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.

supply teachers and bands. What they have in commonIn my day job I am a supply teaching recruitment consultant. Yet last night, ‘Matthew’ I was a rock star.

I should explain. Earlier this year I joined a new band. Last week we performed our first gig.

It was both nerve racking and thrilling. Indeed it reminded me of what it was like to stand up in front of a new class for the first time.

Following the gig and our debrief, I started thinking about what new supply teachers can do to minimise the uncertainty and maximise the things they can control to reduce their stress levels. Here are 3 strategies I came up with:

Hit the ground running with unfamiliar equipment

When we arrived to perform our first gig, my band found itself sharing equipment left by the previous band. I needed to be able to pick up where the last band had left off and hit the ground running.

Similarly supply teachers have to pick up where previous teachers left off. Therefore I recommend supply teachers prepare themselves to be not too reliant on specific pieces of teaching kit. In fact supply teachers should prepare themselves for the unexpected.

Coping with nerves

This first gig I performed with my new band was the first gig I had performed in front of a live audience in over 20 years. I have to admit I got really nervous.

However this was when my teaching experience came in handy. I understood that my nerves were actually a positive thing as they helped me to keep alert.

Try to enjoy the teaching experience. Our previous post on using body language to your advantage may also help you.

Laying the stage

When my band rehearses we are able to stand in a formation that enables us to look at one another and to give each other cues. When we took our positions in front of our audience, I realised we couldn’t do this. This threw me somewhat. As a result I realised the importance of rehearsing in full gig configuration.

It’s the same with teaching a new class. Rehearse your lesson plans. Make sure you know them inside out. Knowing your material inside and out will ensure whatever the layout/size of the classroom, you will feel comfortable.

So you see, supply teachers can learn a lot from new pop bands. Ultimately the success of both comes down to practice. I hope you enjoyed this post and would welcome your comments.

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.

Thank you to each and every supply teacher that took part in our ‘tantalise teachweb with your supply teacher travel tales’ competition. It was a tough decision, however we have finally managed to pick a winner.

We are delighted to announce that prize money of £200 will soon be on its way to Nirvasha Jithoo.

And without further ado, here is Nirvasha’s winning entry:

A supply teacher’s summer Holiday in Cape Town

supply teaching travel tales

“My summer holiday was in beautiful Cape Town, South Africa with my family.

As we landed at Cape Town International Airport, the wintery gale winds were in full force accompanied by the pelting rain.

However, this was not a distraction for us to come to Cape Town. As we drove into the city, I was delighted to see the iconic Table Mountain which was covered in a thick cloud and a glowing rainbow which lit up across the sky.

Wild waves hit the rocks at Sea Point and Camps Bay treacherously while the trees swayed vigorously. The coastal drive towards Hout Bay was very scenic. We dined at a lovely restaurant called ‘The Taj’ in Hout Bay.

The next day the weather turned out to be bright, sunny and welcoming. We went on a boat ride to ‘Seal Island’ and to our delight these playful Cape Fur Seals were very happy to see us. They rolled lazily on the rocks, snorting and groaning.

The boat came past the majestic Kabonkelberg mountain range. The spectacular road trip along Chapman’s Peak with the sea below and high mountainous cliffs was truly a spine-tingling experience.

The next day we set off in the early morning to Hermanus. The road journey along Gordan’s Bay into ‘Betty’s Bay’ was breathtaking with the rugged mountain capturing the landscape magnificently along the coast. It was a delight to see the Southern Right Whales as they clustered by the cliff path below the rocks. These gentle giants played with each other and even showed off by breaching spontaneously to every watcher’s amazement.

Upon our departure from Hermanus, we visited the university town of Stellenbosch. We got the opportunity to visit a wine farm and had a taste of the different awarding winning wines. The town was adorned by impressive Dutch, Georgian and Victorian architecture. Shopping at the local mall was a major pass time for the locals, also there were many places to have a cup of coffee and locally made scones.

We also included a separate day trip to the Western Cape coastal towns of Langebaan and Saldhana. I was really curious to see Langebaan which is a special ‘Afrikaner’ dominated town, most of all, it is well known to embrace the first inhabitant, the Khoikhoi and San of the Western Cape Province.

It was a tranquil place with restaurants and holiday resorts, away from the hustle and bustle of Cape Town. The white sand beaches along the Langebaan Lagoon were refreshing. We were able to notice that the town offered numerous opportunities for water sport such as sailing, kayaking and kitesurfing. I enjoyed the thrill of sailing along the lagoon with my brother.

Not very far off, was Saldahna Bay, a natural harbour which is one of the major fishing ports and also a port to export ore from South Africa. The glowing sun on the bay was stunning making it look like a crystal clear glass.

This town peaked my interest on how close and friendly the local people were. They seemed to be content with their daily routines away from the pressures of the big cities in South Africa. The Hoedjieskoppie Nature Reserve in Saldhana was on a hill, the beautiful views and traditional fishermen’s cottages was a picturesque site to see.

As we departed Saldhana Bay, we travelled to Cape Town to spend the late afternoon at Cape Point. The route was immaculate with miles of beaches stretching all the way. In Simonstown, we stopped to buy gorgeous African souvenirs.

We were able to see the first lighthouse since 1859 which stands at the highest section of the peak at Cape Point. The Cape Point is also well known for the main historical route from Europe to India and the East. We eventually finished off the day with a scrumptious meal at the ‘Two Oceans Restaurant’ before departing to Somerset West.

The next day we travelled to Robben Island to visit the island’s prison museum where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years. It was unbelievably poignant and touching to see how the political prisoner who fought against the ‘apartheid’ regime coped all those years in such a harsh terrain succumbed to a small cell.

The views from Signal Hill was unbelievable stretching all the way to Camps Bay. As the thick cloud over Table Mountain moved away the sun captured the spark of the city of Cape Town. The hill rise is surrounded by the beautiful proteas. The sunset from Signal Hill was really blissful and calming for the soul.

Our last day in Cape Town was at Camps Bay where we spent time relaxing on the beautiful beach to enjoy cool drinks and ice-cream.

I completed my holiday with so many wonderful memories and moments as I departed to return to London assimilating the contrasts of the poor and wealthy communities in Cape Town, most of all it’s incredible landscape beauty to political changes of the transition from the ‘apartheid’ era to a present day democratic country with a constitution that holds no prejudice against colour or religious sect. It was a fantastic trip and I would return again for another holiday.”

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

About travel loving supply teacher agency owner Rick Smallwood:

Rick 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.