be familiar with behaviour policy of the school, procedure for sending kids to sick bay, procedure for collecting money , photocopying and the all important bell times (yes I have accidentally let kids out early, or had kids miss the bus, ooops!) Very important to be kind to the office ladies!!! Find the timetable for your class.

You need to be flexible and ready to adapt to any situation, if there is a time tabled release break on the class you are on, be prepared for the principal to ask you to take over another class instead. Dress code is important and first impressions count. Be very mindful of your choice of language with children especially when they push your buttons. It is a tough job at times, you can't always follow up on behaviour issues etc,. Make sure you drink lots of water.

My favourite supply teacher resource is the internet itself. I don't have a favourite site, but I just love using IWB in the classroom. They are the most amazing tool.  I love having a laugh, so I would have loved to have Robin Williams as a supply teacher.  

You can read about Nikki's gem of a find for any supply teacher, A Survival Kit for the Casual Teacher, here.

]]> (Sharon Wood) Supply Teachers Wed, 12 Nov 2014 13:20:07 +0000
Interview with... Claire Riley
Interview with... Claire RileyI was very excited to get to interview Claire Riley, owner of Classroom Secrets and author of The Classroom Hopper for this issue.  This busy lady is also a supply teacher!
Why and how did you get into supply teaching?

To cut a long story short, I never wanted to be a teacher! I only did it because I got to the end of my degree and I didn't know what to do next. I was adamant that I was not up to teaching primary and so I went into secondary, where at least I could do the subject I loved, performing arts. It turned out that I actually liked it! However, as I did the only performing arts PGCE in the country, and wanted to move home to Halifax, there were no jobs. The October after I finished my PGCE, I decided that I should do some supply (very reluctantly). As it turned out, by the time my CRB for the agency was through, I had a part time job at a very difficult school. I worked permanently two days and did supply the rest. I can honestly say, as uncomfortable as it was, it was invaluable in shaping me as a teacher and I feel it was better to do this at the beginning of my teaching life.

What do you take with you on assignment?

Travel cup (most important), bottled water, breakfast, lunch, pencil case with every colour of pen and seven rubbers (in case I want to do art with them), Maths on Target textbooks, Grammar and Punctuation Text Books, Timesheets, box of bribes, business cards, CRB and a coat with a hood (in case I’m forced to do break duty in the rain).

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

I engage in good banter with my consultant - we get on and chat about our latest garden improvements. I think the most important thing is good behaviour. I insist on that and it creates a good impression. I do get a lot of requests.

Interview with... Claire RileyYour book, The Classroom Hopper, is about the day-to-day life of a supply teacher... Is it based on you and your experiences?

Some of it is based on me and my experience, a lot is exaggerated for humour's sake. I'm not the incompetent teacher that is portrayed in the book, it's more of a play on how supply can make you look that way. I poured my love for sarcasm into the book because the kids don't get it!

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

Jump in with both feet! You can do it - believe you can. Always have something up your sleeve and 'don't take no messing'!

What did you learn from being a supply teacher?

Everything! I learned how to be a Primary Teacher on the job! The key things:

1. To stand in front of the door 10 minutes before the lesson ends in secondary.
2. If you don't understand the planning, do your own thing and tell the teacher it didn't make sense.
3. Act really shocked at low level disruption.
4. That schools have 100 different ways of doing playground duty.
5. When class teachers are shocked when you don't know the terminology they use in their school, respond with terminology that you learnt from the school down the road to prove your point.
6. To focus on the day and the marking. Do the lesson, mark the lesson - don't leave it until the end of the day.

Many supply teachers don't feel they earn enough money, and some seem to have a lot of time on their hands. What have you been doing in your spare time?

I've always been lucky enough to do supply without worrying about money. Mine is the supplement wage. I have never ever done supply and struggled for things to do on the other days, in some ways I wish I had! For the last 3 years I've been working on a website that I launched 18 months ago. I always enjoyed creating resources, in secondary and primary. I realised that nothing was ever differentiated and that it was really difficult if you had a 1a and 4b in the same class. Seeing how many other teachers delivered lessons helped me to broaden my ideas for it. So, Classroom Secrets was born.

Who would be the ultimate supply teacher and why?

Robin Williams. He would be brilliant at behaviour management just by being himself and would always have the attention of the children, which is a big thing in my book.

