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.

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.

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.

what supply teachers can learn from doctor whoIn his latest quest to save the earth from devious monsters, Doctor Who found himself working undercover in a London Secondary School.

Now Doctor Who is no stranger to arriving and having to adapt to new and stressful situations. So we at teachweb thought who better to provide supply teachers with advice on settling in and making an impact?

Therefore here are 3 tips supply teachers can learn from Doctor Who.

1. You don’t have to be around long to make your mark.

Do you remember the 8th Doctor Who? He made but two television appearances. Yet in these appearances he made an impact (of course by saving humanity!) Supply teachers can take away the fact that it is actions that make you memorable, not the length of time you have been around.

2. Expect the unexpected

Doctor Who has vast experience landing in alien environments. As a result of his time travels he is always prepared:

a) As a supply teacher, you may not be able to travel by Tardis, but you can and should plan your journey beforehand.

b) Doctor Who understands knowledge is power. So do your research on your school. If you can, arrive early so you can investigate your school’s people, behavior policy and routines.

c) The Doctor never leaves home without his sonic screwdriver. Make sure you have your essential supply teaching kit at hand. Include:

  1. Back up teaching resources, in case plans haven’t been left for you.
  2. Time filling ideas. The Doctor always has something up his sleeve to keep aliens occupied whilst he plans their destruction.
  3. A set of pens… well you never know.

3. Relationship management (both teachers and children!)

a) Be brave in the face of new environments. Put a big smile on your face and make sure you say hello to everyone you meet. The Doctor’s endless enthusiasm and energy always leaves a good impression.

b) Know that teenagers can be as unpredictable as Daleks. Whatever strange behaviours your students display, earn their respect and trust by positioning yourself as the Doctor would: The professional with the knowledge and experience in the room.

c) The Doctor has met and had to deal with over 400 different types of aliens and monsters during his career as a Time Lord. When meeting a new monster for the first time the Doctor knows it is vital to establish calm and attention. Have some ‘settling’ tricks up your sleeve. These can include word games and number quizzes to capture your student’s focus.

In conclusion: Managing change and renewal is key to the success of both time lords and supply teachers. Every-time the Tardis door opens the Doctor is presented with a new challenge. Yet he always faces up to his fears and triumphs in the end.

Supply teachers can learn a lot from Doctor Who.

And one final tip… always remember to be nice to the school caretaker. You never know when you may need his help.

Get in touch if you would like some more supply teaching tips.

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 teaching 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.