In 2010 I moved to the UK on a two year working visa from Australia. My previous teaching experience was a one-year contract as a Primary PE Teacher in country Australia. Supply teaching in London proved to be a very challenging experience, the skills and teaching strategies I adopted in this 6-month period have had a huge impact on the teacher I am today.
When I first started out I had one hard copy book of icebreaker and team building activities, which we had created as a year group in my second year of university. I soon realised that this was not enough to engage students as a supply teacher. I progressed to a large folder of ready-to-go activities for multiple age/year and ability levels. I will explain this more later. Here is a link to download a resource that I have designed for supply teachers. This link is FREE for thesupplyteacher.com readers. All these activities and more are inside my teaching apps stated below.
I have learnt to gain control of your class as a supply teacher you first have to gain the respect and trust of the students. I would start the lesson with 3 or 4 icebreakers and team building games. I found that once I did this, the students would relax, and treat me with respect.
Creating apps came about after supply teaching in London in 2010 for 6 months. Continuing on from the question above, I had so many amazing resources all on different sheets of paper in this one folder. Fellow teachers were always asking for ideas and games that I had created; so I thought instead of carrying this large unorganised folder around, why not create a teaching app with everything a supply teacher needs. Over the next two years I continued to create new activities, resources and games. ClassBreak was released at the end of 2012. I now have 35 apps, 28 for IOS (apple) and 7 for Android.
ClassBreak – This is by far my best app, a must have for all supply teachers. ClassBreak has over 250 different activities and lesson ideas designed specifically to assist supply teachers in day-to-day teaching.
BrainBreak – Getting students active and using their brains is such a powerful tool. Inside this app you will find nine different categories with over 180 activities and brain activation exercises.
Teacher Shake – This is such a fun simple app split into two different sections: activities to start your lesson; debrief and reflection ideas to finish lessons. Students love the function, simply shake your device a 5 to 10 minute activity will appear that does not require any equipment.
LiteracyBreak – As the name suggests, this app has over 60 different literacy games that teachers can use to improve literacy skills.
MathBreak – Like LiteracyBreak, this app is designed to engage students to improve their numeracy skill level.
The only difference I see from contracted to supply teachers in apps is the data and evidence of work collecting apps. I believe all lessons should start with a 5 to 10 minute activity/game to get students active, engaged and thinking. Supply teaching is undoubtedly a challenging experience... coming into a situation where you do not know the students and often the students view the lesson as a “day off”. Students enjoy learning through games and activities; apps are a great way to provide these resources for supply teachers on the spot.
This is extremely exciting; the future for technology is endless. Some gadgets that excite me for example are: the new apple watch, fitbits and all the amazing apps for learning that are currently on the market. The introduction of iPads in the classroom brings education to life, interactive technology makes learning more engaging and memorable.
Been a passionate Australian who loves cricket, I would have to say Shane Warne. I have a couple of reasons for this. Firstly he is one of the best cricketers to ever play the game which would give him instant respect with students. Secondly he loves a joke and a laugh, this is a must for all supply teachers, as students want to have fun with you and see that you are human. Last Warnie is always happy, energetic and warm, qualities I believe to be the basis of a supply teacher. On a side note try to think of his positive characteristics, not all stories reported via the media are true.
I was delighted to be able to interview Phil Tierney. As Director of Arrive Homes, he provides supply teachers with quite a unique service: a home!
In no more than 20 words, what does Arrive Homes offer supply teachers?
We offer very good value rooms in shared house accommodation for teachers and professionals in London.
What service do you provide to supply teachers?
We offer fully inclusive rent that covers gas, electric, water, council tax, TV licence and internet. Basically, all the things you would have to pay for on top of rent are covered. We offer flexible, length of occupancy therefore if your circumstances change you can move with the minimum of fuss. All of our London properties are close to the tube and/or mainline stations - maximum of 10 minute walk making it ideal for supply teaching. Most schools can be reached easily. Also, there is a high probability that other supply teachers will be living with you and therefore you can share the day's trials and tribulations and become part of an unofficial support network! Our homes are designed for a teacher relocating to London to go straight in and feel at home. They can be quite sociable but at the same time, appreciate others may have work to do in the evening on occasions!
If a teacher wanted to move to London, and they gave you a call, what would the next steps be?
