When you are supply teaching you will embark on a new adventure every day.

You will encounter new people, new routines and new challenges.

Not every teacher is cut out for supply teaching.

Then again not every supply teacher is cut out for full time teaching.

Take our test to find out whether supply teaching is right for you.

1. Can you get out of bed on the right side, on the bright side… every day?

Can you leave home at 7:30am looking smart, with a travel card and a bright and breezy attitude?

Your can expect to receive most supply teaching daily calls between 7:20am and 7:40am.

2. Do you have a good memory for names?

As a supply teacher you will need to be able to build a rapport with your students quickly. Learning your students’ names will immediately gain you respect. Students love it when supply teachers know their names. The more you know about each other the more comfortable you and your students will feel working together.

Are you adept at picking your battles wisely?

As a supply teacher you may well be regarded as ‘the invisible person’. Although enforcing rules you disagree with is important, as a temporary member of staff, trying to enforce every rule may lead you to battles you cannot possibly win. For example keeping a year 11 class cleaning the room at break on your first meeting.

Also you should remember you may not have the opportunity to follow up sanctions you have given.

Start your day by getting to grips with the rules you are expected to follow. Then use your initiative to enforce the rules you know will help you to run your class smoothly.

Can you grasp core elements of lessons fast?

Can you bring some of your general knowledge into a variety of subjects to give life to a stack of photocopied sheets? Great, then you will hit ground running.

Can you teach when you are tired?

Let’s be honest, there will always be days when you feel too tired to face a sea of new faces. It’s only natural.

Can you dig deep to get the energy you need to engage your students when all you feel like doing is tucking up in a fleece sleeping bag in front of a box set of Game of Thrones?

Follow these simple rules and you will soon feel energised again.

    • Make sure you get plenty of sleep.
    • Eat 3 square meals a day.
    • Get plenty of exercise.
    • Give yourself time to switch off. (Yup, that means unplugging all those distracting devices).

If you are a person seeking a flexible way of working and one that also embraces change, then supply teaching offers many benefits. You are guaranteed to broaden your teaching experiences and with those you will enhance your career prospects.

Rick Smallwood, Founder teachweb supply teaching agency
Rick Smallwood, founder, teachweb

 About the author: Rick Smallwood is a former chemistry teacher and founder of leading London and the South East supply teacher agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.

Think you know everything about supply teaching?

It is surprising how some teachers can be misinformed about what the role entails.

In this post we explain the reality behind the myths.

1. There is not much supply teaching work about

Make hay while the sun shines! Demand for daily supply teaching work does indeed vary with the seasons.

Know that during the winter months you can expect lots of supply teaching work. The reason? During the winter months illness stalks the average hard working teacher.

During the summer months however, especially in the run up to and just after the summer holidays, you can expect not so much work to be about. Therefore take advantage of your free time and plan your summer break.

Of course long-term supply teaching is guaranteed all year round at rates of £150 per day through to £250 per day. Long–term supply teaching is a good option for those requiring the flexibility to be able to leave a job within a week or two’s notice. Furthermore part-time long-term work can suit teachers needing to miss days regularly.

2. Changes to AWR regulations mean supply teachers are getting less work

The Agency Worker Regulations (AWR) has been great news for some supply teachers. Under AWR, agency supply teachers are are entitled to equal rights, including the same pay, as permanent members of staff after just 12 weeks in the job. Prior to AWR experienced teachers could stay on low pay rates for months, even years. Schools had no obligation to pay more.

As of July 2016 we have observed the following. AWR regulations have introduced lots of negotiation into pat rates, even though schools are not now obliged to pay teachers what they were paid in their last role (see STPCD from 2013 – https://www.teachers.org.uk/files/ascl-pay-policy-guidance-may-2013.pdf ). This change made much of AWR irrelevant in theory although we note that most schools still honour the old pay system simply to avoid alienating all teachers!

So yes time-sheet teachers are getting gross amounts far in excess of the old days, however a more over-zelous tax man is getting his hands on much more supply teacher pay too (see later article).

 

The bottom line is that agency teachers earn far more on average once they complete 12 weeks and above.

3. Long term supply teachers do not have to mark or prepare lessons

This is false. If a school is unfortunate enough to loose a teacher for let’s say 8 months (on a full time timetable) and books a replacement teacher, they will expect the replacement teacher to do what the outgoing teacher did.

If a replacement teacher doesn’t fully cover the job, who else will do it? Marking, preparation and attending parents’ evenings are part of long term supply teaching assignments. However, job security comes to supply teachers who teach well.

