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All discipline problems are supply teachers' fault - apparently!

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by Ultrafin, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. Well that's what most permanent teachers seem to believe, according to the enlightening staff briefing I attended this morning.

    In a relatively small secondary school in South Wales during staff briefing one male teacher raised the question of worsening pupil behaviour. He was worried that when a senior member of staff was called for to help, it might be 10-15 minutes before someone came. As he said, the pupils may have had 3-4 supply teachers and so will be out of control, and they are allowed to get away with anything. General murmur of agreement around the rest of the staff. The DH did say "but we don't blame the supply teachers" (she knew I was sitting right behind her, we'd been introduced earlier), and of course the original teacher, said, "no of course we don't blame the supply teachers".............. but they do! The general consensus seemed to be, supply teachers can't control the classes, and then the permanent staff have to deal with the result of that lack of control.

    Once I was introduced to the staff room as the only supply teacher for the day, oh we did all have a good chortle. As I was leaving the staff room a TA came up to me and announced she felt it was wrong there were so many supply teachers in her school, there was no continuity for the children, and it was just plain wrong. Not quite sure what she wanted me to answer, "oh then all staff should never take any sickness or CPD leave", or "I know the TAs should take over (the world)".

    I was intrigued and quite shocked by the entrenched views the staff seemed to hold about supply teachers. I was also astounded by the rudeness of the TA. I felt like I had to defend the whole supply teaching profession. I didn't of course, I just smiled and agreed with her, well I was outnumbered! It has to be said that the large majority of pupils I met today were a pleasure to teach, and it was only the last class of disenchanted Y11 boys that were difficult, and I managed to keep them sitting down, quiet (mostly) and focussed (partly) on the work. Even with the interruption of a fire alarm to contend with.

    One of the reasons pupils get wound up during supply lessons, is when the work set is useless, as my last lesson of 10 Y11 boys watching a film of John the Baptist illustrated, but I felt incredibly unwelcome today. Do regular teachers not realise that ultimately it is the pupils and the school who are to blame if things go wrong?

    Has anyone else encountered such deep seated hostility?
  2. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    The thing is, that's a true statement.

    It's not the supply teacher's fault, but it is true.

    Today's kids ignore anyone who does not know their name and who may not follow up on a sanction - they only take the teachers who not only set sanctions, but follow them up again and again and again.

    And they know supply teachers won't/can't do that.

    And, eventually, the problem is left to those teachers who are there to set, enforce and follow up on sanctions.
    But then again, the person setting the work has no idea if the supply teacher will be a specialist in the subject or, sometimes, if they can even speak English!
  3. But surely that is the point. If all supply teachers had a process by which the sanction follow up was set into motion and then completed whether the supply teacher was there or not, there wouldn't be an issue.

    If a pupil won't sit down when I ask for example, and then becomes confrontational, I send for the HoD, if that HoD then sets into motion the sanction procedure for what would have happened had I been a permanent member of staff, then problem solved.

    I think it is difficult to break new ground as a supply teacher, but if the pupils see us getting the same support as the regular staff, and have the names of the pupils on a readily available register, and appropriate, relevant work set before the lesson, then w=our jobs would be a whole lot easier, as would the jobs of the permanent teachers whose lessons follow ours.

    I truly believe it is the acceptance as fact that supply teachers are rubbish and can't cope, rather than the understanding that our job is particularly difficult and we need the full support of the staff, that causes the problem.

    No, they don't but they could do better than turn up 20 minutes after the lesson has started with a wordsearch the pupils have already done. Mutual respect, that's all I am asking for!!
  4. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    Not so much hostility among staff as an unwillingness to engage - far too much to do. **** cover work is often par for the course, although it varies considerably between subjects and departments. I'm just over halfway through a long term job and I have the absolute bare minimum to do with the full-time staff, and stay out of the staffroom as often as I can. I try not to trouble HoYs, and even do my best to keep out of the HoD's way unless it's unavoidable. We're supposed to be seen and not heard, and nobody cares much for our background story. I have longer conversations with CSs, TAs, and other part-time staff than I do with any others. It's best to try and get on with TAs as they're the eyes and ears in your room.

