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.

Want to know about the 5  CV tips that will allow you to build a fantastic CV format once that will last you a lifetime? The founder of Teachweb, an experienced recruitment consultant in the education sector, gives his 5 secrets to what recruiters and schools look for when choosing reliable supply teachers.


Writing a winning CV


1.Formatting – The appearance of your CV can make a potential employer continue reading or put them off completely. A neat layout goes a long way. Ensure the font is the same throughout your CV and there are no irregular indentations. Boxes and tables can also look untidy.

2.Experience – With your teacher CV you’re only as good as your last role – or that’s what our Deputy Head clients will want to see. Whether it went well or ended badly – our clients want to see your most recent role -on the first page of your CV. By making sure your school experience is near the top of your CV (above your education) and that your most recent school is the first one on the list, this can make a great first impression. So try to avoid placing details such as  ID numbers and whether you can drive at the top of your CV – these attributes are not your best first impression – your recent teaching experience is!

3.Bullet point explanations – Make sure the content of your CV answers questions like – What did I do at that school? How long was I there? For each role we prefer school name and dates and then below that bullet points listing what your role encompassed. Only stick to the necessary things that will highlight your skillset such as if you were a  form tutor, ran homework club for year 9 or you took a GCSE high achievers class. Please note teaching “hot words” and acronyms are good to use in the bullet points about your roles. They professionalise the CV.

4.Your education – Firstly, this should come after your teaching employment if you are seeking supply teaching work. The reason for this is because much of your education we can assume – if you went to University to do Molecular Physics , followed by a PGCE we can assume you also have GCSE English, ICT and Geography – or that if you don’t it will not be relevant to your application for this particular teaching job. Remember to keep it relevant. We also do not need to know about your subs scouts foraging award or your bronze swimming badge – although these do make good conversation in the interview!

5.Font- This aspect may be overlooked but it is in fact highly important- teaching is a modernised profession highly reliant on new technology! Don’t use times new roman – it gives the impression that you are not “au fait” with modern technology.

Now we have shared our 5 top tips for writing a winning CV, have you got any points that have helped get your CV noticed? Let us know what you think works and what doesn’t when applying for supply teaching jobs.