The teaching profession is continually in the limelight. Supply teaching and supply teachers seem to be in the news regularly these days. Whether it is the cost of supply teaching to schools – with Gillingham’s schools in the news recently for having paid out over £175,000 on supply teachers in one year, supply teachers being accused of unprofessional behaviour or myriad other issues surrounding their employment and usage.
One of the main issues surrounding supply teachers is their career development. As supply teachers are not placed in schools on a permanent basis – working either day, short term or long term cover – they are not getting the same level of continuous professional development (CPD) as permanently employed teachers. Schools are often reticent to offer this as the teacher will only be with them for the short term, perhaps not nearly long enough to complete either the training or to repay it with increased classroom performance.
Supply teaching agencies also often do not offer large scale amounts of CPD training as again there is the possibility of the supply teacher moving to another agency, and thus the original agency not seeing the benefit of their investment in the teacher. So what is the answer to giving the proper, and necessary, amount of CPD for supply teachers to be up to speed with their permanent colleagues?
At GRI we manage relationships between schools, supply teaching agencies and supply teachers. Our aim is to minimise the potentially disruptive impact the placement of a supply teacher can have on classes.
One of the main issues with CPD in teaching in general, and especially with supply teaching, is that there is no central professional body which can come between government ministers (keen to be seen making changes) and teachers to ensure they are neither micro-managed nor left out in the cold. Teaching needs a clear and coherent body which can set a standardised programme of CPD across the profession.
As there aren’t requirements for agencies to provide their supply teachers with a minimum standard of CPD, the use of supply teachers can be viewed as a potential risk to the educational development of a class. In short, supply teachers may not be up to date with ‘best practice’ and the post-training teacher professional development in general is in a poor state, when compared to other professions such as medicine. As we have seen, provision of CPD can be haphazard at best and in general lacks strategic direction.
So what is the answer and how can you work to raise the standard of CPD for supply teachers you hire?
At GRI, we work with schools and supply agencies to deliver the highest quality supply teachers to every school placement we cover. We focus on delivering supply teachers who give a better level of teaching, maximising the lesson time in your classroom and the budget you spend on supply teacher cover. One of the ways we do this is to work with supply agencies to ensure all supply teachers who work with us undergo our programme of continuous professional development, specifically related to delivering supply in schools. We have an improvement officer who visits schools we work with and observes the supply teacher(s) in class. They then assess a teacher’s individual CPD needs. We then work with the teacher and school team to determine the best courses available to address that teacher’s needs. It is a process of continual improvement, as CPD should always be.
One way to ensure your students and pupils always benefit from the best classroom experience is to work with us at GRI, supply teacher agencies and supply teachers themselves to ensure their professional standards are maintained and that they meet your high professional criteria.
To further support supply teachers you work with, it is a good idea to share various CPD materials and resources with your supply staff with which they can further develop at their own pace. There are excellent resources such as TheSupplyTeacher.com, which has a six-part course focused on how to be a better supply teacher.