Teachers for Supply

Supply Teachers Blog

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Adapting your teaching to be able to cope with isolations

The whole world is going through a very strange time at present and a time like no other. All schools have had to adapt their way of working in order to reduce the risk of Covid to pupils and staff members. Most schools have staggered start and finish times to allow for a constant flow of students rather than an influx all at the same time.

Teaching has had to change as no longer can children learn the way they used to. Much of the teaching should be done outside if possible and equipment ideally limited and not shared with others as much. Teachers also need to think about how they are going to continue to teach students that are self-isolating. They may be doing this due to a family member having the illness or coming in to contact with someone who has the illness. Just because they have self-isolated once doesn’t mean that they won’t have to do it again, potentially meaning they miss out on lots of school work.

Most teachers have set up online portals where they can upload work for children to do at home and then send it back to them. This is not ideal but is certainly better than them missing out entirely.  

Is supply teaching the job for you?

During your career as a teacher you may find yourself in the position, either because you are between jobs or because it fits in better with family life considering working as a supply teacher.

It is true that there are many advantages to the flexible working patterns that come hand in hand with supply teaching. For instance, if you have young children at primary school you can be free to attend their school events without having to negotiate time off work. It also enables you to fit work commitments around other family responsibilities such as caring for an elderly relative.

Many schools employ supply teachers to cover planned absences of their teaching staff which is generally better for a supply teacher as you may know in advance the year group you will be teaching and the subjects you will be required to teach. This is for some more suitable than having an early morning call to cover absence due to teacher illness however If unplanned cover is not suitable for you this can be made clear when you register as a supply teacher.

Although most teachers will leave planning and resources it is always good to be well prepared and have a selection of open ended teaching resources with you that can be adapted to the age group that you are required to teach.

What is expected of a head teacher?

The role of a head teacher can vary quite significantly depending on which school they are working in.

A school may be without a permanent head teacher for a time but usually an acting head will be put in place for this duration. In an academy, there may be one head teacher across multiple schools so they may not be permanently based in one place. The job of the head teacher is to provide professional leadership for the school. They need to ensure that the correct procedures and guidelines are being adhered to and manage how the budget is to be effectively spent. When schools return in September, head teachers are going to have a very difficult job of managing the Covid-19 safety procedures that will need to be put in place to try and ensure that pupils and teachers are socially distancing as much as possible.  

Some head teachers also teach classes, this is often the case in smaller schools that cannot afford to have too many additional teachers. The head teacher may be available for cover of a class such as when the teacher has PPA time or to cover sick leave.

Are there advantages to working as a supply teacher?

Some teachers choose to work as a supply teacher either because it fits in better with their family life especially if they have young children or are caring for an elderly relative, or because they have just moved into a new area and are unfamiliar with the schools in the new area.

The advantages of the flexible working patterns that come hand in hand with supply teaching suit many teachers. Should you have children of your own at school you will be free to attend their school events without having to negotiate time off work a difficult situation that many teachers face.

Some schools will employ supply teachers to cover planned absence of teaching staff. In this case you may know in advance the year group you will be teaching and the subjects you will be required to teach. This is usually easier than having an early morning call to cover absence due to teacher illness. If unplanned cover is not suitable for you this can be made clear when you visit schools to promote yourself.

One of the main advantages of working as a supply teacher is that the administrative tasks involved in contract teaching is not expected of a supply teacher. Setting and marking of work is required and possibly some short-term assessments but report writing and data collection is not usually part of a supply teachers remit.

Supply teaching in a large primary school

You may think that working as a supply teacher involves the same skills whether you are working in a small rural school or in a large urban primary but you would be mistaken as the role varies greatly with some supply teachers preferring one over the other.

If you are asked to do supply teaching in a larger school the first difference you may encounter is when you arrive at school finding your way around the building. If you are new to the school this can be quite daunting and often requires help from other members of staff until you become familiar with the layout although the children are often helpful in this situation.

The amount of staff in a large school may make it difficult to remember names and roles but always make sure you know the Head Teacher’s name and who you need to approach if you have any concerns. If the class teacher is in school when you are covering their class, it is easier as they will be able to assist you when you are familiarising yourself with the classroom and the class routines.

At break times if you are not on duty you may decide to visit the staffroom. Be aware that in some schools, certain seats and cups are used by some members of staff who do not take kindly to supply teachers using them, so check first – it can stop a frosty atmosphere in the staffroom.

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