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Supply and demands

With full-time teachers suffering excessive workload, many are choosing to switch to supply. But is the grass really greener as a supply teacher? Dave Speck looks at the reality of life in the classroom for these essential players in our education system. What’s it like being thrown into a strange school at an hour’s notice, without even getting the chance to read its behaviour policy? Could schools and the agencies – some of which are accused of unscrupulous practices – give supply teachers more support?

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You’re on supply at a school you’ve never worked at before, and first up it’s Year 8.

They’re cheeky and take time to settle: “Are you a proper teacher?” “Have you got kids?” “Are you gay?” “Do you watch Family Guy?”

By contrast, in period two you feel as if you’re invisible in front of Year 11 bottom set English. You learn names, you smile, you chat and you gently start to encourage them to get their books out, to sit on chairs and not desks, and to remove their coats, caps and headphones.

They ignore your instructions and start moving desks and chairs so they can sit closer together, while ...

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