With strike action having already taken place this year and more days planned with teachers set to walk out over pay, minimising the disruption caused to the learning environment continues to be a top priority for school leaders. Ensuring consistent delivery of educational outcomes and the management of the classroom environment have put immense strain on schools. In our latest blog, we discuss the challenges ahead for school heads and how supply teachers can play a key role in maintaining teaching continuity.
A consistent experience
Whether placing more emphasis on systems and processes or relationships, the consensus in the education establishment is that consistency is king. Irrespective of the seniority of the individual or whether you’re engaging with a supply teacher, the same levels of quality must be upheld in the classroom, both in terms of the education provided and the experience for the pupils. At the heart of this is having a clearly defined behavioural policy that sets out core expectations when dealing with students so that everyone knows where they stand. This leaves very little room for misinterpretation and mistakes when it comes to the applications of these policy requirements.
But what else can schools, Trusts and academies do to ensure greater consistency and better classroom management among teachers and supply staff?
One of the most important areas of focus which can often be overlooked for supply teachers in particular is training and coaching on dealing with student behaviour or misbehaviour, which will have a big influence on a student’s ability to thrive in the classroom. This is even more important today when we’re seeing more cases of mental wellbeing struggles and anxiety among pupils. Given the breadth of the subject, training should be provided on an ongoing basis as part of the individual teacher’s continuing professional development (CPD) – something we’re proud to offer our supply teachers.
Tackling these issues can be extremely difficult in a classroom context when constant interruptions can stifle learning. And while there will be school rules that pupils will be aware of, ensuring these are reinforced by supply staff will be key to maintaining consistency. Having a pre-prepared checklist can be especially useful for new teachers coming into the school for the first time or those back on assignment again, so that they can remind themselves of the steps the school, academy or Trust expects them to follow if, say, they need to diffuse a situation in the classroom.
Promoting consistent classroom behaviours
Managing student behaviour effectively is no easy task given the number of students and the multitude of different scenarios that could arise in a classroom. When there is disruption due to staff absence and a supply teacher is needed, it helps to bring a familiar face into the classroom. Having a previous temporary professional back onsite provides a level of consistency, even when a permanent teacher is out for any reason.
This tactic forms the foundation of our bank model of supply cover, which enables schools to directly develop a relationship with local staff who can be used time and again when needed. This allows head teachers to build a connection with temporary staff that in turn helps to alleviate some of the uncertainties that come with supply teacher placements.
When it comes to consistency, this model also helps ensure the teacher being brought into the classroom is more in tune with the school’s teaching methods – whether that’s having a preference for outdoor teaching, daily routines for certain groups and ages or even simply knowing the school values.
When engaging with external agencies to hire supply teachers, it is imperative that individuals are vetted and that compliance standards and quality control checks are met, but for pupils, it is the consistency of the education they receive that really matters.
There may be times of disruption ahead, particularly with strikes on the cards. But even on a day-to-day basis, being able to maintain the same level of experience for students when permanent staff are suddenly unavailable – which as we all know, happens with little warning – is crucial to help pupils thrive in their education.
While supply teachers might only be a temporary addition to the school, they may be needed time and again. Having the network to engage with these individuals or simply being able to rest assured that they have the training you expect, will be hugely valuable for all educational institutions.
Looking for quality supply teachers with a track record of success? Find out more about our supply teacher model and contact the team today.