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My Horrible Day

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by pepper5, Nov 24, 2015.

  1. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    Thanks for your encouragement. I'm not sure what is going to happen in the future for memregards my work since I am 55 and I don't know even if I will be able to find anything. One solution is to work just three days per week and be picky about what I take on and where I go in connection with schools. Already, I won't go to the very worst schools in the area.


    Try to find good schools to work at and contact them directly instead of using agencies if you can. Hone up on your beha iour management; even in the very best schools, there are instances of extreme behaviour coupled with large classes. Try to go to schools where the school supports you in terms of behaviour and the quality of the work set.

    Supply can be very rewarding when all the systems in a school are in place, but it can also be very difficult mainlynsince you are working with the unknown in terms of not knowing the lesson in advance, then background of students, or where things are kept. A lot of the time, younare depending on people to help like leaving seating plans, where the booksnare kept, even something simple like having lined paper in the room.

    All this of course is off set by not having marking to do, no planning, and if you can't face Macy one more time, then you can decide to pass a booking up.
    indusant and lanokia like this.
  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    I recently met a teacher whom has worked on supply for 25 years!
    lanokia likes this.
  3. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    Has anyone every had those awkward days when a class tells you that you're better than their usual teacher?

    I've taught a few very difficult groups recently but once we managed to get them settled down and on task, it was clear that part of the problem was that they weren't being taught well by their usual teacher.

    I'm loathe to criticise a teacher because obviously I understand the pressure. However, on occasion occasion it seems that students have had a point about their teacher.

    Back on topic, I had a group in a school that is widely considered the best school in my area. My agency warned me that this school will only pay a lower rate of £110 as opposed to my usual £140but I agreed to go because it's very reputable and seemed a good school to be known at. Well, a class I taught in the afternoon was nothing short of feral. Not 2 minutes into the lesson and one kid was climbing over furniture. They screamed and bickered at each other and were generally wild. One pupils was ready to punch another so I sent him out to calm down where he deliberately trapped his own finger in the classroom door.

    And again, the work set was terrible. Year 8 English, create your own monster and draw it (tenuous link to Dracula).

    I'm move red Maths that day too...no answers left, no instructions, just worksheets which the kids didn't know how to do. The Maths looked nothing like I remembered from school; they had to set out equations as a flowchart for no discernible reason. I imagine that if I hadn't been able to use my common sense and adapt it, the behaviour would have spiralled.
  4. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    I am so sorry you also had a horrible day. Thank you for posting since it makes me realise that I am not alone and I am not losing my mind. I hope you are o.k.

    The day you describe is becoming far more common for me and that is why I am wondering how long I can keep going.

    It would be so simple, if schools had a monitoring policy where delegated persons goes to all the classes where there is a supply teacher and checks in on them within the first 10 minutes to see if the class is settled and the teacher has all the answers, books, equipment that they need. Generally, I will know within 5 minutes whether I am going to have trouble. If someone came by to check then some of the issues could be resolved.

    I have taught thousands of students over six years in many schools including a PRU and have settled disruptive classes, encouraged the kids on report, and stepped in to disarm fights. However, I am one lone supply teacher and the heads of schools need to put systems in place to help the teachers who visit their schools as teachers. I get £130 per day but the head teachers make up to £189,000 per year in some academies. Surely for that kind of money, they could think of some system to help teachers not being put into the position that they are isolated working alone in schools.
  5. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Just off to a late booking...am going in with a positive attitude and have decided to be firmer and send students out quicker if I have to after using my scripts. The regular teachers don't hesitate to send the students out so why should I? I'm hoping I don't have a class like Eva described which sounds bad, but you never know.....will report later and I am trusting I will have a brilliant day instead of a horrible day.

