Substitute teachers visit this site from all over the world!
I always enjoy looking at the Google Analytics for the page to see where my visitors come from, so if you’re visiting the site from America, or anywhere else where supply teachers are known as ‘subs’ or substitute teachers, then welcome!
I initially wrote the content of this site with British supply teachers in mind, but looking at the analytics, I need to address some issues! Supply teachers the world over are finding information, support and resources here and I aim in the coming months to add information for you. For example, unless you are thinking of doing substitute teaching in England, then you will not find my links to supply agencies very useful. I will add agencies from the USA very soon. Have a great time looking round the site now, say hello on the forum, ‘Like’ us on Facebook, ‘Follow’ me on Twitter, and in time, I will tailor pages specifically for all you substitute teachers out there!
Much of the information for supply teachers will apply to substitute teachers as well. For instance, take a look at my top tips on learning children’s names, and you should find that the ideas cross the big pond / any other ocean as readily as a yacht.
Are you a substitute teacher? What are your experiences? I’m betting subbing (is that the right turn of phrase?!) is the same the world over!
Why choose Protocol Education?
At Protocol Education we understand the needs of Teachers, Support Staff and schools, putting every effort into matching our candidates to their ideal jobs. We work hard to ensure that our registered candidates enjoy working in the Nurseries, Primary, Secondary and Special Schools we look after. We listen to our staff and understand the importance of feedback, in order to maintain the high standards of service we offer.
We are currently looking for:
- Primary Teachers
- Secondary Teachers
- SEN Teachers
- Support Workers
- SEN Support Workers
- Nursery Staff
- Newly Qualified Teachers
Where to find us:
With branches all over England, there will most likely be a Protocol branch covering the area you would like to work. Several of our branches are in London, so if you want to work in the capital, Protocol Education is the agency to choose! We are all about keeping up contact, and are happy to help in any way we can.
What you can expect once you register with us:
- Work local to you
- Great rates of pay
- New opportunities
- Variety of work
- Friendly consultants
- Regular contact and support
Don’t just take our word for it!
To get an insight of what it’s really like to work through Protocol Education you can read our blog, where each entry is written by a Teacher or Support Worker registered with Protocol Education. From teaching resources to amusing classroom stories, you can get a real understanding of why education professionals choose Protocol Education!
It’s not just about supply!
Supply teaching can open the door to many other opportunities, as when a school gets to know you they may consider you for a long-term or permanent role in the future. As well as these opportunities, we are also recruiting experienced career professionals into permanent teaching roles. If you are currently in a permanent teaching job but are looking to move to the next step in your career, we can help to put you forward for long-term and permanent positions in the schools we look after.
So, register for supply work with Protocol Education and we’ll be in contact soon!
To find out more about working with Protocol Education, call our registration team on 020 3219 7760 or find us on Facebook and Twitter, where we share news from the company as well as education articles and stories.
Our Contact Details:
Phone 020 3219 7700
by Sharon Wood
Thinking of doing supply work through an agency? There are lots of things to consider when choosing a supply teacher agency. You want to have the confidence in them to get you work, and that, once in schools working, you will have their support, should you need it. At SupplyBag.co.uk, the essential resource for supply teachers, we are currently trying to catalogue agencies here, that offer a good level of support to their teaching staff.
Support for supply teachers is an area in which supply teaching agencies can differ enormously, just as the amount of support teachers demand of them will.
As is written elsewhere on here, you can build up a relationship with your point of contact at the agency, which can be of great benefit day-to-day. Supply teaching can be an isolating role, and it's nice to be able to call the agency to share your achievements and worries regarding the school day.
If ever you have a problem in a school, your supply teacher agency must be notified immediately. Then your teaching union. Your agency should have set, tried and tested procedures to work through in all instances, and, knowing the school and yourself, is best placed to advise you on how to proceed. Many teaching agencies, and most teaching unions provide legal support.
by Sharon Wood
SupplyBag.co.uk offers information and support to supply teachers through this website and its form. Here, we are discussing supply teacher agencies, and how important it is to receive feedback from them.
Teacher supply and recruitment agencies need to ensure a good working relationship with schools and teachers alike. They benefit greatly from referrals on both sides. Keeping lines of communication open with both schools and teachers helps to cement their relationship.
Monitoring placements is an essential part of the service agencies offer to schools and to teachers. They routinely call schools to ask for feedback following a placement, so try to make sure that the feedback about your supply work is filtered down to you.