Target Maths
And finally, what is your favourite supply teacher resource?
The target maths books.  They are differentiated, make for a structured lesson and answer books exist! 
You can find Claire in the following places:
]]> (Sharon Wood) Supply Teachers Thu, 09 Oct 2014 20:10:05 +0000
Interview with... Gemma, supply teacher with Capita Education Resourcing Interview with supply teacher Gemma, working for CapitaMany thanks to supply teacher Gemma for sharing her story of why she chooses to do supply.

Why did you choose to go into supply teaching?

The workload of teaching was taking over my life. I was working a 10 hour day at school, then coming home in the evenings and doing at least a further 2 hours as well as working weekends. I also found head teacher expectations and targets immense, and putting myself under the pressure to achieve them was literally too much at times. The paperwork got more and more; and a lot of the time I felt that it was a pointless exercise; just to tick all the boxes! So, after 4 years I decided to leave a permanent position and take up supply teaching.

How did you start your supply teaching career?

When I first qualified as a teacher I did supply work for 1 year to get an even better feel for the Key Stage in which I would like to take a permanent position in. Then after 4 years of being in a permanent position; due to the above reasons, I went back into supply and have been doing supply now for the last 3 years.

What do you take with you on assignment?

CRB form, ID badge, stickers to praise the children with, couple of story books, sometimes a resource pack of activities just in case no work has been left for me for the day.

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

I always try to make a good impression by following closely school policies and practices. I will always give verbal feedback to the teacher or leave a handover sheet at the end of the day if they are unavailable. I also inform the office staff or management at the end of the day, just how my day has been; always leaving on a positive note.

Do you have any advice for those wishing to become a supply teacher, or be a better supply teacher?

Always go into a school with an open mind, use positive praise when it's due, show enthusiasm with teaching and listening to children's ideas, be creative and try and have fun!

What are you learning through your work as a supply teacher?

How different schools, staff and pupils perceive/act towards a supply teacher. How to manage difficult behaviour in quite a lot of schools.

How could the lives of supply teachers be improved?

For supply teachers to be shown the same respect/behaviour as their own teachers from pupils.

And finally! What is your favourite resource for supply teaching?


]]> (Sharon Wood) Supply Teachers Thu, 12 Jun 2014 19:18:17 +0000
Interview with... Gareth, secondary supply teacher and entrepreneur! Interview with... Gareth, secondary supply teacher and entrepreneur!Gareth Tanswell, creator of The Cover Teacher’s Planner, talks to us about his work as a supply teacher.

Why did you choose to go into supply teaching?

Throughout my school life I thought that I wanted to be a primary school teacher, I couldn't imagine ever teaching in a secondary school. My parents persuaded me not to go for an Education degree but to go for a degree that might give alternative options and to then follow that up with a PGCE, and so I went to University of Wales, Aberystwyth and studied Human Geography. I chose Aberystwyth because I had attended Welsh-medium schools and wanted to continue my education in that language as best I could. However whilst I was in Aberystwyth, I decided to do some voluntary work and so ended up helping out at a Youth Club once a week. I also decided to join the Special Constabulary, on what was (in all honesty) a bit of a whim. I genuinely had no desire whatsoever at that point of joining the Police. But I then caught the bug for policing and decided that I wanted to pursue a career in that route. When I finished University I got myself a job as a Learning Support Assistant at HMP & YOI Ashfield in Pucklechurch, Bristol. I just saw that as a stepping stone for getting into the Police. In fact I applied to join the Police in February 2007 whilst working at Ashfield. I didn't hear anything from the police for a while, and later in 2007 an opportunity came along for me to complete a PGCE on a part time basis, and the prison were willing to support that, so I joined the course, and that same week decided that I wanted to be a full-time student again and took the dive and switched to the full-time course. During that year the economic crisis began hitting, and the prison were unable to take me back once I had qualified, and so I found myself with a PGCE but no job. I first went into supply teaching in 2008 just as I had finished my PGCE because I wanted to get some experience of working in schools and to see whether it was for me. I was seeking full time employment but was still living at home. I worked in 2 different schools at that time, and I didn't really enjoy it, the one school was in quite an affluent town and I found the students to be quite snobbish, and then on my first lesson on the first day in the other school which was deep in the Gwent valleys, a fight erupted in my class, and the teaching assistant just looked at me to sort it out. I quickly found myself a non-teaching full time job late in 2008, but began teaching Welsh in Community Education classes as well. In 2008 I had managed to get myself extra teaching with The Open University teaching on their new L196 Croeso course (Welsh for beginners). Then in March 2009 I finally got into the Police and began the career that I am now in today. This unfortunately meant that I had to give up my teaching commitments because I was going to be living away during my initial 30-week training course, and I knew that I wouldn't be able to commit to teaching in the community whilst also working a shift pattern. But even on a police wage, being a single man with a mortgage meant that I needed something to supplement my income, and so I kept working for the OU as I could easily schedule tutorials around my shift pattern. More than the need for money, I wanted to keep teaching because I had always been passionate about facilitating learning, and wanted to keep my own professional development going. By teaching with The OU I was able to complete most of the masters for a MA in Online and Distance Education and didn't have to pay a penny for it! So it was definitely worth it, and I really enjoyed watching the course develop and mature, and working with students from across the UK who were passionate about learning Welsh. In 2012 I was made redundant from my teaching role with the OU due to cutbacks which affected the whole of the HE field, and in all honesty I missed it, and although I wasn't being paid grandly by the OU as it was only a few hours’ work every week, the extra bit of money was useful, and so in early 2013 I made contact with my old agency and signed up again.

