Do not register with lots of agencies if you are seeking day to day supply teaching or teaching assistant work as this will not gain you more work, in fact it can have the opposite effect. Many agencies look for loyalty and find it difficult to keep up to date with supply staff’s availability; in turn it can be a nightmare for you to keep tabs on your own calendar! Some agencies offer a ‘guaranteed pay scheme’ which should mean that if you commit to the agency by making yourself available solely to the one agency you will have work on the days you have agreed to work for them. If the agency fails to offer you work the agency has to pay you the agreed daily rate.
RMTA recommends you choose one or two agencies, this will enable you to build a good relationship with the agency and the agency’s staff, they will understand your needs and requirements and match these to schools, area and the key stages you feel comfortable teaching. A good way of finding an agency, is of course visiting RMTA’s website, the second way is visiting your local schools and asking who they use and who they recommend you register with. Sometimes a friend or colleague can recommend an agency but this isn’t a guaranteed way of finding a good agency.
If you are looking for supply work in London you do not need to have a car, London transport is, in fact, the best way for you to travel to work. Most agencies give you the exact location of the school, which station you need to arrive at and at what time you need to be there. Some agencies will even send you directions from the station to the school.
Agency’s can and will book you in advance, however, generally you will be notified of a booking in the morning. Most agencies open at 7am and can contact you from this time until 9.30am (late bookings are also a regular occurrence). Ensure you keep your agency up to date with your availability at all times!
Once you arrive at the school plans may have been left for you to follow, however, some schools will not have plans as the class teacher may have called in sick that morning. Ensure you always have work you can pull out of your bag for the year group you have been assigned to that day.
Being flexible with year groups can lead to a greater chance of securing work.
One small piece of advice is to always take your coat off in class, do not chew gum and remove any facial piercings (apart from earrings).
Always ask the class Teaching Assistant what the behaviour management structure is for the school or class. If there isn’t a Teaching Assistant in the class liaise with your parallel class teacher, if the school is a one form entry the school secretary should have a behaviour management policy note for you to read.
Always ensure that all marking is completed before you leave for the day, it is always good practice to leave a positive note for the class teacher. Try to refrain from giving negative feedback as this; can sometimes, work against you and the school could request that you are not invited back!
Do not leave the school’s premises until all of the children have left with the correct parent or guardian.
Supply teaching is always a really good way of gaining experience, from honing your skills with behaviour management to gaining a broader knowledge of schools procedures and policies.
Above all, always arrive at the school smiling and happy to be there, this goes a long way with schools and there first impression of you and the agency you represent.