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Just following procedure

Ah, good morning ... I presume you're the supply teacher for today?

That's right. I'm Linda Thomas from the Teachwell Agency.

Welcome. I shall need to see your passport to confirm you are who you say you are. I presume you're medically sound and you've been List 99 and CRB checked?

Of course, headmaster.

GTC certificate? Qualified teacher status? Safeguarding training?

I have all the relevant documentation. Now, if you could show me where the classroom is ...

All in good time, Miss Thomas. Mrs Andrews needs to make a visitor's badge for you. You'll have to sign to say you've received it, wear it at all times round the building to identify yourself and then sign it out at the end of the day.

Thank you. Can you tell me a little about the class I'm taking?

Well, I don't know them personally, of course. I don't interface with children because I'm a manager. My role is progress tracking and target monitoring. But I'm sure this document will be useful to you ...

Does it tell me what you'd like me to teach the children?

No, it's a list of important reminders. Never be alone with a child in case they make an accusation against you. Always exercise caution with physical contact. If you use the internet, make sure the child and parent have both signed the internet safety policy. Be aware of any unusual or suspicious marks on the children's bodies in case we have to do a CAF. If children ask for the toilet, always check if they haven't returned within eight minutes, but take another adult with you. If a child has an accident, make sure it is reported to admin so that Mrs Andrews can file an HS2. The 22 questions on the form might help keep you on the right side of the law. Please answer them comprehensively.

Are the children in the class well behaved?

Yes. And no. They are reasonably well behaved for their class teacher, but you're a supply teacher, so it's best to be ready for a bit of flak. Like many children these days, they don't seem to recognise the word "no". Pupil voice, you see. They've all signed behaviour contracts, so you can always remind them about that if things get a little out of hand. Not that we can enforce anything.

What if a child misbehaves, should I bring them to you?

Good heavens no. Here's a copy of our behaviour policy. There are 17 stages of punishment before you send a child anywhere near me, because I'm very busy with data analysis and senior management meetings and performance monitoring.

What should I do if a disruptive child becomes physical?

Just follow procedures, Miss Thomas. Here's a copy of the restraint policy and I would advise reading it thoroughly. You'll need to grasp the child in the approved manner, of course - we don't recommend a headlock and half nelson - and you'll need at least one extra adult to assist you and be a witness for your actions if there's an official complaint.

But what if the child hurts me?

Then I'm afraid you're on your own. If it's Whacker Wilson, he's a bugger and his mother won't believe a word you say. Best to make sure your union dues are fully paid up. Sorry, is that your phone ringing?

Yes, it's my friend to say there's a shelf-stacking vacancy at Sainsbury's. I might give that a try instead ...

Mike Kent is headteacher at Comber Grove Primary, Camberwell, south London. Email:

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