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How to be a first-class Supply Teacher

supply teacher


Everyday schools rely on Supply Teachers to fulfil unexpected vacancies that arise. For over 10 years London Teaching Pool Ltd have built a reputable service in supplying teachers at very short notice to schools across London and the Home Counties. We rely on our supply teachers to consistently be skilled, reliable and deliver a quality service to all of the schools they are assigned to.

The title ‘Supply Teacher’ often has negative perceptions associated to it, these include, having an ‘easy life’, being ‘job hoppers’, hold ‘no responsibilities’ and require ‘no planning’. We know this is completely the opposite and in fact supply teaching is far more daunting and stressful than it looks. Walking into an unknown school, into an unknown class and not knowing what planning or work or behaviour problems are ahead of you – it is not an easy way to make a living.


Supply teachers are an essential part of the education system in the UK; without them the system would collapse. Schools prefer to recruit the same supply teacher particular those that left with a positive impression and often enough are offered much longer term and permanent contracts.


Here are our top ten tips on being a first-class Supply Teacher


1. Work closely with your agency

Choose a recruitment consultancy who specialise in teaching roles. It wise to stick to one agency where you can build a relationship with one consultant. Here at London Teaching Pool Ltd we provide supply for Primary, Secondary and SEN roles across London and the Home Counties. Each one of our 40 Education consultants are committed to providing a first-class service ensuring your best interests are always looked after. You will meet with your consultant and communicate regularly to ensure your needs are always met.



2. Be ready and flexible

Schools often rely on supply teachers due to a last minute absence. This means you will often be approached with little or no notice, for example, you may receive a call from your agency at 7:30am about a role that starts at 8:30am. It is important you are always ready and have a degree of flexibility to ensure you gain access to as many opportunities as possible. Let your agency know when you register that you are happy to be called with little notice. It is also important to keep your agency informed with your availability and to call them as well as them contacting you.



3. Do NOT be late

Lateness of supply teachers is the biggest turn off for schools where timetables are extremely strict. Being late not only makes a bad impression to senior leaders and hiring managers but it will also set you off on the wrong foot with the children you are about to teach. By arriving on time or even better early, you will have the chance to familiarise yourself with the school and the other teachers. It will also mark you out as someone a school can rely on.

Ensure you plan ahead before you leave and if you are going to be late inform your consultant so that the school can kept up to date.



4. Do your research

As soon as you know what school you will be working at, find out from the agency if there is any more information they can provide you with. For example, are there any pupils with special needs that you might need to prepare for or who may require a teaching assistant present? Additionally, check out the school’s website as this can often give you a flavour of the school and tell you if it has any particular specialisms.



5. Dress to impress

Make sure you always have a professional, clean, ironed work outfit ready the night before. It takes less than 10 seconds to make a first impression, so make sure your clothing sends the right message. Having an outfit ready means less hassle in the morning when you receive a last-minute assignment. Make sure you stand out to ensure you have the best chance of being remembered and called back for future work.



6. Pack an Emergency Supply Kit

Sometimes the teacher you are about to fill in for may not have left any notes to follow especially if it is an unplanned cover i.e. sickness. It is essential you are prepared for such scenarios by bringing your own resources and activity ideas along with you. As a supply teacher it is always good to have something up your sleeves for the unexpected and always have a back-up plan.




7. Before you leave

Leave a handover note for the regular class teacher as they will be in the dark about what their class has been doing. Always ensure the classroom is tidy and everything is put back as you found it when you arrived.



8. Find out about routines

The start of the day is crucial to how well the rest of the day will go, so make sure that you are aware of the daily routine including as fire alarm drills. Children will be reassured those routines have not changed and that you are in command and will prevent you from being caught out whilst in the middle of teaching.



9. Get to know the class

Before you start the lesson spend five minutes getting to know the children in your class. Introduce yourself and why you are there and go around the class asking all children to say their name and something about them i.e. their hobbies / favourite toy.



10. Gratitude and feedback

It is courteous to thank the head teacher on your last day and let them know how you got on. As long as you have performed to your best this will greatly increase your chances of being asked back. It is also important to speak to your consultant and let them know if you would be interested in working there again so they can relay this to their client. Be open and honest, when we know what works for you and what does not we are able to tailor the work to you and ensure that your needs are met as well as those of the school. If you are unhappy, do not bottle it up, be honest about your experiences good or bad, we can and will listen and adapt things to help you.




Supply teaching is a fantastic career choice, one that can provide flexibility and the ability to increase your experience in a short space of time, this is why in particular Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) are encouraged undertake such roles. Hopefully by following these tips you will give yourself the best chance of success.

Good luck!


View all our supply jobs and apply today!



December 1, 2016