What you need to prepare for your first supply teacher role

When it comes to starting a new placement, or even if you’re making the move into supply teaching, there are plenty of things that you need to remember before your first day.


That’s why this month we wanted to explore some of the technical aspects of your first supply teaching role, along with some items that you can take with you on your first day to make your role run more smoothly.


Find out about any Supply Teacher files


In many schools and nurseries, there will be a file that’s bought out for supply teachers. These files contain the key information that the candidate will need on school procedures, key points of contact, Fire Alarm procedures and Health and Safety guidelines.


If the school or nursery doesn’t have a file like this, then it’s important that you make contact before your first day to ask several key questions. These can include:


  • Processes for behaviour management
  • Rewards and sanctions use for positive behaviour strategies
  • Your key point of contact during your placement
  • Any Safeguarding procedures that are in place
  • Any specific medical requirements that pupils may have
  • Any specific pupils that may need additional support


If you’re being placed through an agency, then it’s also worth checking with your support team for any additional advice based on their past experiences with the school or nursery.


Legislation and policies


In order to prepare for any supply teaching placement, there are several key pieces of legislation that you should familiarise yourself with.


The Keeping Children Safe in Education Part 1 is an essential guide for all supply teachers. This forms the basis for all safeguarding legislation currently in place, and it’s an area that’s regularly updated and amended.


Each school or nursery will have their own Safeguarding policy in place, which sets out the procedures and guidelines for their establishment. Make sure you ask about this before your placement, as it may answer any specific questions you may have.


Other policies that it would be worth reading before starting a longer placement at a school or nursery can include:


  • Prevent Strategies for anti-extremism and anti-terrorism
  • School/nursery-specific behaviour and anti-bullying policies
  • Marking and homework setting guidelines
  • Assessments and staff handbooks


Learn about specific routines


Learning the structure of the day is especially important, as it will have an impact on how the rest of the day will go. If a pupil sees that their routine is being adhered to, then they will subconsciously understand that the supply teacher is in control, even if someone unfamiliar.


These routines could include:

  • Registration before lessons
  • Lunch breaks and playground time
  • End of the day routines
  • Study time or quiet reading sessions


If you’re unsure, then make a point of finding out from a teacher who’s currently teaching a class size, or year group, similar to yours. They’ll be able to explain what happens throughout the day, along with giving advice on maintaining control over unruly pupils.


Maintain a good relationship with other staff


Whenever you’re on placement in a new school or nursery, then it pays to make sure you’re friendly with the existing staff. Showing a happy face makes a good first impression and also means that people are more likely to help you if you have any problems throughout the day.


Additional advice


  • Find out where the school is if you’re unfamiliar with the area, then consider doing a trial journey before your first day
  • Set multiple alarms and get your bags ready the night before
  • Save the school or nursery’s number in your phone, you can’t predict bad traffic so make sure you can contact them if you’re delayed
  • Take a coat and a healthy snack, you might be asked to do playground duty and it’s sometimes frowned on to eat sugary treats in front of all the pupils
  • Pack your own mugs and tea bags, sometimes school or nursery staff have their own mugs, so make sure you’re not messing with their normal routine
  • Arrive early so you can get to grips with the school or nursery’s layout, you don’t want to get lost throughout the day



So there we have it, our top ways that you can prepare for your first supply teaching role. Regardless of whether you’re applying for a SEN, primary or secondary school placement, as long as you’re prepared your time with the students should run as smoothly as you could hope.


Remember, if you need any specific advice about anything you’ve read in this article, then we’re here to help. Make sure you get in touch with a member of our team today, especially if you’ve applied for one of the roles advertised on our job board.

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