How to become a Supply Teacher

How to become a Supply Teacher

Becoming a supply teacher is a great way to take more control over your career. With extra flexibility and a wider variety of teaching settings, it’s an option both experienced and newly qualified teachers are choosing. Here are some tips on both beginning and improving your supply teaching career.

Finding an agency: Choosing the right teaching agency for you

Recommendations are probably the best place to start. Many teaching agencies will promise you the world but receiving a recommendation from an experienced supply teacher is a good way of ascertaining the best agency to work for.

Ask the agency what schools they work with regularly. This will enable you to see whether the teaching agency is suitable for your requirements.

Be wary of choosing a teaching agency on its size. You will probably be kept busier by an agency with not enough teachers then one with too many.

Preparing for your day

If you are given a booking in advance try to get to the school in plenty of time. Schools will panic if you are running late and it does not create a good first impression. Equally, as a supply teacher you will benefit from having enough time to settle yourself, ask any questions in regards to your day and familiarise yourself with the discipline procedure before facing your first class. 8:15 is the optimum time to arrive at an assignment, although for last minute booking this won’t always be possible.

Try to have a few tricks and ideas up your sleeve in order to keep the class occupied should there be no work set. This will give you valuable time to find out what the class should really be doing whilst retaining their concentration.

Your appearance matters. Dress professionally for supply teaching work. This will encourage respect from pupils and help make a good first impression with the school.

Plan your route to the school in advance. If you are going to be late contact your teaching agency so that they can inform the school.

Keep items you will need each day ready in advance. This means when you are given last minute assignments you are able to leave quickly and get to the school earlier. Things you have ready should include:

  • Clean and ironed clothes
  • Your recent DBS Disclosure and some photographic ID (passport or driving licence)
  • Pens and pencils should your pupils have forgotten theirs
  • Some backup schemes of work (as mentioned above)
  • A Sat Nav or A to Z
  • Consider taking a bag with sports kit in case you are asked to cover PE

Maximising your work


 If you have not received a booking prior to the morning, call your teaching agency first thing and inform them you are up, ready and available for work. In the morning your consultant will contact people they know can get to the school with minimum fuss.

If you go to a school you like, let the school know you are available for other assignments. You may find that you are requested by name in the future.

Be flexible. The more flexible you are the more opportunities you are likely to receive.

While you should never use your mobile phone in class or in front of you pupils, do check your phone during breaks for texts and voicemails from your teaching agency, which may have details of further assignments.

Be speedy in the morning. If you can be seen as a person who can leave and get to schools with minimal fuss, the agency will automatically see you as an obvious choice for bookings.

Classroom management strategies

One of the main issues with supply teachers is a lack of enthusiasm for the role. Stay enthusiastic for the position, keep working and never give up on the class and let it rule you. Utilise dos and don’ts below and things will become easier.

Avoid shouting if possible. It can give the impression that you have lost control making it difficult to regain it.

At the start of lesson set clear expectations of the class.

Do not be afraid to accept support. Even the best teachers will have days when support can help

Take the time to get to know the names of the pupils in the class

If you are at the school for a longer period, devise a seating plan to stop disruptive groups forming

Know the names of each individual head of year, and then use them when addressing behaviour issues

Use positive praise of good behaviour to avoid allowing negative behaviour to gain all the attention

Do not highlight you are in the school on a short-term basis. This gives pupils the impression that they do not need to be concerned about you in the long-term

By following the regular pattern of discipline pupils know where they stand, so try to know the school behaviour management system.

If you have some tips and advice you would like to share please feel free to leave a comment below or email us at [email protected] 

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