4. Supply teaching will impact my professional development

Whatever you do in life, if you stay in the same environment your working style can become insular.

Supply teaching provides you with opportunities to observe and learn from other teachers. You will be able to see how they teach, plan and assess and get ideas about the best ways of doing things.

Of course it goes without saying that supply teachers exposed to different age groups will benefit from a diversity of learning styles.

Indeed supply teaching provides a great path for newly qualified teachers to gain a broad range of experience.

5. Students will always be “challenging”

As with any complex system, and a classroom is certainly that; there are some things within your control and others outside of it. Arrive early to give yourself prep time. Try to actively teach the lesson objectives. Supply teachers who make the effort will be successful. Supply teachers who don’t… can fail spectacularly. Bring as much as you can into your area of control.

Of course if:

• Classes you have been assigned to have been taken by a string of agency supply teachers.
• Your students have just come in from a 3-hour exam and you have been tasked with teaching them some material on the “rock cycle”.
• Your school has no real behaviour for learning policy

Then even with good preparation you might struggle.

Fortunately there are not many schools like this. Most London schools now have a good idea of how to create a working atmosphere and keep students engaged.

And most are supportive of agency supply teachers… They have paid for you after all!

Things you can do to mitigate challenging situations are:

1) Learn a few names in the class as soon as you arrive.
2) Read through the work. Have an idea of the main objectives of the lesson and the main tasks.
3) Learn the terms associated with the schools behaviour for learning policy, i.e. “3 warning system”, “referral room”. Also the name of the person on duty, the name of the teacher you are replacing etc. Demonstrate familiarity with the school and your students will be surprised and more respectful.

6. It is mainly schools with students displaying challenging behavior that require supply teachers

In fact supply teachers are needed for a variety of reasons. To cover sickness, maternity cover, jury service and more. Recently we have seen an increased demand for supply teachers in independent and private schools.

Teaching in general is more stressful than it was in 2006. Stress is linked to sickness. We see a bigger turnover of teachers in stressful, urban, challenging environments, but if you are good at what you supply teach and you have references to say so, many doors will be open to you.

So don’t be put off by the myths. Get in touch and we will help you embark on your supply-teaching career. We look forward to meeting you.

Rick Smallwood, Founder teachweb supply teaching agency
Rick Smallwood, founder, teachweb

 About the author: Rick Smallwood is a former chemistry teacher and founder of leading London and the South East supply teacher agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.

secondary school supply teaching appIf ever there was a job where you are expected to hit the ground running, it is secondary school supply teaching.

On a good assignment, you turn up and are fully briefed and resourced.

Yet on a challenging assignment, you could:

  • Be thrown in at the deep end.
  • Be expected to engage a class of 30 from the word go.
  • Not know where to find the resources you need to be able to complete your tasks.
  • Be presented with a plethora of excuses and objections from students.

Luckily you live in the age of the app. Whatever your secondary school supply teaching challenge, know that there is bound to be an app for that.

Here are my top 5 apps for making your teaching life considerably easier.

1.   OneNote

Copywriters use swipe files to gather templates for inspiration. Take a leaf out of their books and gather thoughts and ideas from all of your teaching experiences. Clip useful pages from the Internet. Take pictures of your best whiteboards. Save useful emails. Then access them across your devices.

2.   ClassBreak

This app has been specifically designed for teachers by teachers. It gives you all the information you need for getting to know a new class right through to filling in twenty minutes at the end of the day with a fun game. According to the app manufacturers ClassBreak is: “Perfect if you have been given a late replacement class or the activity you planned for did not take the entire lesson.”

3.   Focus Booster

Keep track of time. Send notifications to remind you when it is assembly time. Uses the ‘Pomodoro’ (yes tomato!) technique to time manage your day. The method involves short periods of attention followed by quick breaks. Perfect for the teaching day.

4.   PE Shake

Have you been put in charge of a PE class? Stuck for warm up ideas? PE Shake has 100 PE warm up games that are easy to set up and require minimal equipment. Games are suitable for both primary and secondary school students.

5.  Easy PD

Never again will you need to keep extensive paperwork. Capture and record your teaching assignments. Easily record your personal development. Also upload photographic evidence. Supply teaching is great for new teachers trying to gain experience. This is the perfect app for recording your achievements.

In this post I have simply picked 5 of my favourite apps for secondary school supply teaching. I know that there are many more out there.

Please do let us know if there is an app that is transforming your teaching day. We would love to share it.

Rick Smallwood, Founder teachweb supply teaching agency
Rick Smallwood, founder, teachweb

 About the author: Rick Smallwood is a former chemistry teacher and founder of leading London and the South East supply teacher agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.