A word of warning: Don't be surprised if the feedback isn't what you expected! Schools are extremely busy places, with some extremely busy people in them. You can walk in, spend a day doing wonderful work, and walk out again not having seen another living soul above the age of 8! You may have only met the secretary, a dinner supervisor, or a TA, new to the job; it could be a few days before the class teacher is back in the classroom and sees your diligent marking and hears the children's excited babbling about you! Is there any wonder that the feedback from an exhilarating day comes back pretty much neutral? Don't be disheartened.
by Sharon Wood
Supply teachers, whether working through supply teacher recruitment agencies, or working directly with schools, should expect early morning calls to work. Will the calls come at set times? How late will they come? Should a supply teacher call an agency and ask for work?
Be prepared to be called at any time of day or night! It is reasonable to expect calls from your agencies anytime from 6:00am asking you to work that day.
A call to work that day may come as late as 11:30am too, as teachers (slaves to the job that they are!) will often turn up for work when they really should be at home with Ibuprofen and TLC!
Times in the evenings that you will be called largely depends on your agency. Some would rather call you at 10pm, following a conversation with a school's supply teacher / cover co-ordinator and give you a few hours notice about the work the next day than wait until the morning.
An awkward one to begin with. Do you call your agency and let them know you are free today, Friday, even though on Monday morning you called them to let them know you were free all week?
Yes! Especially if they know you work through more than one agency, they will not assume status quo after a few days.
If you are unavailable for supply, do let the agency know. If you're already booked, and cannot make it, let them know as early as possible in the morning, so they can sort out someone else to teach.
More reading: Early Morning Calls – Supply Teaching by Sarah Cruickshank
What's the earliest / latest call you've had with an offer of work? Let us know in the comments below!
Some supply teachers choose to approach schools directly and ask them for supply work. Others, especially in more built-up areas, work through agencies. Indeed, many schools will only work with agency teachers, so you may not have a choice! You do have to have confidence in your supply teacher agency however. Interview them, as much as they will interview you. You wouldn’t dream of accepting a long-term position in a school you had never visited before, and similarly, you should take care when signing up to an agency.
Look for a Quality Mark ‘Supporting quality supply teaching’ awarded by the Department for Education and Skills. However, do not be put off if an agency does not hold this award, it does cost to apply for one.
Rather than feel as though you’re choosing an agency, it may feel like they are actually choosing you. You may have to go through an interview process, will certainly have to have a CRB Check done, your QTS/qualifications/List 99 and DfE number verified, filed a medical report, and had professional references followed up. This can often be quite daunting, but they are all quite straightforward, and confidential, processes.
Many agencies provide optional Pension and Holiday Savings schemes. Ask if you are interested.
Check how the agency pays. Some pay weekly, while others monthly, in arrears too.
Building a relationship
Many supply teachers find that the more they keep in touch with their agency, the more work is offered to them. It is not simply a case of your agency going through an alphabetical list of supply teachers in a morning, giving each a call until they find someone in the vicinity who is available to work. They need to maintain a good relationship with the schools, by offering quality, enthusiastic teachers… show that you are by calling. Call them to tell them you particularly enjoyed your time at Nitsville Juniors today, and, given positive feedback from the Head at Nitsville, they are more likely to match you up next time there’s work available.
Working through an agency generally means that you are responsible for your time sheets, both getting them authorised by schools, and getting them to the agency at the end of the week in order to be paid.
Tax and National Insurance contributions are deducted from your wage by your agency. If you work with more than one agency, you may have to nominate one as your main source of income for tax purposes. It is a good idea to give HM Customs and Excise a call soon after the end of the tax year and ask them to check through your tax details.
7.30am, the phone rings, do you:
- Answer within 2 rings, you’ve been up washed, suited and booted with a bag packed since 7 anyway?
- Stick your hand out of a nice, warm bed, grunt a greeting, then run around like a headless chicken getting yourself sorted?
- Put the pillow over your head and pretend the phone isn’t ringing, then feel guilty for the whole day … should you have picked it up?
- You unplugged the phone last night, so you know it won't ring?
- You made the decision not to take early morning calls, so you have nothing to worry about?
As a supply teacher, you are a business, you may have an outside agency that markets you, or you might be doing that yourself, but whether or not to take early morning calls is a business decision that you must make.