    The kids generally expect you to be rubbish by default and can be quite dismissive even when you'r e putting quality tried and tested work in front of them. They may grant some grudging approval after many weeks of working with them. It also varies with age - I found older students generally more friendly than younger ones, who often lack the maturity to cope with change. By far the worst are Year 9, although they're generally a pain in the **** for everyone anyway because of all the hormones.
  5. I'm new to supply after years of teaching and the behaviour thing has me stumped. I'm primary buti guess there are issues whatever the age. In my school I am teaching every afternoon as PPA cover and lessons are planned as usual lessons and not as random worksheets but still, I am left an objective and a few lines and done sheets or a task to complete. The kids know I am supply and see them in an afternoon so can't bribe with missing play etc. I do have their behaviour policy to follow in KS1 which involves moving a child's name on a traffic light from green through amber to red and even onto the black background. It's hard on a Monday as they start with a clean slate but if on my other KS1 day a Friday names are still all on green then I know behaviour is due to me. A couple of kids are on monitoring sheets for their behaviour so i do have a bribe there not that it makes much difference to some. On 2 afternoons I have y5/6 and they are awful for me. Their class teacher lectures me on what's acceptable and not and does pop in and out of lessons. She had tables in rows when I started but went to groups after a few weeks and behaviour deteriorated. She wanted to move them back but decided I had to do it as a punishment one day if they didn't behave and sure enough we were moving kids by the end if the day. I heard bits discussing it was my fault and they should aim to get me sacked next week. I told their teacher this and she thought it was rather funny. I am now getting alot if resistance in that room. Not really sure what the solution is as they behave for her and other permanent staff just not me or any other supplies. Think i am rambling a bit but there doesn't seem to be a way round it. Supplies for years have had this problem as its a status thing as far as kids go, probably their parents too!! I am left with the tedious lessons to teach - y5/6 Tudor dancing, PHSE, French, topic which don't seem to have as much importance and I often have to remind the class their work was set by their teacher and not my choice of activity!!
  6. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    If a school finds itself having many different supply teachers they need to ask themselves why?
    Decent schools have few problems in having supply teachers willing to return for repeat bookings.
  7. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    In nearly 12 years of being on supply, all but one of my longer-term placements has been replacing a teacher who was off with stress.
    They were not coping with certain challenging pupils/classes but the continued poor behaviour from those pupils/classes was no doubt later attributed to them having had a supply teacher for 3, 5 or 8 months!
    When I get repeat bookings for a day at a time at certain schools , it tends to be covering the same absent teacher on the same day of the week. They dread bottom set Yr 9 MFL last thing on a Friday and phone in sick (I don't blame them !), getting paid and leaving people like me to deal with the worst day of their timetable and take the flak for the poor behaviour.
    It has long been my position that pupils should be penalised with a double sanction when they contravene their school's discipline code in the presence of a visitor to their school. It would send out a clear message that the SMT value the temporary staff that come to their rescue at short notice.
  8. historygrump

    historygrump Lead commenter Forum guide

    We all know that kids with as supply teacher seek to act up, especially if the school a a poor SLT. However I find that a school with a good SLT and who support the teachers (both permanent and supply) generally reduces the issues of poor behaviour. I have classes from Hell, in which the HoD says good luck before the class as begun. Yet In classes with poor behaviour, I have used the school behavioural policy or the wide range of strategies developed to deal or reduce poor behaviour, to the extent that in the past, the SLT as called in to the class to see why they have not been called as it would appear with normal class teacher it is a regular occurance.
    I admit that I have been forced to call in the SLT in the past and it is usually in schools with a poor HT and SLT, rather then in a school with a strong SLT. So schools should look at themselves first, rather then blame the supply teachers, because poor behaviour can occur with permanent class teachers classes, rather then just supply teachers due to the lack of will power by the school to implement punishment for breaking the rules, even minor ones like uniforms.
  9. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    When I have no alternative but to call SMT, they take ages to come and sometimes don't manage it before the end of the lesson. That tells me a lot about why the classes push things to the Nth degree.
    The most challenging pupils usually find some way to conceal their identity (using an absent pupil's exercise book or saying that theirs is at home and using paper insted, with no name or a fictitious name added.
    Miss jubilee can be like a dog with a bone, though, and will make notes on the pupil's build, hair colour, hair style, presence or absence of freckles, acne etc, and make of backpack and will then hand in reports to SMT so that they can follow up if they see fit. I sometimes get to look at the school's photo records to pick out the offending pupils but it can be difficult to identify a Yr 9, 10 or11 pupil from their Yr7 photo. Why don't schools update the photo record at the start of every school year?
  10. You have to remember teachers are just humans and often have the same shortcomings and failings as the worst of the rest.
  11. billa

