The art of supply

I’ve been working on supply a while now and have been fortunate to have had a number of longer term placements mixed in with some casual day to day bits.

The same problems and concerns crop up at each new place. Here are some things that schools can do to make life a little smoother.

Day to day placements

  • Safeguarding. Make sure there is a photo of the designated person on any leaflets that are handed out, as well as time given to read and process this vital information
  • Facilities. A quick tour of the school to locate staff room, toilets and a safe space to leave your bag is always appreciated.
  • Introductions. I was once put in a classroom of boys with challenging behaviour and left to get on with it. This was after I’d been in the room with normal class staff for an hour. Introductions and a chance to look at behaviour plans would have prevented the carnage that followed.
  • ICT. It is so important to be able to log on to a computer, especially if part of the lesson you are covering requires it!
  • Access. Keys, swipes and codes.
  • Lunch arrangements. Is it only supply that use the staff room?
  • How to raise concerns. I guess this goes with safeguarding really, but I have found myself not invited back having raised concerns about things I have witnessed.

Long term placements

All of the above still apply, as well as

  • A timetable. It should go without saying that if you’ve booked supply you should know what you want them to do!
  • Appropriate tech and enhanced ict access. I can’t take the resister if I don’t have a log in, or a device to log in on
  • Shared expectations. Do you want me at briefing? After school meetings? Twilight? Parents evening? Will you pay me accordingly?
  • Communication. Please talk to me directly about decisions that affect me. Don’t expect my agency to act as a go between and pass everything on. Especially if you are going to change my timetable and my subject!
  • Be consistent. If you expect to observe me and judge my marking (really not a problem), then I deserve to be given a debrief session too.

Remember, there is no such thing as a silly question, it’s just something you’ve not been told the answer to yet.


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Top Tips for NQTs going into SEN

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I’ve been working with students with a Visual Impairment this term, alongside other learning difficulties. Our theme was ‘minibeasts and animals’ and amongst other things we’ve had butterflies to hatch, visits from dogs and ponies and a chance to build a minibeast hotel.

Alongside this we have been exploring the local environment on a weekly basis. There is a (neglected) sensory garden at school, plenty of bushes and trees but very few flowers. We’ve been getting the students to interact with as many of these as possible along the way, often along the lines of ‘feel the tree trunk, here’s a leaf to explore’. I realised towards the end of term that we have inadvertently taught these students that when you encounter a plant, you have to pick a leaf…. I’ll have to think more carefully next year about how I deliver the practical side of investigating plants.

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#30dayswild 30

It seemed appropriate to finish my 30DaysWild back where I started, at Brandon Marsh. However, this time I crossed the road into Brandon Wood, for a 5km walk around the perimeter paths before heading to Badgers’ Tea Room for lunch. I then completed half of the walk I did previously, this time in the other direction (only half because it was too hot).

I enjoyed looking at the butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies as I went on my way, only sad to have not spotted a heron today.

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#30dayswild 28, 29

The caterpillars have finally turned into butterflies. At some point this afternoon, another one emerged from its’ chrysalis, but it waited until we were not looking!

As the whole school has got their own caterpillars at various stages of development, I did a sensory assembly today, based on ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’. While I read the story students experienced the range of fruit and cake that the caterpillar eats in the story, before being cocooned in a blanket to experience emerging as a butterfly!

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#30dayswild 27


I love the lilies in my pond, it’s been great checking them every hour since I’ve been home and watching them close up for the night.

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#30dayswild 26

My wildflower garden is once again looking spectacular and inviting all the insects and butterflies to come for some flowers!20180630_144910

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