Debbie in the Arrive Homes office is happy to help anyone calling. We would listen to the enquiry and offer help. Typically, the person calling would state when they are looking to move and may have a rough idea of whereabouts in the city they would like to be. We can then match these requirements to our room availability and present the best options. All enquiries are added to our database and contacted should anything become available. Much communication occurs via email. We advertise our available rooms on our website and promote via Facebook and Twitter too. We give the option of pre-booking accommodation before arrival. Many people love this as it ensures they have somewhere decent when they arrive. This can remove a lot of stress and get settled in quicker. Plus having a permanent address, means you can start supply teaching quicker and set up things like bank accounts. Those pre-booking are asked to send a deposit to reserve the room and sign the license agreement. Therefore they can arrive with peace of mind knowing a room is secure and in turn, we know they are committed.
I know you are a registered supply teacher too Phil, how often do you like to get out of the office and back into schools? Is it to 'keep your hand in' or simply for pleasure?
I do enjoy teaching. I began supply teaching when I left a full time teaching position in East London in 2011 so I could focus on Arrive Homes. Our business was going from strength to strength so it became too difficult to teach full time. I liked the flexibility that supply teaching provides. I supplied at a local college in the London Borough of Havering and realising the benefit to both parties, I became a part time teacher of Business Studies in 2013 committing to one day per week. I guess it is to 'keep my hand in' but more often than not it is pleasurable. When time allows I do carry out some day to day supply work and am registered with a few agencies in Essex and London.
Many of your clients are from overseas I believe. How do you support them when settling in?
By signing up to a home with us, an occupant inherits a ready made social life! Other house mates are in similar situations - relocating to London and invariably not knowing anybody which can be daunting! On arrival, our tenants are greeted by a member of the Arrive Homes team who will go through with them in detail information such as; how certain appliances work in the house, explain where the local grocery stores are, give information on local schools and how to set up bank accounts and give advice with any administrative duties that need carrying out. Our Facebook page presents many social opportunities and we are working in collaboration with social media groups such as Britbound, Kiwis in London and Aussies in London to name a few!
What are the pros and cons of sharing a house with another professional?
I think the pros are that one would be living with other liked minded people in a similar position to them. All bills are included so disputes are minimised (i.e who owes money for various bills!), similar working hours so the 'fit' among housemates is better. Above all, it is a much cheaper and cost effective way to live in London, living on your own is rather pricey indeed! In terms of downsides, the obvious is that you may live with people you do not click with. We are humans and this will inevitably happen in some cases. We offer alternative accommodation subject to availability in this instance. Also, maybe waiting to use the bathroom in the morning might be an issue. With this in mind, all of our properties have 2 bathrooms if there are 5 tenants or more. Overall, we believe strongly the pros outweigh the cons!
And finally! Who would be the ultimate supply teacher?
The ultimate supply teacher. Good question! After much deliberation I would say Boris Johnson the current Mayor of London. His presence alone is enough to make me feel better about things - he brings a smile to my face. He would engage the students and in his very unique way have a strong command of the classroom. Go Boris!
A compliant and tax efficient solution allowing supply teachers to vastly increase their weekly NET pay.
The Liquidity Group umbrella scheme allows supply teachers to claim work-related expenses against their wage, reducing tax and National Insurance deductions and therefore boosting take home pay. We currently payroll in excess of 5000 contractors per week, each having the protection of our Tax Enquiry Insurance and Indemnity Covers. The Liquidity Group online portal allows supply teachers to securely access historical payslips, submit expenses and download necessary HMRC documents. With a combined experience of over 50 years within the accounting industry we have the knowledge and expertise to manage incomes of any level on a bespoke basis.
The Liquidity Group process payroll for a vast array of businesses, from independently owned startups to nationwide, multi-branch high street companies. The chances are we are already dealing with the agency you are utilising, but if not we act on your behalf to set up your agency and commence payroll in less than a week. Furthermore, a supply teacher can conduct work for a multitude of different agencies and use Liquidity Group to consolidate their separate lines of income into one payment, on one payslip, taking only one fee.
There is no registration fee, no exit fee and no contractual period. The registration process is extremely simple, hassle free and new starters are contacted with a service call and issued a welcome pack within 24 hours of an enquiry being received.
