As a child I remember walking through that classroom door to see an unfamiliar, awkward smiling face and being surrounded by a ‘buzz’ as the news spread “we’ve got a supply!”. To many children, a supply teacher meant ‘fun day!’. It means no ‘real work’. It means colouring in and lots of playing. It means you can get away with things that you couldn’t with Mr/Miss/Mrs x because they don’t know you and wouldn’t be back again for a while. However, as an eager learner I dreaded these days of boredom, a disruptive class and sometimes chaos! I longed to have my teacher back who would provide structure, challenge and a calm learning environment.
Yesterday BBC news reported that the increasing demand for supply teachers is having negative affects on pupils’ learning. Their findings suggest that “work set is often too undemanding and does not engage learners.” This is exactly the main reason why myself and another teacher Christine Hunter have set up a high quality supply agency Apple A Day Supply. As teachers ourselves, we know the various possible frustrations of a class teacher following a day with a supply teacher. The amount of times that we returned to find out that our Year 4 class had spent most of the day colouring or had gone on a 2D shape hunt- where is the challenge? Piles of sheets on the desk for ME to stick in! My classroom looked like a bomb had hit it and some how all of the rulers were missing!
I think that with clear expectations, monitoring of lesson planning, clear communication and feedback from schools; the quality of supply teachers would increase. We have found that we are having to turn some supply teachers down who look to register with us as their expectations and attitudes towards the job aren’t up to our standards. As an agency you have a responsibility to ensure that your teachers are of high quality. They are not just a name and location on a list. They are someone that children are spending their day at school with and the children deserve the best.
See the link below for more on the BBC article