Fiona*, a former department head with 23 years’ experience, began supply teaching to free up some time so she could study for an MA. But she left her first school after just one day following a bad experience with a Year 9 geography class.
“The class came in overly excited,” she says. “One boy was pushing another one and the others started cheering.
“I tried to get them to settle and gave out the text books, but some pupils started throwing them. There seemed to be an ongoing issue and I had no idea what it was. Somebody didn’t want to sit next to somebody else and they wanted to push the desk forward.
“There was so much chatter and shouting that I couldn’t hear myself speak, so I sent a child to the classroom next door to ask for help.
“Three senior leadership teachers came in, which told me straight away that they knew there were issues with the class. One of them admitted that was why the teacher was on sick [leave], and it made me very upset because they hadn’t prepared me.
“The school hadn’t even given me a behaviour policy.”
Fiona says she was also kept in the dark in her next school, on a long-term contract, because she wasn’t invited to regular meetings and briefings.
She explains: “It meant that I had no idea of issues affecting children, nor did I have access to computer records of targets and SEN details.
“I left after four weeks because I just found it so challenging. They were expecting me to know things when I didn’t. I didn’t know, for example, if a child was having difficulties at home.
“You could see poor behaviour but you didn’t know what was behind it. It was because I was on supply that they felt they couldn’t share confidential information with me.”
*Fiona’s name has been changed