We offer support and guidance throughout their stay. Each client has their own designated account manager who is experienced and dedicated to maintaining high standards and efficient processing. The account manager is available for face-to-face meetings and is contactable via their personal mobile phone number and direct email address.
A large percentage of the supply teachers currently utilising Liquidity Group schemes are long standing clients and have built strong working relationships with their account manager and have found that this ongoing support offers them comfort in what can be an often isolating job role.
It's been said that our tax-efficient solutions are a lot easier going than the homework they dish out!
Interviewee Angela Moro, Employee Care Team Leader at My Key Pay, talks to us about their umbrella service, Key Portfolio.
What can Key Portfolio offer supply teachers?
The security and comfort of permanent employment, with all of the freedom of supply work. The best of both worlds!
Often supply teachers are unaware of how umbrella companies operate! could you fully explain the service you provide to supply teachers?
Put simply, an Umbrella Company employs people who work on temporary assignments, like supply teachers. So while enjoying the freedom and flexibility that this type of work gives, you can also enjoy the stability and safety net that comes with permanent employment. The Umbrella Company pays you for the assignments that your agency finds for you and gives you a range of employment-related benefits that you wouldn’t ordinarily have access to. So, it means you get full statutory benefits like sick pay and maternity or paternity pay. And you’ll find it easier to prove your income when you need to, for example if you apply for a mortgage. You can also claim work-related expenses, such as the money you spend on food, drink and travel during your working day. Quite often we find that supply teachers can be registered with three, four, five different agencies, sometimes doing one or two days a week for each. Joining Key Portfolio means that your pay for all of your assignments through these agencies is centralised. This saves you time and money because you’ll only have one pay day, one payslip, one tax code and one point of contact. To sum it all up, we level the playing field between supply work and permanent employment.
If a supply teacher is registered with Agency X, do they have to go with Umbrella Company Z, or could they choose Key Portfolio? How do the logistics work?
Agencies usually have a list of their preferred Umbrella Companies, and with Key Portfolio being the largest employer of supply teachers in the UK, the likelihood is that we’ll already be on the list. But if we’re not, you can still let your agency know if you’d prefer to work with us. What’s also good to remember is that no matter how many agencies you’re registered with, you only need one Umbrella Company. Key Portfolio can handle payroll from all your agencies, and all you have to do is let us know who they are.
Should supply teachers choose the umbrella company with the lowest fees?
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing an Umbrella Company, and their margin is just one of them. It’s the same as anything in life – you want to get the best value for your money, and that applies just as much when choosing the right Umbrella Company as it does when buying a new car. There are other factors to consider – reliability, safety, support – and in speaking to our teachers on a daily basis I find that those are commonly the most important concerns they have. “Am I going to get paid on time? Is it going to be correct?” If you were to ask me which one thing supply teachers are looking for above all others, it’s peace of mind. And peace of mind is what we specialise in.
Could you tell me a little about the potential items a supply teacher could claim tax back on?
Well, you can claim tax back on your travel costs – whether that’s by bus, car or bicycle. This is a big help to supply teachers as travelling to lots of different schools can become expensive. And you can claim any meals and snacks you have to buy during the day as well. Our supply teachers love this because they often go out to work at very short notice – it’s not unlikely that they get a call on a Monday morning to start a new post that day – which doesn’t leave them much time to prepare a packed lunch! You can also claim things like stationery, textbooks, subscriptions to teaching resource sites – anything that you need to do your job, really. We’ve approved claims on all sorts of weird and wacky expenses from frozen rats to badminton sets! So long as they’re solely for use within the job, the chances are good that we can process them. It’s really easy to submit your expenses with us – simply fill in our online form, take a couple of quick snapshots of your receipts, and you’ll see your claim on the following week’s payslip.
How do you support supply teachers professionally throughout their time with Key Portfolio?
When you start supply work, there are lots of things you might suddenly find yourself having to deal with that are nothing to do with teaching. Like, for example, making sure you’re paying the correct tax, keeping track of payments from different assignments and getting your head around the Agency Workers Regulations. Luckily, we’re experts in that side of things! When you join Key Portfolio, we take care of it all. Our goal is to support, advise and guide you through your supply career, so you can concentrate on teaching. We’ve been supporting supply teachers for over a decade now, which I believe gives us a unique understanding of their needs and expectations. I’m actually a trained teacher myself, which makes it even easier for me to empathise! My team are here to offer you in-depth, specialised assistance on everything from HR to payroll to training courses to tax queries. Whether you need proof of income or help with maternity pay, we’re just a phone call away. In essence, we want your supply career to run smoothly, and we do everything we can to make that happen.
