Supply teachers getting worse?

Has anyone found that in Primary the supply teachers are decreasing in quality?


Not Primary, Secondary, but sort of. There’s a supply and demand issue so a lot of the very good and reliable supply teachers have been snapped up for long-term posts. The agencies seem to be mostly sending out unqualified staff for day cover. Aside from that though, behaviour is really challenging at the moment. I enjoyed supply when I did it and I do have strong behaviour management, but I think I would struggle doing supply under the current conditions. Some of our nicest classes so absolutely feral when a supply teacher enters the room.


Secondary here, but I would agree any decent supply teachers are being snapped up to do long term cover. There's so many departments with long term gaps because e.g. someone left at Easter, but we can't get a replacement until Christmas, or we can't recruit maternity cover, or we can't recruit full stop (not just my school but in general). Therefore, I'd imagine those doing day supply are the ones who either can't take a long term post for some reason, don't want to, or haven't been offered one. It may also relate to your school- the best supply teachers get to pick and choose their schools. This doesn't necessarily mean your school is a rubbish place to do supply (although it might be worth thinking about that) but if you're hard to get to, or slow to call the agency, you may end up with whoever's left?


I think this is quite harsh, the behaviour of school have changed a lot over the years and supply teachers do their best. Apart from the ones I’ve seen who are unsafe/actively rude to pupils/inappropriate (small minority) the rest are genuine good folk. Maybe out of their depth but not ‘worse’


While I agree that it's a different setting to before, I'm definitely finding the quality is just lower. I have far more cover teachers coming in that can't open a PowerPoint, can't read a timetable for their day, etc. Have definitely had a few this year where its their first time back in a school. I don't think I remember having a supply in before that didn't have QTS


Supply here, supply’s in general get treated horrendously by some schools, I can’t speak for others but I’ve worked with some good ones and I myself try my hardest. There might be a quality issue but you gotta look at the source, agencies and schools showing proper respect would increase the supply staffs effort and therefore ability


Could you elaborate on how you’re mistreated or disrespected? Interested to know what to look out for so I can make sure I’m not part of the problem.


Not in the school I'm in now, but experiences include not being shown the staffroom or toilets, no support with behaviour, expected to cover break duty with no chance to go to the toilet or get a drink, being completely ignored by the HT and not being asked my name, just referred to as the cover. That was just in one school that I refused to go back to, but it happens a lot to other supply teachers in lots of different schools.


Not a supply teacher but did it 5 years ago. Often used to get left with no resources, no support and if any issues arose and were passed on, they used to be dismissed. People were often quite rude and flippant in front of the children as well, which obviously when you were trying to establish discipline didn’t exactly help.


Supply here. Other than pupil behaviour and lack of support from SLT/teaching staff, one of the biggest things is how disposable you can be treated. Not once have I been allowed to put my lunch in a fridge. Nobody had shown me to a toilet at any point. I can’t think of a single adult that has asked my name in some schools.


In my current post which I’m leaving in a week so if they do somehow see this, I’m not arsed, I’ve been repeatedly undermined and disrespected by certain members of staff who have outright told children that I’m not in charge the regular teachers are. Even though any sanctions I do give are given in agreement and full conversation with a class teacher or more senior L. One class I’m in, on the day I’m in with them, the class teacher makes me spend literal hours on photocopying and guillotining. None of the other tas she has (2 in her class) do this to anywhere near the volume I do and it feels like during the day I’m in her class it’s me organising her paperwork for the week rather than supporting the class.


One of our local schools has, in the "behaviour management" section of its instructions to supply teachers "we would rather you did not try to use our behaviour management system", and literally nothing else. How the fuck they think anybody is supposed to do anything with a group of year 9s who know that there essentially can't be any consequences for anything they do for an hour I don't know, but that's their preference. Also, just not actually backing up anything that happens: I've been back to a school twice in a week and taught the same class, and noticed that literally all of the warnings and such I'd issued on the first day had just been quietly removed from the system - teaching that class was completely impossible the second time around, because, well, they'd just had absolute proof that there were no actual consequences for anything they did.


I have noticed that even schools that provide a behaviour policy would rather it not be used if I am not there long term


Cover here and had the same thing. Left my long term place at a secondary for the exact reason. My first primary as TA cover were so horribly rude to me and constantly slagged off other supply in the school. Was there for 2 days. Secondary got absolutely 0 help, got shouted at many times by 1 specific member of staff for reasons out of my control. Only had 1 or 2 members of staff really talk to me so it felt incredibly lonely at times. I really try my hardest as cover and do the best with what I've got. Saying that I've seen some god awful cover where I've had to go in the room myself to sort out, no idea what they were doing for the day and absolutely trashing the place.


We have had some horrors with supply this year - I don't mean poor behaviour management (or kids messing about) I mean full on incompetance, unprofessionalism, doing things that would get a regular teachers a disciplinary. I presume it's due to a lack of supply teachers so school will just accept whoever. We've had ones where HoD's have complained about them but they are back in the next day because there is noone else. I do feel for them though, the kids are horrendous for them. I wouldn't want to do it.