    I should have been an actress.
  6. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    Back from school and pleased to report no drama. No one misbehaved the entire day and I haven't had any disruptive students at all. It was all just regular students working hard and they were a pleasure to be with. What a relief.
  7. bonnie1

    bonnie1 Senior commenter

    Yay. and if you have another bad day, remember this one and the ones like it and know you are a good teacher.
    pepper5 likes this.
  8. emmalcm1

    emmalcm1 Established commenter

    Seems like a bit of a bad week for me this week! Monday and Tuesday were stressful and today I had the joys of 2 bratty children screaming and swearing in my face because...it was highly unreasonable of me to give them a detention for ignoring instructions, running around the room hitting each other, swearing at each other etc. One of them I actually know quite well due to previous work at the school, yet they still felt the need to shout 'you can't give us a detention you're not even a real teacher'. I called for SLT to deal with them but someone came and just said oh yeah just follow procedure put an hour's detention on sims...erm very helpful...especially considering I had the same class for a different subject the next lesson!
  9. bonnie1

    bonnie1 Senior commenter

    Where do you posters teach to encounter such behaviours?
  10. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi bonnie

    Most places in the UK will have some schools where you will find the behaviours described. Eva went to a school with a good reputation and found challenging behaviour she described as 'feral'. I have seen the same in six years at various schools and it ismfar more common than people may think. There is a book called On the Edge written by Charlie Carroll that is an account of his experiences of working as a supply teacher in the UK. See if you can borrow a copy from the library. It is a very interesting true account of the state of schools in the UK.
    emmalcm1 likes this.
  11. bonnie1

    bonnie1 Senior commenter

    Sadly, I've taught in many classes with badly behaved children.Primary, not Secondary, I don't think I could teach that age group. I recall Cameron in one of the Town Hall debates when he said he would tackle 'bad behaviour' if he was elected, I haven't seen any evidence of this.
  12. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    I'm seriously impressed that anyone could be a supply teacher for 20+ years.

    Imagine having a career by not having a career.

    Poor behaviour in schools is generally down to a poor ethos and inadequate sanctions caused in turn by poor management.
  13. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    In the area I live in there are three secondary schools in special measures affecting around 2500 plus students and challenging behaviour is an issue in all of them. They are all academies and over the course of several years they have had various heads come and go all making staggering amounts of money in the process. At one of the schools the principal of the school has other roles within the academy trust and earns over150,000 per year. Yet, no one can solve the behaviour issues. Millions have been spent on buildings and salaries for these academies but the schools are still failing and a lot of it is down to poor behaviour.

    It makes me angry as a tax payer to see all this money wasted.
  14. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    I've seen that model of "superheads" in action before, it never works. A culture of poor behaviour can only be eradicated by a management team and staff working closely together. It takes at least a year and maybe two to put right.

    It's not an easy problem to solve. I know of one school that has never solved it - it's as bad now as it was 10 years ago.
  15. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    It takes resolve to solve the poor behaviour in schools and for those in authority to challenge it. As I go to schools, I see students who think they are in charge. As a supply teacher, it is difficult to go onto groups and take charge if the students are not used to following instructions or respecting adults. Yet the management expect strangers to roll up to their schools and maintain order and if the teacher can't then it's the teacher who is seen as lacking. Most of the secondary schools around here apart from two have serious issues with challenging behaviour. However, the heads like I said above get staggering wages. A couple of years ago, I was in one school and saw the Head in the corridor and told him I had had a very tough day. His reply? Tell the agency! At the time I thought it a strange reply, it I had not been working in schools for long, so I just shrugged it off. Obviously now looking back, he was telling me that he didn't care. He is no longer the head and who knows what scam he is up to at some other school.

    Off to a booking tomorrow and am praying for classes of just regular kids who want to learn.
    lanokia and emmalcm1 like this.
  16. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I should add that the school I mentioned with the 'feral' children is a 3 time 'outstanding' school according to Ofsted. The cover work set was sloppy at best. I taught in a make-shift classroom with no technology at all. On arrival, didn't receive any form of information re:behaviour policy, evacuation procedures etc.

    Today I just he an afternoon at the school I went to as a pupil. Behaviour isn't good in that place at all but it was wi day today so that goes some way to explaining it...

    Am booked out for full days on Thurs and Friday so that's good, making it 3.5days this week.

    As for quality of schools, in the Teeaside area there are many schools serving very under privileged children. Most schools as a 3 at best with one big academy chain recently being awarded a 2 despite everyone knowing there's no way it's really that good.l!!
  17. historygrump

    historygrump Lead commenter Forum guide

    Supply teaching is basic a lucky dip, in that no matter your experience, you can get schools and classes that are more like gladiator arena's then places of learning and then you get schools that are some perfect you suspect that you wonder if the kids have been sedated. I agree that the school ethos is key and when a HT says 'tell the agency', it shows a HT that is setting the wrong example to the kids, a good HT would be someone who is embarrassed that their students acted in such a way in front of a visitor, because it looks bad on the school and them, so for a HT to say 'tell the agency' says a lot about the ethos and management of that school. It is the same with the work, some schools and teachers set good well though out work and others cannot be bothered, as if the supply teacher lacks the ability to teach or I suspect in some cases that they are scared that the supply teacher is seen as a better then them. I have had like many other supply teachers student's asking can you become our permanent teacher because you are better then their normal teacher.