How did you choose your agency?

When I first joined my agency I had seen them at a stand at a Careers Fair at my University where I was completing my PGCE in 2008. I signed up and got work quite quickly. But as I mentioned before, I didn't really enjoy it and so only did a few assignments and then left them. Then in 2013, I went to find them again but found that the office had been relocated to Cardiff. The staff were the same and remembered me and were happy for me to give it a go again. I dragged my feet at this stage and kept putting off my appointment to bring my documents to them and to sign up, I just wasn't sure whether I wanted to do it as I hadn't enjoyed it before, and then one day I decided to just do it! If I didn't give it another go I would never know, and I couldn't think of any other way of keeping my teaching qualification current. The staff at the agency were really warm and welcoming, and I very quickly began getting assignments. They understood my shift pattern and only called me when I was free, but I felt valued by them, I almost felt that by taking assignments that I was doing them a favour, and so I stuck to it. Now, 18 months on, I really enjoy supply teaching, and have no intentions whatsoever to stop doing it any time soon.

What do you take with you on assignment?

I make sure that I am smartly dressed, and have learned that the absolute most important thing to wear is a massive smile. It’s pointless trying to be too firm, respect is something that has to be earned, and I won't get a second chance to make a good first impression with students, and so I make sure that my first interaction with a class is friendly, happy and most importantly, funny!

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

By getting a class on side, I find that it means that I tend not to attract attention! I have had some classes which have been a nightmare, and you end up getting other teachers come and assist a lot, which is great for me, but I often wonder whether they then think that I am not doing a good job, and so I prevent it at all costs by trying to get along with the students, and finding a happy medium. I fully know that I am a 'Supply' and I see their eyes rolling in their head when I stand there and pronounce their names incorrectly, or when I expect them to do some work, but I generally find that within about 5 minutes of the class starting, I can get them focused on the task in hand. But then I don't mind them chatting with their mates as long as they are doing some work. I find that by not constantly being negative and oppressive, the students soon think that I am fantastic, and I often now get students cheering when they see me walking towards their classroom! I also keep a good dialogue with my agency, so they know exactly where I enjoy working and where I don't. There are schools where they don't even bother asking me to go now because they know that I would rather have a day off work and earn nothing than to go to those schools, conversely, there are some schools where my agency will forward my work rota to them so that they know when I am free!

You've created the Cover Teacher Planner, what prompted this?

I was losing track of where I was teaching, and what I had been doing. I also had lost track with what subjects I was teaching. I had taught some really good lessons and picked up some great resources, and wanted a way of tracking these things. But when I looked into the various teachers’ planners I found that they were more focussed on teachers who worked in the same school every day, they didn't give spaces for details of more than 1 school, and they had loads of wasted pages for things like timetables or records of student marks/assessments which I simply had no use for as a supply teacher.

What are the key benefits of using the planner?

I need somewhere that I can keep a track of where I have been working and what expenses I have incurred, so far I have been useless at keeping track of these and making the claims for rebates from HMRC that I am entitled to. I have also had a couple of incidents that have occurred in the classroom that I felt needed to be reported back to the school, and so the incident form was designed to be a generic way of recording those concerns. There is also a place for information from each lesson to be recorded as a reference point in case it is of use in the future, perhaps when working with the same cohort or covering for the same teacher.

How do you envisage the Planner moving forward in the future?

The planner is still a new concept, and so I really do welcome suggestions from others. I would like to make the planner friendlier for all teachers, and a suggestion has been made of making a Welsh-medium version. If there is a demand then I will start working on a 2015/6 version in the autumn. Another idea is to have a generic version which isn't year specific.

What would your top tip for supply teachers be?