How to build teaching experienceHave you completed your teacher training? Are you considering your options?

Before you commit to a full time teaching role, I recommend you consider supply teaching.

If you are a newly qualified teacher supply teaching will provide you with:

  • The opportunity to work in a variety of schools before committing to a full time teaching role.
  • The demonstrable teaching experience you need to help you stand out from the crowd when applying for teaching jobs.
  • Introductions to the contacts you need for securing your dream-teaching job.

When you supply teach, you are guaranteed to develop your skills and put into practice the methods you have learnt. In particular you will have the opportunity to:

  • Increase your knowledge and confidence in planning and delivering lessons effectively without having to worry about the burden of paperwork and administration normally involved with a full time teaching role.
  • Observe and talk to different teachers and pick up tips about how they:
    • Plan and teach lessons.
    • Handle difficult students with tact and understanding.
    • Assess work.
  • Experiment with different approaches of:
    • Classroom management and getting student’s attention.
    • Teaching and presentation styles.
    • Getting the most value out of technology.

Elsewhere supply-teaching will help you to:

  • Develop your teaching resources
  • Develop the CV you need for securing your dream-teaching job.
  • Help you to prepare for observed interview/trial lessons (which in some ways are very similar to supply lessons).

So congratulations for completing your teaching training. Now take the next step in setting the foundations you need for a successful career in teaching.

Do this by building up your teaching experience through supply teaching.

Rick Smallwood, Founder teachweb supply teaching agency
Rick Smallwood, founder, teachweb

 About the author: Rick Smallwood is a former chemistry teacher and founder of leading London and the South East supply teacher agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.

supply teaching administrationWhen a teacher registers with teachweb, one of my first jobs is to check the teacher’s documentation. It is all part of the service. My role is to make both supply teacher’s and school’s lives easier and admin free.

Until now I have been proud of my tightly controlled supply teaching administration processes, designed to reduce the risk of loss of essential documents in transit to and from school.

Elsewhere I do not want schools to waste valuable time administering supply teachers at the start of a busy school day.

So upon going back to the floor as a supply teacher, imagine my surprise when a placement school asked me to present my passport, DBS check and QTS certificate.

This struck me as duplication of effort.

Doing things because they have always been done this way

I am sure that akin to other organisations, schools carry out inefficient administrative processes… simply because they have always been done that way and form part of the day-to-day administrative workflow.

Supply teaching administration lessons learnt

However from my experience I have learnt the importance of:

• Continually assessing my supply teaching administration processes.
• Continually communicating the benefits of my well-established steps to the schools I work in partnership with.
• Showing schools how my supply teaching administration processes benefit them in terms of:

  • Fewer delays.
  • Time efficiencies.
  • Reduction in duplication of effort.

And ultimately better relationships with their supply teachers.

Rick Smallwood, Founder teachweb supply teaching agency
Rick Smallwood, founder, teachweb

 About the author: Rick Smallwood is a former chemistry teacher and founder of leading London and the South East supply teacher agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.

Supply teachers need instructions

Last week I had a supply-teaching placement covering a PE lesson. It wasn’t my best lesson. In fact if I am honest, I felt the lesson was quite chaotic.

It wasn’t helped by the fact that I spent the first 20 minutes of the lesson struggling to open the games store cupboard.

Then, when I finally managed to open the games store cupboard, my students rushed in to get their equipment… and enough balls came out to scatter the children to different areas of the playground in separate mini games.

As I was on my own, I found this situation tough to manage. I could have done with a large tannoy speaker.

When I got home that night, I started to think about how this day could have been better managed. I concluded that all my problems came down to the brief I was given.

So how can a school prepare for supply teacher cover?

Take the time to put together a simple instruction document or even a supply teacher’s handbook, so that:

  1. Both the school and the supply teacher have an essential point of reference.
  2. Logistical issues are considered and addressed before the supply teacher starts work.
  3. Trust and understanding can be developed between the school and its supply teachers.

Make sure a supply teacher’s instructions/handbook:

  • Includes a brief section detailing the school’s policies.
  • Details where key facilities are located, i.e.:
  1. Toilets.
  2. Gym.
  3. Library.
  4. Head master’s office.
  • Provides a timetable (times of assemblies etc.).
  • Highlights primary tasks that need attending to.
  • Explains where resources can be found to enable the tasks to be completed.
  • Includes warnings. Do not expect the supply teacher to second-guess processes that are familiar to you.