    We have all been to poor schools, but there is one school (which I have avoided) that I know off, who in their last two Ofsted inspections managed to get grade 4 in all but 1 category and in that category they got a grade 3. I still remember the agency last year trying to con me into going to the school,saying it is a good school, unfortunately for the agency, the reputation of the school went before it.
    indusant and emmalcm1 like this.
  18. emmalcm1

    emmalcm1 Established commenter

    Definitely! The school I was referring to is an academy and has a 'superhead'.

    I'm sure I've mentioned it on here somewhere before but there is one school that I refused to ever go back to. It involved wild children who would not sit on a chair and were running around swearing, hitting each other, etc, no matter what I did or said. It was my first day in the place and they had put me in an isolated part of the school with no staff anywhere near. I had tried to get assistance with no avail. The deputy head walked past and instead of telling them to behave, just stood in front of them and shouting at ME! I mean what did she want me to do, physically force them to sit on a seat?! She rang and complained to the agency, who were fine with it when I explained what happened. They did however pass on a message from the school that they wanted me to not mention it to anyone because they were having trouble getting supply staff in!!! Well if your kids are that terribly behaved, you won't do anything about it and are grossly unprofessional, that's why!
    pepper5 likes this.
  19. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    For me the attitude of the staff outweighs the behaviour of the children. I know children can misbehave and will play up for Supply. I can make allowances for that. If I am belittled by an adult I feel there are no excuses. I behave professionally and resolve never to darken their door again. Though, to be fair, those schools don't seem to ask me back. (Often I have 20 minutes notice to do an hours drive and then get it in the neck for being late).

    Off to invigilation (joy). Son's school - not agency...
    emmalcm1 likes this.
  20. indusant

    indusant Senior commenter

    I agree whole heartedly. Schools with a certain 'ethos' make all the difference, behaviour wise. It all has to start from the top (management). The most pleasant school I worked in had this - the kids were clearly taught to be responsible and to be mindful of their own behaviour. Expectations were high and pupils had some pride in the school. There was also a sense of 'togetherness' amongst staff, and SLT made their presence known by walking the corridors, chatting to kids etc. This did not turn the kids in to robots - they just knew where the boundaries were. They knew that they were responsible for their own behaviour, and that if they misbehaved they knew what the consequences were.

    On the other hand, another school close to this one was the complete opposite. Kids would misbehave, swear, be aggressive etc. SLT were no where to be seen. I felt like I needed a body gaurd with me in lessons (even though I'm a bloke over 6ft tall who does martial arts!). I would not go back there. It's certainly an eye opener that two schools could be so close together, yet have a totally different atmosphere and working ethos.

    I've also been to other 'outstanding' schools where behaviour hasn't been great, as the kids are clearly in charge. Some schools want to maintain their status as 'Good' or oversubscribed so they bow to the kids to keep them and their parents happy. They may maintain this reputation, but it encourages the kids to be self entitled. When you have 30 of them all thinking of themselves and not working together it can easily lead to behaviour issues and makes the job of a supply teacher even more difficult. The Head Teacher was full of the right jargon, but rarely seen around the school tackling real issues.

    There is no easy answer, of course, but it has to begin at the top. In the first school I described, it was obvious that the ethos has been built slowly over many years. Progress was probably slow, but ultimately worth it as it fostered an ethos of responsibility. This school was also 'Outstanding' but clearly as a result of the atmosphere already in place. Some schools want to maintain the label of 'Good' or 'Outstanding' as an end in itself, and are reluctant to admit that bad behaviour is a reality. In rarer cases the label is a by product of the values that are encouraged on a wider scale, over a longer period of time.

    Others ignore the problem altogether. Unfortunately, it is clear that a lot of those in management do not want to invest the valuable time to create a genuine working ethos. They go for a quick fix instead. However, these quick fixes can often make the situation worse in the long run. From my experience, it is clear that the school's ethos hinges greatly on how the SLT conduct themselves.
    emmalcm1 likes this.

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