Be nice! If you are in the teaching profession for the right reasons then your absolute top priority should be to the students. If you put your students in the centre of what you do then you will naturally build lasting relationships with staff and also with the school. Also, recognise that you are one of many supply teachers that your students will have encountered. They know plenty of excuses to get out of doing the work that has been set, and they have an answer for everything, some students will see you as a target and will deliberately want to wind you up, but if you just respond with a smile and remain pleasant and calm, then other students in the class will realise that you are one of the good ones and will help to manage their co-student's behaviour for you. Focus on positive behaviour, and don't give unnecessary attention to negative behaviour.

What is your favourite resource for supply teaching?

My favourite resource is YouTube. I use it all the time to find clips that I can show to students to help them to understand a concept in a new way, and sometimes to help me to understand things before I begin a lesson. For instance, when I am teaching a subject that I am not necessarily comfortable with (maths, English, science etc.) then I would have a look at the work which has been set and I would then try to increase my own understanding of that subject prior to the lesson by watching a YouTube clip on my phone in the staff room.

And finally! Who would be the ultimate supply teacher and why? 

Caractacus Potts from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He is so friendly, joyful and loving to his family, and also is experimental and innovative.

Experienced secondary supply teacher A. Barrett has kindly provided us with a review of The Cover Teacher Planner, and resident blogger and EYFS supply teacher Jenny's reviewed The Cover Teacher Planner in her June 2014 blog post. The Cover Teacher Planner, created by Gareth, is available to buy from his website.


]]> (Sharon Wood) Supply Teachers Thu, 12 Jun 2014 18:17:56 +0000
Interview with... An SEN Supply Teacher
Interview with an SEN Supply Teacher
An SEN Supply Teacher working through Randstad Education, talks to us about the privilege of working with SEN children.
Why did you choose to be a supply teacher?

Because I want to be in control of when I work and not at the mercy of the LEAs and their Human Resource teams. Also the holiday and travel companies charge a fortune for holidays taken at the end of school terms so really I felt I was working to pay their astronomical fees to go away at the same time as everybody else.

How did you get into supply teaching?

Once qualified many years ago I did not want to go into an LEA pool so I registered with an agency.

What do you take with you on assignment?

Very little because I can think on my feet. Also I work in SEN a lot where the planning is very prescriptive because the pupils need routine.

How do you ensure you'll be called back to work at *that* lovely school?

By being dependable, approachable, flexible and good at what I do. I am also a very good colleague who does not expect the people around me to do all the work. I would not ask somebody else to do something that I am more than capable of doing myself.

What special qualities are required of an SEN supply teacher?

A sense of humour first then the ability to empathize with the pupils and try to have realistic expectations of what the pupils need to achieve. The focus has to be on the individuals needs not what the average student needs. Flexibility is a must and don't ever patronize somebody with learning difficulties. You will probably find that they have more talents in other areas than you do!

Do you have any advice for those wishing to do supply teaching in SEN schools?

Be prepared to be traumatized some days and incredibly humbled on others. Working with pupils who have SEN is a privilege to be earned not something to do because there is nothing else on the day. Their lives are in your hands.

What have you learnt from being an SEN supply teacher?

That I lead an incredibly charmed life and to take nothing for granted. Many of the parents of the children I have taught over the years struggle much more at home with their children than I do at work with them and for some of the pupils coming to school is possibly the only time that they get some individual attention.

How could the lives of supply teachers be improved?

By being paid through the holidays one way or another. By having some sort of back up fund for when you don't get any work. It is my choice to be a supply teacher but not getting paid when I don't or can't work is very worrying. Supply teachers have bills too.

Who would be the ultimate supply teacher and why?

Morgan Freeman because of that voice he could read any story and make it sound amazing.

And finally, what is your favourite supply teacher resource?

I always have the French alphabet with me with the letters written down phonetically to help me teach the pronunciation. For example A is said "aah". The primary children love it because they have a go a spelling out their names in French.

Randstad Education
6th Floor
100 Grays Inn Road
London, WC1X 8AL
Phone: 020 7400 6035 


Randstad Education - Interview with an SEN supply teacher


]]> (Sharon Wood) Supply Teachers Thu, 27 Mar 2014 16:39:00 +0000
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. 

School House Recruitment - The place to find teaching jobs



]]> (Sharon Wood) Supply Teachers Fri, 07 Feb 2014 10:43:24 +0000
Interview with... JT Griffiths
The Sewer Rats - JT GriffithsJT Griffiths, supply teacher and author of The Sewer Rats, give tips and advice for supply teachers.
Why did you get into supply teaching?