Early in my supply career, I decided that I wasn’t going to take early calls, I have a young son and a partner who works away from home, so that 7.30 call meant having to find someone to do the school runs and getting 2 people sorted. I let all my schools know that I couldn’t take early calls and they all respected that decision. Very occasionally, a school does call to ask if I could possibly go in … if I say ‘no’, they aren’t surprised, and if I say ‘yes’, they know I’m doing them a big favour and my stock rises a few points. Either way, this is a win-win situation for me and I don’t have to feel guilty about turning people down.
If you do decide to take early calls you MUST be ORGANISED, follow these tips to make the process as painless as possible:
- Let your agencies and schools know that you will take early calls (either every day, or on certain days.)
- Put your clothes out ready the night before.
- Make a packed lunch the night before, or have things that you can grab easily if a call comes.
- Have a bag packed with all your supply resources (see the article “What’s In Your Supply Bag?”)
- Have a GPS or a good street atlas, so you can find your way.
- Have a pad and pen by the phone to take down details of the school and your day.
- Get up early and be washed, suited, booted and ready to go.
- Set a time after which you’re not going to stay rooted to the spot, waiting for a call. Once that time comes, change out of your working clothes and enjoy a free day.
In the final analysis, the early morning call question is a simple yes/no one and as long as you make the decision, let every one know what it is and be consistent about your response to requests you’ll never have to feel guilty about a lie-in again!!!!
Article submitted by Sarah Cruickshank, Education Writer and Supply Teacher.
by Sharon Wood
What does a supply teacher agency do?
Supply teaching agencies provide daily, short, medium and long term/permanent staff to schools. They offer schools a flexible workforce. Agencies have in place processes which ensure they are providing schools with good quality teaching staff committed to maintaining and indeed helping to raise standards.
Supply teachers should be provided with a professional, friendly and efficient service from their agency. The agency should offer support and advice in respect to a supply teacher's continuing professional development. An agency will ensure that supply teachers have DBS Certificates and will probably charge them personally for this.
Agencies should as far as possible match the personal strengths and experience of supply teachers with the requirements of their schools. Agencies should monitor placements in order to maintain compatibility and to offer support to both the schools and the supply staff alike.
Should I start doing supply work through a supply teacher agency?
The answer to this question often depends on which area of the country you live in. Some Local Authorities have outsourced their 'supply list' to one or more supply teaching agencies, and have made it a requirement that schools recruit supply staff through these agencies. Many teachers however, have gained work going to schools or Local Authorities directly. See here for more information and advice on taking this route.
Working through an agency provides teachers with a number of benefits. In no particular order:
You are not the main point of contact for schools. This is great for if you, like I, sound grotty at 7am, it is a member of staff at the agency a supply co-ordinator will be speaking to, not you!
More frequent payment of wages. Many agencies pay weekly for the work carried out and direct into your account, as opposed to, for example, my Local Authority who pay a month in arrears. This is often invaluable with regards to the many queries that are made over time sheets, disputes over days worked should not be taking place six weeks after the event!
Support and feedback. As said earlier, agencies monitor placements, making calls to the schools regularly to ask for feedback on the staff they supplied. They will then contact you to provide a morale boost! Many agencies also offer support with aspects of your work such as professional relationship problems and continuing professional development. In the forum, Minnie wrote:
What is good about them?
They find me work.
They are friendly and chatty when I've had a great day.
They are sympathetic and listen when I've had a bad day.
They don't mind if I don't want to go back to a school.
They pass on any compliments/good reports about me they get, sometimes even phoning just to tell me.
The other side of the coin:
Some schools do not use agency staff. Of the schools you would like to work in, which of them use agencies, and can you find out which agencies they prefer to work with?
As agencies are often private limited companies, they have to make their profit from somewhere. It is often through a cut of the teacher's wage. Fair enough, they found you the work, you didn't spend another day watching Richard and Judy repeats, but be careful, rates of pay from agencies vary considerably. Some pay to scale (they charge the school above scale), but then I've heard of teachers on M6 being paid an unqualified rate.
You have to be a pest sometimes! Calling your agency frequently helps to maintain a positive working relationship with them, and helps to make sure you are in the forefront of their mind when your favourite school calls.
Less favourable quotes from the forum (to balance out Minnie's!):
They said they had enough supply to keep me working virtually full-time, and I've had 3 days this term!
They sent me to a school 45 minutes away, and when I got there, I'd been doubly booked!
I worked for £x through my agency, but had a wage from one school of considerably less. The school said that it was agreed with my agency, but it was never agreed with myself!
Click here to find a list of questions to ask any potential agency.