In this instance a simple set of instructions would have told me that rather than spending 20 minutes trying to force a stiff lock… I simply should have turned the lock the other way.

In conclusion, by providing your supply teacher with detailed instructions that cover all of the bases, you can be confident that:

  • Your supply teacher will be informed.
  • The handover to the supply teacher will be seamless.
  • Teaching staff and students alike will benefit from an organised day.

Does my experience sound familiar to you? Do tell me if you have a supply teacher experience you would like to share?

Rick Smallwood, Founder teachweb supply teaching agency
Rick Smallwood, founder, teachweb

 About the author: Rick Smallwood is a former chemistry teacher and founder of leading London and the South East supply teacher agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.

chemistry supply teacher‘Zippin’ up my boots. Goin’ back to my roots…Yeah!’

Yes, this week I have gone back to the place where my career started. Back down to earth… supply teaching in London secondary schools.

My name is Rick Smallwood. I am a qualified chemistry teacher. During my teaching years I worked in many schools that used a large amount of supply. I also worked as a supply teacher.

Now as founder of teachweb, I spend a lot of my time giving supply teachers advice about how to get the best out of their day.

But is my advice correct? Am I focusing on the right issues? Has the lot of a supply teacher changed over the last decade?

There was only one way for me to find out. To fully understand a supply teacher’s real issues, I needed to get my hands dirty and go ‘back to the floor!’

Therefore over the last couple of weeks or so, I have been doing just that. I have booked myself into supply teaching jobs with the objectives to:

• Engage with teaching staff and students.
• Experience at first hand the day-to-day reality of supply teaching.

Over the next few weeks I will be feeding back my experiences to you and letting you know the lessons I have learned.

So far, I have I learnt:

What my students think of me

Much to my surprise, due to my shaven head, students regularly mistake me for a character in EastEnders.

Lessons learnt (or to be debated?)

Is it better to fess up to being Rick Smallwood, or should I exploit my student’s fantasy that their daily supply teacher moonlights at night as a soap star?

How to get inspiration: Get a muse

During one of my placements I was tasked with attending a Eucharist church service.

I was amazed at how a modern vicar was able to generate energy and capture the attention of students from a very urban area.

In fact I have to say the vicar managed to engage both students and staff.

Year 11 students were enlightened to the importance of their work this term and next.
They appeared more than happy to let this dare I say ‘unlikely’ muse motivate them to prioritise their work over and above their social lives.

So please do watch this space. I am indeed looking forward to reporting my findings… the good, the bad and the ugly of supply teaching.

In the meantime if you have any of your own stories to tell, please do pass them on.

Rick Smallwood, Founder teachweb supply teaching agency
Rick Smallwood, founder, teachweb

 About the author: Rick Smallwood is a former chemistry teacher and founder of leading London and the South East supply teacher agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.

12 days of supply teaching with teachweb

On the 1st day of Christmas, Teachweb gave to me

The most generous rates of any teaching agency.

On the 2nd day of Christmas, Teachweb gave to me

An easy job finding service and the most generous rates of any teaching agency.

On the 3rd day of Christmas, Teachweb gave to me

An ultra fast application process, an easy job finding service and the most generous rates of any teaching agency.

On the 4th day of Christmas, Teachweb gave to me

A loyal, friendly consultant, an ultra fast application process, an easy job finding service and the most generous rates of any teaching agency.

On the 5th day of Christmas, Teachweb gave to me

A CV that gets me noticed, a loyal, friendly consultant, an ultra fast application process, an easy job finding service and the most generous rates of any teaching agency.

On 6th day of Christmas, Teachweb gave to me

Sound interview advice, a CV that gets me noticed, a loyal, friendly consultant, an ultra fast application process, an easy job finding service and the most generous rates of any teaching agency.

On 7th day of Christmas, Teachweb gave to me

Tips for getting references, sound interview advice, a CV that gets me noticed, a loyal, friendly consultant, an ultra fast application process, an easy job finding service and the most generous rates of any teaching agency.

On 8th day of Christmas, Teachweb gave to me

Supply teaching kit advice, tips for getting references, sound interview advice, a CV that gets me noticed, a loyal, friendly consultant, an ultra fast application process, an easy job finding service and the most generous rates of any teaching agency.

On 9th day of Christmas, Teachweb gave to me

Tips for managing my supply teaching day, supply teaching kit advice, tips for getting references, sound interview advice, a CV that gets me noticed, a loyal, friendly consultant, an ultra fast application process, an easy job finding service and the most generous rates of any teaching agency.