Long story - I qualified after doing a PGCE in 1983. Then after a short spell as a secondary RE teacher I did a Post Grad computing science course and spent many years as an analyst/programmer. When my mother suffered a series of strokes I became her carer (for about 5 years). Meanwhile the computer industry moved on and I had always enjoyed training new recruits so jumped at the chance to complete a return to teaching course. Once my mother died I saw supply teaching as a means to get back into teaching.

How did you get into supply teaching?

As a keen dog walker I met the headteacher of a local primary school whilst out for a walk. She suggested I went and helped out and very soon was doing a regular day a week supply via the county, plus many extra odd days. I tried signing on with agencies but was rejected until I had 2 referees from 2 different schools. I had to do half a term as a volunteer in another school to get that reference. Approaching several agencies I found two that now give me regular work (and a further two that never found me anything.)

What do you take with you on assignment?

I have a selection of folders I have compiled marked year R up to year 6 - full of resources for that year. I also take a separate bag (usually kept in the car boot) with track suit and trainers and an assembly ideas book - hoping I won't have to use them. I usually take a John West Pasta & Tuna ready meal that can stay in my bag until needed. I also take spare pens, pencils and pencil sharpeners (all needed in the school I was at yesterday). Perhaps my most important tool is the satnav I got for Christmas, making the journey much easier. Most of the time I don't need the resources, but you can guarantee that when I am told by the agency that all the planning is set there will be no work left. I also take a large diary where I can note down where I was, what was taught etc.

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

If I like the school (and luckily it's most of them) I always try to find the secretary, administrator or headteacher to let them know. Funnily enough those schools where everyone has disappeared by the time I have finished my marking are usually the schools that I am not too bothered about. I usually ring my recruitment consultant on a Friday afternoon to let them know my availability and tell them then if a school has been very good.

What have you learned from being a supply teacher so far?
Organisation. When I worked in the computer industry I was very disorganised. Supply teaching requires a high degree of discipline, from having everything ready at a moments notice, to thinking on your feet when you enter the classroom having been called late and the TAs ask you what you are going to be teaching that day. 
Many supply teachers don't feel they earn enough money, and some seem to have a lot of time on their hands. What have you been doing in your spare time?
My big project over the last year has been writing an ebook. On the many days I was left twiddling my thumbs after 9:30 in the morning, I wondered how I could make a little more money - and enjoy myself. I had worked in several schools that used Berlie Doherty's book 'Street Child', where the children have to guess what comes next at the end of each chapter, and I thought it would be good to write a sci-fi story that could promote class discussion. I set the story far in the future but tried as much as possible to keep to the possible rather than fantasy. The story follows two young sisters escaping from a gang of bullies and finding themselves on an adventure with two young brothers and their bio-computer tattoos. The children stowaway on the skylift into space earning themselves the name of 'the sewer rats.' Escaping from the authorities that want to destroy them they must use their wits and tattoos to foil both a military coup and some strange bugs that we learn are out to destroy humanity. One of the most enjoyable aspects of writing the book was taking it into different year 5 and year 6 classes and testing out ideas. Publishing an ebook on the Amazon store for the kindle is quite easy and hopefully if I sell enough eCopies I will be able to approach publishers to see the book in print.
Do you have any words of advice for those wishing to be a supply teacher?
Don't be nervous, most schools are very supportive. Remember that everyone, even those in permanent posts, learn new things and new ways of teaching every day. It's a dynamic not static profession.
Story time!

I've only once been to a school and had to leave half way through the day, and it wasn't because of the children but because a member of the staff kept coming into my class egging on the children to misbehave. When I first started teaching the occasional child would accidentally call me 'dad', now many years on I get called 'grandad'. Recently a 5 year old boy asked me my age. I replied 53, he said 'you don't look it' and I thought how nice, until he added 'I thought you were much older!'

Who would be the ultimate supply teacher and why?

Well the obvious answer is 'anyone but Michael Gove.' But having said that I would love to watch him try! Otherwise I would choose David Attenborough who I am sure would captivate the children with his knowledge and memories.

And finally, what is your favourite supply teacher resource?

My favourite resource is 'Always Eat Your Bogies' a collection of poems by Andrew Collett. One year 6 boy described me as an adult Horrid Henry for reading a poem about cowpats with gusto.

JT Griffiths' book, The Sewer Rats, suitable for upper Key Stage 2, is available from Amazon here.

]]> (Sharon Wood) Supply Teachers Thu, 16 Jan 2014 11:29:03 +0000