Interview with... Karen

Interview with... Karen, supply co-ordinatorKaren McVea-Roberts, Year 3 teacher at Barrow Island Community Primary School tells us about her school's expectations of a supply teacher.
Have you ever worked as a supply teacher?

Yes, when I first started teaching in 1995 alongside a part-time teaching post. Again four years later after resigning from the wrong job, preferring supply.

How often does your school use supply teachers?

Rarely due to funding. Only if necessary due to staff illness and lack of cover within school.

Does your school use supply teachers known to them, supply teachers from a pool, or from an agency?

Usually known to us.

Does your school have a policy regarding what should be left for a visiting teacher? Or a pack?

No but there is a clear expectation.

How do you welcome supply teachers into your school?

With an introduction and tour if time allows. Regular check-ins throughout the day.

What does your school look for in a good supply teacher?

Flexibility, good behaviour management, high expectations, sense of humour and they have to fit in (and want to come in) the staff room.

What are your expectations of a supply teacher in terms of providing work, marking work, playground duties and use of the staffroom etc.?

Depends on the circumstances. If a teacher is off unexpectedly a supply would be expected to provide work. If it is a planned absence, there should be a conversation between teacher and supply teacher. If a regular session is to be covered there may well be a planning expectation. Supply teachers are expected to mark work unless otherwise instructed, will cover duties as the timetable of the absent teacher and are welcome and encouraged to go to the staff room. We have a lively but light-hearted staff quiz on a Friday lunchtime and supply teachers are encouraged to participate if they want to.

Story time!

At a previous school we had a supply teacher who hadn't been in the classroom for several years since qualifying but thought she'd give it a go when she got the emergency agency call! The children ran rings round her and she wasn't invited back. Word of mouth is always best in a small town like ours!

And finally! Who would be the ultimate supply teacher?

For people of a certain age...   Johnny Ball. Alternatively, Stephen Fry or Dave Grohl. Now that would be an entertaining day at school!


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