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How come we improve the overall quality and standard of supply staff?

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by jlock2291, Oct 15, 2018.

  1. jlock2291

    jlock2291 New commenter

    Hi all,

    If you have a spare 2 minutes I would greatly appreciate you taking the time to answer the three questions below. The school I currently work in are significantly trying the improve the standard and quality of supply staff.

    1) As a registered supply teacher, what is the biggest problems you have found when working for a supply agency?

    2) As a registered supply teacher, what are the biggest benefits you have found working for a supply agency?

    3) Is there anything you feel supply teachers could benefit from which would improve the overall experience of supply teaching?

    Many thanks

  2. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    1) As a registered supply teacher, what is the biggest problems you have found when working for a supply agency?

    No really big problems. Perhaps better communications about upcoming jobs. Mind you I don't want long term work so they don't chase me when those sorts of jobs come up.

    2) As a registered supply teacher, what are the biggest benefits you have found working for a supply agency?

    They sort out tax NI etc so I just have to turn up and do my stuff.

    3) Is there anything you feel supply teachers could benefit from which would improve the overall experience of supply teaching?

    Schools vary so much. Some are lovely places to work in and others are hell holes. I would sometimes like a little more opportunity to go off piste a bit in lessons (I have had 30 years in the classroom so I think I know what I am doing). However I can see the schools point of view that until the supply teacher arrives they don't really know what they are getting. I have had a few of the schools I have visited offer me jobs (which I don't want).
    JohnJCazorla and pepper5 like this.
  3. jlock2291

    jlock2291 New commenter

    Thank you for your response!
  4. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    1. No major problems apart from they don't offer enough CPD nor gifts at Christmas. If you ask for an
    extra £5.00 for travelling, they are reluctant to give it.

    2. The main benefit is they find the work and organise payment.

    3. A school could help supply teachers by ensuring:

    1. A staff member arrives at the first lesson within 10 minutes to ensure the supply teacher and class are settled and have all they need in terms of work, resources, etc.

    2. Ensure that seating plans are provided.

    3 Ensure that if the supply teachers need on call someone shows up.

    4. Look at the supply teacher's class lists for the day: are there any students with medical needs? On report? Panic attacks? Flag up those issues and let the teacher know in advance so they can be aware.
  5. gruoch

    gruoch Established commenter

    pepper5 likes this.
  6. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    Not a direct answer to your 3 questions...

    Your school could start with the assumption that Supply Teachers are trained and qualified. They probably have more experience than permanent school staff. They are fed up with the assumption that they are of questionable standards and quality.
  7. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    I assume the title should read "how can ...?"
    I assume you are from an agency.
    You should know these things.
    I am not prepared to assist you with building your empire.
    Agencies should not be involved in education staff procurement at all.
    BetterNow and pepper5 like this.
  8. FrauRussell

    FrauRussell New commenter

    Problem: communication, as after your initial interview it's phone, email, possibly text. No proactive follow-up on a longer booking.

    Best thing: being at arm's length from the school.

    What the school could do: be as prepared as possible, give you the info you need in a digestible form. A thick handbook with no time to read it isn't that useful, for instance.
  9. Happyregardless

    Happyregardless Occasional commenter

    1) As a registered supply teacher, what is the biggest problems you have found when working for a supply agency?

    Waiting: Work can be notoriously slow in Sept and (sometimes, like this year it seems) in early days of October, you have to curb your impatience, have lots of interesting hobbies/not go stir crazy in the interim/financially juggle - a lot.
    You soon learn who is your 'main agency' and loyalty usually cuts both way up to a level, as long as you realise you are a 'commodity' to any agency as an individual and getting older every day (shouldn't matter, in fact illegal now but it does)
    Registering versus Working: Many agencies seem to have fabulous adverts on internet job sites, but then you learn these are general ones that they churn out to get people to sign up to them. Many agencies perhaps get some sort of incentive to merely register people, or could simply be peer competitiveness in recrutiment consultants? Either way out of the, say, 4 agencies you sign up with, one will be who you end up with work from, one will get you a few days at first and then peter off and the remaining two will just register you and you wont hear from them again.

    Paying according to experience/scale: yes, if you get a good agency they will pay you, THEIR higher rate, but it doesnt really go up after time as if would if you went through performance management on permanent contract - but hey take a look at 'workplace dilemmas' on here and how many brilliant, dedicated teachers that set up has messed up?!

    2) As a registered supply teacher, what are the biggest benefits you have found working for a supply agency?

    Flexibility - work when you want - if you need days/time off for family or other committments.
    Variety - it's refreshing teaching different cohorts, ages and by doing so you develop considerable practical teaching experience, that perhaps you would not, teaching the same or similar classes/age ranges in the same school year after year.
    Choice: If you want a challenge go teach that unruly mob at 'School X', knowing you can leave it behind when you are done with your days/hours/time there.
    Compartmentalism/Work/Life Balance: enjoy your teaching, develop professional experience but have a cut off where youcan return home and enjoy your home and social life!
    wellbeing: refuse for your life to be character assassinated by the current machine-regime that is UK teaching - teach for the love of it, retaining your sanity and vigour, rather than being bought and sold by a corrupt system.

    3) Is there anything you feel supply teachers could benefit from which would improve the overall experience of supply teaching?
    I would like more affordable or free CPD - just because we on supply doesn't mean we don't stop growing our skills base, as professional each individual is responsible for this, which means many supply teachers, update research and skills at home through internet or through personal cost. it shouldn't cost us personally - if schools are paying for permanent teaching staff to develop CPD, then agencies should consider similar for their supply staff.