    billa New commenter

    I did a long term last year and the "animal man" visited with snakes and stuff for a top set year 8 I shared. Nice kids and videod for posterity. Next day a phone all to the department from the head toask whether they'd noticed an excluded brother in the class. Obviously head wouldn't communicate with a lowly supply teacher but luckily I was in the prep room when the phone call came through so was able to check video and HoD who shared class questioned them. No interlopers. Next morning at briefing - head informed all that excluded kid had been in class and she believed him because lesson covered by a supply teacher.
  12. Or you get utter planks like the one I had who was horrified when I called him to attention by name. He was all full of indignation, "How you know my name's Damien Miss? Who told you?"
    Then I pointed out I'd been stood watching him doodle it on his pencil case for the last 10 minutes while I was waiting for him to stop doing what he was doing and listen to the instructions... he turned a very amusing shade of red and I swear that his carefully gelled hair spikes deflated at least 2cm as well as the rest of his general demeanour.
    I also love it when they pass notes... using the back of the worksheet they've been given as writing material... the worksheet they've instinctively written their name at the top of the second they were given it. Sometimes you have to see the humour in the small things.
  13. Don't know about everyone else but I take full responsibility for all of the failings of a school I have never heard of let alone visited before. Ineffectual SLT, rude colleagues, no marking, lousy OfSTED, low staff morale, high staff turn-over, declining results, unpopular locally..... It's amazing to be so influential from just a single day's work. Who'd imagine?
    Maybe we should take responsibilty for the economic down-turn and global warming too. Why restrict our influence to such a small part of the world?
  14. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    But of course, what did you expect?
    Its obvious a Head is going to believe the word of an excluded student over that of a professionally qualified adult (or any adult for that matter). I expect many of them still believe in the tooth fairy.
  15. Along with Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny and that they still have any credibility left...
  16. Mitzka

    Mitzka New commenter

    I am from NZ and have been supply teaching in London for the past two months now. I find the behaviour here 'generally' has been absolutely disgusting! And to blame a supply is absolute ****. Yes, it doesn't help that we don't know all their names (kinda hard when your posted in 3 different classes in one day) or when, like mentioned, work is left that they've done before or an absolute bore, but there is just no excuse. As the classroom teacher (and I am now speaking from my own experience at home not just pointing fingers) it is your responsibility (after school culture/values/systems etc) to set a standard with your students that they behave for any other adult they may have in the room/school. My children at home were no angels but they knew dam well that if I had a bad report left from the reliever (supply) there would be trouble!!! And it wasn't even ever 'trouble' as such it was just a realllllly disappointed teacher which they did not like. They aimed to please because that is the environment that I had set up with them - for instance they loved to be rated out of ten for their behaviour each day and they aimed to get that ten too. Here in London I have tried allllll sortsss of management techniques, both positive and negative - names on board, games at the end, points systems, stickers, praise/reinforcement, golden time, clapping/bells/whistles - they completely IGNORE it ALL even if it what their normal teacher uses because, yes people you are right, they know they'll get away with it! What can I do to follow up a whole class full of atrocious behaviour for the last lesson of the day except to leave a note for their teacher and hope that she will let them know how disrespectful it was and disappointed in them she is...not that I think half the children here would care anyway...but that's just the impression I've got so far...
  17. It's a thankless job being a supply Teacher I have just had the most harrowing 5 weeks of my life I cannot get back staff not supporting me with difficult classes and then sending emails to oher English staff telling them not to discuss pupils behaviour with me or input any sanctions Have done everything the dept asked of me and I had become quite ppular with the students this seems to be my mistake I have realised after many years of supply teaching regular teachers feel threatened by us because often we can deal with behaviour issues better than regular teachers ..I have also realised some teachers are a clique they resent outsiders andbasically anyone new who is enthusiastic about their subject and passionate all they seem cncerned with is planning and targets and covering up their own inept abilities in order to convince heads they are doing a grand job ..it makes me sick I only do it for the students and they will always be my first priority so many screwed up teachers in my opinion they need therapy ..
  18. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    why 5 weeks? If it is that bad, move on, that is THE only advantage os working on supply
  19. Theoldscientist

    Theoldscientist New commenter

    As a result of years of supply teaching, I think I can give a reasonable viewpoint. It seems to be an unwritten rule of the classroom that supply teachers are fair game.
    In the nature of things, I tend to go into more challenging schools (more teachers off sick with stress), so the kids can be difficult. However, it is not unusal for the kids to do little or no work & behave in a very poor manner. Part of this is the poor setting of cover work & part is poor management.
    On many occassions, I need to get on-call because of poor behaviour & failure of pupils to follow the rules. Invariably, IF anyone senior turns up, the kids are quiet as mice, accept being chastised, and then continue where they left off when that person leaves the room.
    Sometimes you simply have to accept that is the way it is.
  20. casper

    casper New commenter

    When teaching full time I did dread being off sick. I would send in the best work I could. If it was planned absence for whatever reason i would provide a lesson plan and resources. Differentiated work which was named for pupils with SEN. A seating plan and SEN?Eal info. I now rarely get a seating plan. I sometimes get a lesson pan , but never get SEN /EAL info. Some of the work is just plain inadequate. Work that as been set already and completed and it is in their books. Work for use with text books, oh , but wait only one class set to share one between two and another class is using the text books this lesson. Well thanks for that!! One lesson on probability and someone considers that setting a load of questions on a sheet with no text book to help or answers given will work. Errr, no it does not work.


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