Supply teaching can be quite an isolating career. How do you help supply teachers feel that they are part of something bigger at Key Portfolio?
I mentioned before that when you join Key Portfolio, we become your employer – and that means a lot more than just taking care of your payroll. With Key Portfolio, you have thousands of colleagues. You’re part of the largest community of supply teachers in the UK, where each and every teacher can depend upon a service that’s truly dedicated to supporting them throughout their contracting career. We’re actually working right now to build even greater connections between our teachers. Watch this space!
And finally! Who would be the ultimate supply teacher?
This is a tough one, because not everyone can combine the level of dedication and commitment with the sheer skill it takes to be a supply teacher. That’s why my dream supply teacher would have to be Maya Angelou, the Pulitzer Prize-nominated author and poet, for a few reasons. One is that she was one of the sharpest, smartest ladies who ever lived, which is a good trait to have when teaching children. The second is that she actually was a teacher! She taught on and off for thirty years in half a dozen subjects, and referred to herself as ‘a teacher who writes.’ One last reason why my vote would go to Ms Angelou is this wonderful quote that I think is very appropriate: “My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors.”
T: 0345 371 0303
Key House, 18 Seaward Place, Centurion Business Park, Glasgow, G41 1HH
Our aspiration is to improve the lives and increase the opportunities available to the temporary teaching profession.
As the employer we are responsible for ensuring our supply teachers benefit from their statutory employment rights including sick pay, holiday pay, maternity and paternity pay, and also we provide employment insurances cover and professional indemnity insurance. We have an administrative team who take care of all the back office matters ensuring the supply teacher can focus on delivering great outcomes. Our expert administrators finalise contract negotiations, invoice the client, account for income and expenditure, set up pension schemes, provide our staff with childcare vouchers, ensure the correct taxes are paid, account for business expenses including travel and subsistence, pay the teacher and deal with any queries from the teacher, the agency or the client.
Many recruitment agencies have a preferred list of umbrella companies that their teachers can use. This list is created after extensive research from the agency analysing key factors concerning umbrella companies such as compliance, financial stability, and service levels. We have recently seen more agencies permit their teachers to use umbrella companies which are not on their preferred list, where they know that the umbrella company in question is reputable. Genie Education are already on the the preferred list of many of the UK's largest agencies and this number is growing as our existing teachers recommend us to new agencies.
To enrol as an employee of Genie Education is very easy and can be completed online. We speak to every teacher pre-enrolment as we appreciate that every teachers' experience and knowledge of umbrella companies is different. Every teacher is provided with a pay calculation based on their individual circumstances. Once a teacher is fully employed by Genie Education they receive a call from our employee support team to explain our processes in more detail and to answer any further questions they may have. Our fantastic and knowledgeable staff have great experience with dealing with teachers and are more than happy to support teachers during their employment with us.
Genie Education appreciate the need to support teachers professionally and we've just added various training resources to our website to begin meeting this need. Training material added onto our website has been based from feedback that teachers have sent us. We're also implementing a new online training system which will offer our teachers with access to bespoke training packages. The first of which will be online safeguarding training.
We understand that working as a supply teacher is challenging as well as rewarding. There aren't too many careers where you can be dressed and ready for work at 7am with no guarantee of actually working that day. As those who already work for us know we have an employee support team whose role is to answer your calls personally. So many issues arise because of poor communication that we feel this is the most important touch point in our organisation. Our support team are exceptionally friendly and thrive on sorting out problems, they will provide you with help, guidance and support and sometimes just a sympathetic ear! As we develop and continuously improve the services provided by Genie Education we will be listening to what you need and are prepared to invest in new ideas. The online training is a demonstration of our commitment.
Not an anecdote but a poem I first heard quoted in a presentation by Sir Ken Robinson. "The Irish poet W B Yeats wrote this to his love, Maud Gonne, regretting that he couldn't really give her what he thought she wanted from him. And he says, "I've got something else, but it may not be for you." He says this "Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths, Enwrought with gold and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths Of night and light and the half-light, I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams." And every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly."