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The Supply Teacher's Essential Toolkit


Emma's first kit bag consisted of just about everything short of the kitchen sink and Brian Cox. This was, of course, impractical. What she offers you now is an Essential Supply Teacher's Toolkit, which is based on her experience.


If you teach in rural areas, getting to work requires a car of your own or one you can have access to with only a few minutes’ notice. Make sure you have a reliable sat-nav system which can get you from A to B. If you are travelling by public transport, check routes at the start of each timetable change and tell your consultant where you are/aren’t willing to go.

2. ID

Always carry your identity papers. Schools expect you to have your DBS certificate and photo id, such as your driving licence or passport. Some teaching agencies supply an id badge. Be aware that some agencies require you to carry a proof of safeguarding training to show to schools as well. Speak to your consultant if you have any doubts.


You might want to bring lunch or have money to buy one. Don’t go without eating. At least have a treat for after school, so you have something to look forward to! Bring your own water bottle and/or lidded cup. Most schools offer you a drink, but this isn’t always the case, so be prepared.


Bring your own pens to mark children’s work (blue, black, purple, green, pink are most commonly used by schools, but bring your own colour ball point pens if you can). You can’t always rely on finding what you need in school, even a whiteboard pen at times. Check with the TA if there is a standard colour for marking and what the marking policy is. This is very important, as schools often have strict rules. As a general rule, if you do marking, add your initials and ‘supply teacher’ alongside what you have done. Also, put scissors, tape, blu-tak, string, colouring pens and pencils, and a sharpener in your kit bag. Label everything and if you lend anything to children, make sure you get it back.


This is a great way to make a good impression. Suggested headings: The Big Idea (suggested planning by the teacher or what you have planned), what is left to do, helpful children, highlights, behavioural issues (the teacher might need to follow-up on something), additional notes, absences, illnesses, accidents. Include your name and contact details, if the school needs to get in touch.


Most of the time, teachers have left you something lovely to teach the children and you get the joy of teaching and marking, then going home. However, when you are called in for an emergency stand-by call, be prepared that there won’t be anything waiting for you. Carry with you at least two or three lessons that can be taught to children within the age ranges that you have said you are prepared to teach. For example, in my bag, I carry three or four story-books from which I can draw English, Maths and Art lessons, with Drama, Geography, History or similar as an additional extra. Include pre-prepared lesson plans with worksheets and activities, and add notes to indicate how you adapted these to suit the children. This takes some nerve and quick thinking in some cases, but with experience and thought, it is fairly easy to achieve. Don’t be afraid to use picture books with Key Stage 2 and non-illustrated texts with Key Stage 1 or even EYFS, children are amazing.


Carrying a focus object that can be used as a talking stone (you can only talk if you’re holding it) is a handy tool. This can take the form of a cuddly toy or golden pebble, whatever works for you. You can use one in concentration games or in discussions, as children are very good at pushing boundaries when their normal teacher is away and establishing rules is essential when you are in charge.


Stickers, stamps and other little rewards can have a massive effect on how well your day goes. A child will remember a moment’s kindness, so a little silver star that cost a fraction of a day’s pay, may make your life a lot easier.


Aquick note here about your phone. Be prepared to pass over your phone at reception or leave it your car if you have somewhere safe to stow it. Many schools prohibit phone usage, even in staffrooms. Valuables are at risk, so please be careful with what you take into school with you. Do take a coat or jumper if the day looks chilly, because no-one expects a playground duty or outdoor lesson like a supply teacher.

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