Absolute nightmare here too. We had one leave with the file of confidential pupil info (a huge folder that gets signed out of the office and has all the relevant medical data etc) at the end of the day, only for her to return when school phoned her, and proceed to "search" the footpath outside school and the entire premises because she couldn't remember where she'd left it. Many others doing exactly what they'd been told not to do, ignoring planning and resources that have been left. The most recent one mucked up an entire block of English planning by showing a YouTube video of the entire story, when we'd planned a gradual reveal process and discussion for the term, and the instructions were to recap on yesterday's chapter. It's very much about money at our school though, I work part-time and also have a zero hour supply contract, however I'm considered "too expensive" so I'm no longer asked to cover.


Secondary, but definitately. This is probably confirmation bias, but I am struggling with the IT literacy of some of our supplies. We've had people who didn't know how to open powerpoints or turn on projectors, but my favourite (/s) was the one who called me from a neighbouring classroom because the computer wouldn't let him log in - it said press ctrl + alt + del to log in and he didn't know what that meant.


I had a supply teacher helping my y11s 3 with an exam conditions test that had been left as cover. (whole year doing progress check test on the day,) It was discovered when the HoD popped how head in to see how things were getting on and saw the supply teacher helping them. All of the papers said Test clearly on the front and the written instructions that had been left had been explicitly clear. So how on earth they thought it was the right thing to do, I'll never know.


Not sure about primary but the ones we have come in at our school do a great job.


1) most supply teachers I’ve met are ECTs. Barely any schools in this area are taking on ECTs and I’ve even met a supply ECT who’s been doing the job 6 years! As an ECT myself I’m not saying ECTs aren’t capable but they do lack the confidence that a stable position initially provides. (This is a depressing issue that I severely think needs addressing - a lot of my cohort haven’t got permanent positions) 2) most decent supply teachers are placed into long term roles or schools want to keep them. 3) schools are soo different it’s hard to jump from one to another with such little warning. We don’t know your long term curriculum map, the children’s prior knowledge, even the children’s names. Will we have support staff? Where is the toilet? When is the children’s break/lunchtimes? Are the children sitting in their correct seats? We also jump from year to year every day so we have to keep that in mind as expectations/challenges change.


As a supply teacher, I hope not haha I have seen some bad supplies but that's been throughout my time teaching. Not really noticed a new trend or anything. I suppose unqualified supplies do exist but I haven't seen a particular spike in those numbers...but that's purely anecdotal experience. Interested to see what others say!


I’m not sure that you’d know who is unqualified or not unless someone explicitly told you tbh. I only found out because I was chatting with the person who books our cover.


I actually didn't even realise you COULD be an unqualified supply teacher until recently. I thought it was a US thing, and thought you had to be qualified to teach in the UK (apart from private schools). Certainly explains some dodgy supplies that I've seen but tbh I do find it surprising that you can take a class without a qualification!


Cover Supervisors don’t need any teaching qualifications at all, but some do get a day or so of training through their agencies.


I do cover supervising. I am not a teacher. I do this as a part time job alongside my studies. My agency gave me some random online training about SEND, but apart from that I have no training how to deal with kids. It’s really difficult. When I first started, I just didn’t know how schools worked. The schools have no time to introduce you to anything about their school, you just get flung in there to the classroom. I’d never used SIMS before, the first time ever was when I was in front of a horrible year 9 class and just had to figure it out. Some schools give a 1 for good behaviour, some schools give a 5 and vice Verda for bad behaviour. I learnt a LOT on the job. As a supervisor I am not there to teach the students, I don’t possess the required knowledge of their subject. They mostly fill in worksheets or copy out of textbooks. Of course I help them if I can though. I’ve seen even cover teacher who are subject specialists really struggle. We almost NEVER the seating plan, the school I work at has them on the system but they don’t give laptops to visitors and I just do the register on a piece of paper. It’s carnage, it’s basically about just getting them to not go feral


We're desperate for supply atm but have had to ask several not to return because they were so incredibly bad. As in, abuse the kids, total creeps, or allowing serious dangerous incidents to occur level of bad. The couple we've had who are good we've kept as long-term employed supply so I imagine thats what all schools are doing, leaving just the awful ones available for day supply work


Iv been genuinely shocked with how bad supply teachers are. Couldn't offer a full explanation and I am not speaking about every cover teacher but the ones iv seen as an ITT have annoyed me. I was next door working on lesson plans and heard a supply tell the class don't worry about doing any work just don't make loads of noise and nobody will come check


I do supply at the moment and I was in a school one day where the head kept popping in my lesson - found out it was because the last time that particular class had had a supply, she'd yelled at them constantly, made fun of a child for having an absence seizure, and told the whole class they were spoiled brats. So there are definitely awful ones out there, but at the same time when I'm on supply there are some schools that have treated me so awfully I'm never going back. If I could leave supply tomorrow for full time I would (although getting a job as an ECT is really hard where I am) and I'm sure a lot of the other decent supplies are thinking the same.