    Consider the travelling distance for teachers
    - yes we are adaptable, but, why work for a school miles away if you will use up all your wages in petrol to commute there in the first place?
  10. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Star commenter

    pepper5 likes this.
  11. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Star commenter

    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  12. unicorn720

    unicorn720 New commenter

    1) As a registered supply teacher, what is the biggest problems you have found when working for a supply agency?

    During September to December finding a balance between holding out for supply work or taking zero hours work with my second job. I'd rather they were honest and told me that it's not looking busy this week so I can plan my own thing around that.

    When one agency tries to convince you to jump ship while you are in the middle of a placement. I don't know many people who would bite the hand that feeds them so I don't get why they ask.

    2) As a registered supply teacher, what are the biggest benefits you have found working for a supply agency?

    When work is good then I like having 1-2 days off a week.

    3) Is there anything you feel supply teachers could benefit from which would improve the overall experience of supply teaching?

    Knowing your rights as a supply teacher in terms of free's etc... If I'm on a long ish term placement where they expect me to plan my lessons and I am getting used in my free periods to cover other lessons then I take it upon myself to reduce my work load in other ways to compensate. I can either mark the books in my free's on cover other subjects but I can't do both.
  13. BetterNow

    BetterNow Occasional commenter

    Are you sure you have it the right way round (acknowledging the fact that no one is perfect - supply or permanent)?

    What about considering the fact that supply teachers are often treated so badly by schools and by agencies that they just don’t want to give their all.

    No sick pay, no holiday pay. No pay from July until September -or October... or November...No job security. UPS supply teachers being paid less than NQTs. Schools who don’t even bother to learn your name. Why would you put heart and soul into something when you could be dumped the next day by the school or agency?*

    You know that agencies want to pay you as little as possible, while they are charging the school as much as possible. You are nothing more than a commodity.

    Read these and and take on board what’s said, then think whether you need to reconsider the question:





    *NB In spite of this, I love supply teaching.
  14. historygrump

    historygrump Star commenter Forum guide

    1) The agencies main interest is the money and will be quite happy to send you into schools which are unsafe in terms of behaviour. They also try to reduce the income they pay with many excuses, to maximise the profit margin. They also lie and are totally deceitful at times, they advertise jobs that don't exist for example.

    2) You can work, when you want and sometimes can take a day off to do something else. In addition I would say going to different schools, improves your skills and abilities to deal with students who vary in their behaviour from being nice to extremely nasty, the experiences of working in different schools can make you a better and more able teacher, in that you have experienced different types of classes.

    3) I would say the way we treated by schools and permanent teachers, this experience can be depressing at times and in some schools it can be a positive experience, it depends on the ethos of the school, attitude of the staff and senior management. If the teachers in permanent posts where encouraged to spend a few weeks on supply, they might appreciate supply staff more and the difficult role they have to perform, because e have to have wide knowledge, they ability to adopt different management techniques and learn the different systems in dealing with behaviour and rewarding good work.

    I would also say more professional CPD courses and a lot cheaper, in the ones provided are costly and in truth poor, and it is the same with the union CPD courses. In that I think the ATL can charge up to £40 for a professional courses, they are also provide free courses at the local level, but many are miles away and so are difficult to attend. The unions should provide cheaper CPD courses, and at local level in the evening, in that many supply teachers cannot afford to have a day off in many cases, unlike permanent staff who paid if they attend a course.

    Finally I would say the support of the unions, they talk about supporting supply teachers, especially close to elections, they suddenly drop the support. For example they demanded the end of cover supervisors on the basis that every class should be taught by a qualified teacher, yet the demand as died away and we are back to to being ignored by the unions. It would be nice for every union to ask at least to supply staff to attend their annual conferences.
  15. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    I won't bother answering your questions as the posters above have already beaten me to it. Especially those posts that believe Agencies are blood-sucking parasites.

    So why not employ these direct which would answer most of the problems listed above? I'm sure that your HR could handle it and there's even the benefit of it being cheaper to pay a teacher a reasonable wage.

    Of course the main benefit to schools of agencies is cheaper and no need to concern yourself with any dodgy working practices. Both of which the school can wash its hands of. If that is the reason this survey is skewed towards agency employees then I'm sorry I even posted.
    agathamorse, BetterNow and pepper5 like this.
  16. rustyfeathers

    rustyfeathers Occasional commenter

    I'm assuming you are a school looking at hiring your supply directly instead of via an agency. So, to be blunt:

    You mention trying to improve the quality of supply in the school -- have you checked (genuinely, properly -- not from teachers who've never ever done supply, and not from supply who need to not rock the boat, but via robust checks yourself and via your non-returning supply) that they are ABLE to do a decent job?

    Schools treat supply as disposable. I've been treated dreadfully by schools who agree to certain terms, then find a cheaper way to cover, cancel with no notice -- and then expect the same supply (me, hi) to pick up the pieces when it turns out that maybe going for cheap and unqualified WASN'T the best route.

    An agency allows me to distance myself from that, set someone else to work finding me decent schools, and refusing to work for schools that treat me -- and other supply -- like dirt.

    Another bugbear: poor organisation. No registers, no means of properly summoning help, a god awful map of the school, locked doors and no one around to unlock, "they know what they're doing".

    And forgetting supply teachers are human beings, who do things like eating lunch and going to the loo.

    But I hit lucky with my agency, who were actually decent. Many, IME, aren't, so if you can ensure you treat your supply well, you may be onto a winner.
  17. supply287

    supply287 New commenter

  18. captain scarlet

    captain scarlet Established commenter

  19. supply287

    supply287 New commenter

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