Building a School Community: How To Help Your Supply Teachers Hit The Ground Running

SupplyWell asked school business managers for their tips on how to help a supply teacher feel prepared when starting a new school. Here is a guide of their tips and recommendations.
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When you’re a supply teacher starting a new role there is a lot of pressure for you to hit the ground running and perform well. A supply teacher’s preparation takes place before arriving at the school, from the moment they receive the call from SupplyWell. How can you help to make sure that your supply teacher hits the ground running? 

SupplyWell is with you every step of the way and we provide the supply teacher with resources to help. We know that running a school is a busy and difficult job, so some of the recommendations in this article are taken care of for you by SupplyWell. 

Arranging the Supply

To start helping your supply teacher, let SupplyWell know what you expect from the teacher so we can tell them. A full brief of what you require ensures that the teacher can be fully prepared. Ultimately, this means that you will get the best possible results from the educator and they will enjoy their time with your school with less anxiety on the first day. This includes being clear on the following details when you first let us know about the role: 

  • Rate of pay 
  • Duration 
  • Whether lessons need to be planned or whether this has already been done for the teacher
  • School type (Secondary school, Primary school, SEND) 
  • Any specialist requirements
  • Location 
  • How they can access policies such as Behaviour Policy 
  • Important school times like lunch, breaks, and end of school day 

At SupplyWell we go through this process with you and some of it is automated. We give the teacher access to the policies of your school, and any important school times to save you valuable time. 

The more detail that you include on the role itself, the better prepared the teacher can be. When starting this process please ensure that you have realistic expectations of the teacher. Even seasoned supply teachers need to start with the basics of creating relationships with a class, so bare this in mind when you are considering standards and performance.

Before the supply teacher arrives 

Arriving at a new school as a supply teacher is an exciting moment, although it may also be a little nerve wracking depending on experience and how prepared the teacher feels. It’s always better going into the ‘known’ rather than ‘unknown’ so here are some recommendations of things you can do prior to their first day to help supply teachers hit the ground running.

Drop them an email or call the day before their arrival to welcome them to your school community, regardless of how long they will be with you. It is important to show that your school is a welcoming and friendly place to work because supply teachers will be more eager to work with you again. 

Preparing a welcome pack is a thoughtful and effective way of helping a supply teacher feel comfortable and prepared. Although you might consider this a time consuming process, you can keep copies of the welcome pack and distribute it again in the future to other new supply teachers. Having access to a wealth of information will be beneficial to the teacher and time saving in the future if they have something they can easily refer back to. Supply teachers are self-starters, efficient and would welcome anything that can help them do their jobs with minimal disruption. Welcome packs could include: 

  • Key aspects of a Behaviour Policy and Safeguarding Policy (At SupplyWell we give the teacher this information)
  • Names of Key Pastoral Staff
  • Names of Heads of Departments
  • Who is the Designated Safeguard Lead
  • A map of the school
  • Fire Procedures 
  • Key school times such as times of breaks (At SupplyWell we give the teacher this information)

If you wanted to go the extra mile you could provide the teacher with a map of the area with tips on where the closest shop is and public transport links.  

When the teacher arrives 

It’s nice to greet the teacher once they have arrived at the school by having a member of SLT or a member of the department that the supply teacher is working in, on hand to welcome the new teacher. This hands on approach makes all the difference in ensuring that the teacher feels valued and welcomed to the new school. Creating a friendly welcoming atmosphere will no doubt come naturally to you, it is easy to get caught up in the fast paced nature of school life. Taking that time to properly welcome the new comer will make them feel at ease and it’s nice to present your school as the great friendly environment that it is. You want the supply teacher to leave with a positive lasting impression. 

Making sure someone is available for the teacher is another great way of supporting them, and helping them feel comfortable. Some business managers recommend organising a short welcome tour to show the supply teacher the key places they need to visit such as their classroom, the restrooms, the staffroom. Introduce them to whoever is in the staffroom at dinner time and check in with the supply teacher when you have a spare moment. Let them know who they can go to if they need anything.  

When a supply teacher is able to hit the ground running at a new school, it is a benefit for everyone. The supply teacher has a pleasant experience working at your school and you have an effective and happy teacher in your community, who will want to come back and work with you. These tried and tested tips can help supply teachers feel welcome, happy and prepared in whatever roles you have for them. 

What do you do to welcome supply teachers to your school? Let us know! If you’re a school who wants to do supply differently let’s have a chat. Join a community of schools adopting the new ethical way of obtaining supply. 

Call us 0333 305 0601 or email Schools@SupplyWell.co.uk 

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