I supply in primary and haven’t seen one personally, well once but it was a genuine reason. But I have had few instances this year where the school was more surprised that I knew what I was doing. Some were quite rude and dismissive while others went about the supply horror they had the other day. Don’t know what to think or feel. I think it’s mostly people being out of depth.


I think it's lack of experience and many are new to supply teaching.


No offence to supply teachers, I used to be one for a number of years. It can be really hard, hats off to them. However, I think it must be what a poster has said about them being out of depth and just not confident in a school.


100% supply and demand issue the school im currently at is so terrible that the agency that secured me a permanent position here is actively trying to find me another job based off of hear say Plus this teacher shortage has shown me the nasty side of recruitment agency’s in the grand scheme of things even though we benefit This whole situation is a money grab for them which is a conversation for another day


I have done some supply work as day supply and long term for about 5 months between jobs (left one school in December after getting paid out of court with the help of my union for constructive dismissal). Some schools are horrific, no support, no info, nothing. My worst example was when I turned up and was given a list of rooms and names. No one checked who I was, no one gave me a key, login details, any direction of how to navigate the maze of the school, any idea where my classes were, how to report issues, nothing on what subjects were being covered, rooms had no pens, paper, board pens... I was just a legal box check. So I sat there and did "squares tournaments" for a week and refused to go back. I was complimented by SLT "woe! You kept them quiet and in class! I'm impressed Well done!" Was soul destroying.


All the best ones are either kept for long term work or are asked to stay on permanently. I’ve experienced some pretty shockingly awful supply teachers, though (several who spoke next to no English, one who spent nearly a week doing nothing but watching videos and one who felt intimidated by a years 3).


I’ve had a supply teacher ask me for help to turn the tap off in the mens restroom. The tap turns itself off after a short amount of time. Another long term supply who had been at my school for a good solid 4 months at this point asked me how to print because he never had done so before. Then on a separate occasion passed me his computer asking me to show him how to put money onto his pay365 account; I had never done this myself but I just looked at the screen and used some common sense.


Anyone can become a teacher at the moment. So, absolutely anyone can sign up to an agency and get into a school. There is a huge recruitment and retention crisis of teachers.


Supply here. Not to toot my own horn, but I have always gotten great feedback from schools and have been asked to come back and asked to take on longer term roles (but I’m not interested). When I’ve spoken to teachers, they’ve said that I’ve done a good job managing the class, but what they’re most grateful for is that I left a note to tell them what happened during the day and what we completed (which is a MUST as a Canadian supply teacher). And also that I left the classroom tidy (which is honestly me just being a little OCD, so I can’t help cleaning up the classrooms I’m in as I’m going along). But I am part of some supply teacher groups and I hear what people are saying. Supply is a crap paying job and often, we are just kind of thrown into the game with no direction whatsoever - no logins, no keys, no outline of class/school rules, no description of students who need extra support. We’re just expected to know what everybody else knows being a full-time member of staff and are reprimanded when we don’t. To make matters worse, our agencies are constantly trying to steal as much of our wages as possible. And all of that can be overwhelming. That’s not to say supply teachers shouldn’t still strive to be their best. But I can see why some people are over it and are doing the bare minimum. There’s a lot of supply that I feel are very jaded by their experiences and for that reason, they don’t care and they don’t do a good job. And unfortunately, since supply is in demand, they still get employed and that’s just how it is.


I came on this thread bc I was looking for a forum to vent/ help. I am a former English teacher, who changed careers and went to live in the Middle East - I have recently had to come home to UK and I’ve gone supply for the short time I’m home. I have been in secondary schools and had the most extreme disrespect you can imagine almost to physical. The kids bully each other terribly. They seem to hate the teachers and have parents who tell them ‘school isn’t everything’ which they take to mean school means nothing. From someone 10 years ago who loved my job as an Eng teacher with great behaviour I’ve been leaving lessons crying and quitting. The next generation are doomed! No wonder teachers and supply are quitting. It’s upsetting to know I’ll never return to teaching Anyway! My question is- is there a supply teachers forum where we can warn each other about certain schools bc our agencies are sending ppl in blind


Bear in mind as supply you're seeing the worst side of every school you're in. You're there temporarily, you are a body in front of a class, and the kids are a) trying you out as a new challenge to see which boundaries they can push b) not bothered about making a relationship with you because you won't be there tomorrow. So they are going to be awful. I'm not saying the situation is always good, but day to day supply is possibly the toughest job in school because of just this. Getting a permanent job, you'd be likely to get a bit hazed like this to start with like any new member of staff, but the longer you are there the easier things get.


I started supply from taking a break from teaching. Both schools didn’t know what was going on or which classes I had, no logins, really bad behaviour, laptops from 2015 and no textbooks or resources. I did get positive references and went back to full time work. I.T. is easy to use and I fixed up the sound system that had been broken for a year. I praised students who work well and followed behaviour systems if they were bad. The lack of resources were a joke and some teachers were very supportive and others were very rude.