A recent report has been published questioning whether supply teachers are fulfilling their roles and educating our children to the level they need to be. This report comes after Ofsted has found that supply teachers in secondary schools are four times more likely than permanent teachers to give sub-standard lessons. Only one third of schools in the UK has a reliable pool of staff that they can call on to come in and cover lessons should they need to. Other schools have to hire staff that they may never have met before and that may be substandard.
These statistics are worrying but we do need to remember that this does not apply to all supply teachers as there are some great ones out there who go the extra mile to ensure their lessons are taught to an exceptional standard.
Teaching agencies can offer a great service to schools, finding staff very quickly for them but schools need to check with the agency as to how they evaluate the supply teachers abilities.
If you are a supply teacher looking for work, you may want to consider registering with an agency. Supply teaching agencies will often have posts available for you to start immediately and once you are on their books, they can put you forward for any new teaching work that comes in.
Most teaching agencies do not charge you to register with them but will take a small percentage of your daily wage once they have found you work. This does put some people off, but the extra amount of work you are likely to get from using an agency will easily more than cover their fees.
To decide which agency to use, I would recommend trying to obtain reviews and also statistics off the teaching agency such as how many job vacancies they currently have on their books. Also confirm any fees up front to avoid disputes further down the line.
If you have been out of full time teaching for a while whether it’s down to a career break or you’ve taken time out for training then a good way to ease yourself back into school life is to do some supply teaching. This be the very nature of supply work will give you a lot of different experiences of a number of schools in a fairly short space of time where you can readjust to school life.
The pay for supply work is quite a bit higher than a salaried teacher due to the fact that the contracts can be very short (even half day contracts) and you are expected to be available at very short notice if the cover is for a teacher whose ill or unexpectedly absent.
You may even decide that you prefer the set-up of agency teaching and that it actually fits in with your lifestyle better than a full time teaching position, either way it’s a great way to bridge the gap when looking to stay in a teaching environment.
As a supply teacher you may have a few gaps in the day caused by lessons finishing early, assembly running late or waiting for resource so it’s always a great idea to have a few short tasks up your sleeve to keep the children occupied and maintain control of the class.
The word game – This is where you write the name of a storybook/film character on the board, e.g Mary Poppins and ask the children to quickly write down all the words that they can make using those letters with a prize for the person with the most words.
The dictionary game – Allow the children to pick a letter then you read from the dictionary the definition of the word and they guess what the word is (ensuring children raise their hand to guess, not shout out)
Hangman – sometimes the oldies are the best and this game is a great simple one that you can play with the whole class to distract them for a few minutes.
Often as a supply teacher you are called into a school that morning to start teaching the lesson at the start of the school day. Often the teacher will have left a lesson plan for you to follow or another teacher at the school will have drafted one for you that morning. As a supply teacher this can be very challenging, coming into a school where you don’t know the children and trying to follow plans, of varying degrees of detail, to produce an effect lesson for all the students.
The first thing to do when you arrive in the classroom is to familiarise yourself with the lesson plan and where things are in the classroom, this is much easier if you have a TA (teaching assistant) on hand to help out. If there are any bits of the lesson plan that don’t make sense to you then you could ask the TA or another teacher or work around it using your own ideas if needs be.
It’s always good practise to take along your own lesson plan as well so that you are prepared if the children complete their tasks quicker than expected or if the lesson plan isn’t working.