On 10th day of Christmas, Teachweb gave to me

Tips and advice from fellow supply teachers, tips for managing my supply teaching day, supply teaching kit advice, tips for getting references, sound interview advice, a CV that gets me noticed, a loyal, friendly consultant, an ultra fast application process, an easy job finding service and the most generous rates of any teaching agency.

On 11th day of Christmas, Teachweb gave to me

Alerts about long term and daily secondary supply teaching jobs, tips and advice from fellow supply teachers, tips for managing my supply teaching day, supply teaching kit advice, tips for getting references, sound interview advice, a CV that gets me noticed, a loyal, friendly consultant, an ultra fast application process, an easy job finding service and the most generous rates of any teaching agency.

On 12th day of Christmas, Teachweb gave to me

My ideal supply teaching job, alerts about long term and daily secondary supply teaching jobs, tips and advice from fellow supply teachers, tips for managing my supply teaching day, supply teaching kit advice, tips for getting references, sound interview advice, a CV that gets me noticed, a loyal, friendly consultant,an ultra fast application process, an easy job finding service and the most generous rates of any teaching agency.

All the staff at teachweb wish you a very merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.

Rick Smallwood, Founder teachweb supply teaching agency
Rick Smallwood, founder, teachweb

 About the author: Rick Smallwood is a former chemistry teacher and founder of leading London and the South East supply teacher agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.

supply teaching interviewsDo you get nervous at interviews? Don’t worry. In this, the last in our 4 part series about ‘How to win your ideal supply teaching job’, we have gathered together some tips to help you to leave a positive lasting impression at supply teaching interviews.

1. What’s in it for me?

Remember that this is also an opportunity for you to find out what the school can do for you. So prepare a list of at least 5 questions to ask the interviewer.

2. Do your research

Fail to plan. Plan to fail as they say. Get as much background information as you can about the school. Ask you supply teaching agency to brief you about your interviewers and the department you will be working for.

3. Rehearse your answers

Ask your supply-teaching agency to provide you with a list of the most common interview questions. Be confident in the knowledge that your supply teaching agency has heard them all. Rehearse your answers prior to your interview.

4. Demonstrate your experiences

Demonstrate how you have been able to learn from both good and bad teaching experiences. Have examples at hand.

5. Show you can add value to the school

Talk about interests and passions that could add value to school activities and initiatives. For example if you are a DT teacher who is interested in radio controlled cars, your school would be delighted if you could help out at the RC car club.

4. Exude confidence

Do use positive body language and voice. Take a look at this blog for tips about mastering body language to your advantage.

5. Look the part

Do dress appropriately and in a way that gives you confidence.

Finally, relax and try to enjoy it. Remember you will learn from every interview you attend.

Rick Smallwood, Founder teachweb supply teaching agency
Rick Smallwood, founder, teachweb

 About the author: Rick Smallwood is a former chemistry teacher and founder of leading London and the South East supply teacher agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.

succeeding at observed interview lessonsCongratulations! Your CV has got you through the school’s front door. Now you need to demonstrate your skills, experience and personality. Here are some tips to help you to shine during your observed interview lesson.

How to succeed in an observed interview lesson

1.   Make yourself aware of latest Ofsted lesson criteria and use it

Know that Ofsted is keen for teachers to:

  • Conduct mini plenaries. Show students understand topics taught and demonstrate you are on top of how learning is progressing.
  • Incorporate group tasks into a lesson, as opposed to just teacher led tasks.

2.  Learn and use some of your students’ names

Show the school you are keen to get to know and build good relationships with your students.

3.  Make sure you can fit into your lesson all you have planned

Keep your lesson plan simple. At this point your school is looking to find out how you introduce topics, engage your class, teach the topics and assess your class’s understanding of what you have taught.

4.   Make sure you acknowledge student’s good behaviour

One of the most effective ways to promote the display of good behaviour by a class is to reward those who demonstrate it.

5.   Make sure you address low-level class disturbance

Your message needs to be simple, clear and non-negotiable.

6.   Make sure you follow your school’s behaviour for learning policy

Showing that you have done your homework and are keen to fit in from the start will earn you extra brownie points.

7.   Try to match differentiation and pacing to your class

Always have a plan up your sleeve in case students race through your lessons.

We hope you have found this post useful and welcome your comments.

Look out for the last part of our How to win your ideal supply teaching job series, when we provide you with advice for succeeding at interviews.

Until next time:

Rick Smallwood, Founder teachweb supply teaching agency
Rick Smallwood, founder, teachweb

 About the author: Rick Smallwood is a former chemistry teacher and founder of leading London and the South East supply teacher agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.