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Supply - What you really need to know!

Emma is a Teaching Assistant who works for Protocol Education in Wolverhampton. Emma has put a list together of everything you will need to know to get through a day of supply. 

Recently started working for Protocol Education? Here's a few tips that will help you navigate through your day at a new school.

First thing:

  • Be prepared. Start the night before by packing your lunch, ID, DBS (or CRB) and setting out an outfit for the next day.  Don't forget to set your alarm for an eye blurring time too.
  • In the morning wake up early for your shower.  Believe me, you don't want to be answering the phone with soapy hands!
  • 'The call' can come at any moment between 7 am and 9 am.  Common sense would suggest that most people would call in sick early.  Ignore common sense.  It's not that common after all.
  • So, you've had the call.  Check, do they authorise online time sheets? Yes? You're good to go.  No? Grab a paper time sheet. No, schools don't keep copies.
  • Think; how are you getting there? Because the chances are you won't be sent to the nice little school at the end of your street.  You could be up to 25 miles away. I can't comment on public transport, well I could, but I'm keeping my language clean.  If you're a driver, I highly recommend a SATNAV (despite their many faults - read on my blog on that here).  Make sure you have enough petrol for the journey and avoid motorways at all costs during rush hour.  Unless that is you really want to re-create that scene from Dr Who.  In which case take a sleeping bag...

Getting there:

  • Traffic, traffic, traffic! If Protocol Education ask for an ETA and it's after 8:00 am when you leave, add an extra 30 minutes onto what ever time you have in your head.  You'll need the extra time to get through the traffic. And in any case it's better to be early than late.
  • Arriving at the school. Firstly, don't assume you can use their car park.  Often spaces are limited, so if you can, park on the road (just not on the double yellow lines)

If the conversation dies down it is never acceptable to get your phone out and call your mate about last night's "all nighter".  And you'd think it would go without saying, but never fall asleep in the corner...

Once you have arrived:

  • When you get there, first locate the reception. Then, not forgetting to smile announce clearly who you are and what you are doing there.  Then hand in your DBS (or CRB) and ID. Have it to hand, most schools will want to take photocopies and you won't make a good first impression by spilling out the contents of your bag trying to find them.
  • Priorities. If it's your first time they'll want to give you the tour.  Before you ask about timetabling or planning ask two important questions.  Where are the toilets? And where is the staff room?
  • So, you get to the classroom.  Don't assume there'll be any planning.  Always have a back up prepared.  Yes, schools will assume that you can magically pull out a lesson plan for every subject, for every year group, for every term from your bag.  And they will judge you if you can't.  No pressure there then...

During the day:

  • Break times. Don't assume you can help yourself to tea and coffee.  Some schools do allow any one access, others guard the coffee jars as though they were the holy grail and look at you like you just spat in their face should you use their milk.  Best take your own to avoid any issues.  Coffee whitener or those little tubs of UHT milk can easily be stored away for such occasions.
  • Lunch times. Minefield.  If there are chocolates, cakes or biscuits on the table don't help yourself, no matter how tempting the treat. Check you aren't sitting in some one's favourite seat and if you can, take your own cup.  There's nothing worse than some one else drinking from your favourite cup! That is, unless they commit the heinous sin of drinking from your favourite cup whilst sitting in your favourite chair and helping themselves to the biscuit barrel.  Then heaven help them...
  • Try to join in with any conversations, but don't barge in with your own opinions.  If the conversation dies down it is never acceptable to get your phone out and call your mate about last night's "all nighter".  And you'd think it would go without saying, but never fall asleep in the corner...


  • At the end of the day, as the kids are piling out the classroom, do not under any circumstances leave without first tidying up the classroom and completing all of the marking.  And no, one tick on each page and "supply" written in brackets does not count as quality assessment.
  • Finally, don't forget your timesheet and sign out before you go.  If you enjoyed it, let the school know.  If you didn't, let Protocol Education know.  That way they won't send you back.  Besides no one likes hearing that you hated their school!

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Tags: EmmaH, Protocol Education, Supply, Teaching, what-to-do, timesheets, call,

Category: Australian Teachers

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