Remember to include supply teachers when you run a school staff wellbeing survey.
Lots of schools rely on supply teachers, and will often have the same supply teachers coming in time after time. This works well for everyone. Children see a familiar face, and the supply teacher becomes familiar with the children and the school.
Supply teachers can sometimes feel like second-class citizens. They’re in school often enough to feel like they should be part of the team, but might feel left out.
Manage the wellbeing of the supply teachers
A supply teacher is doing the same crucial job as a permanent member of staff – teaching children. If a school thinks it is important to manage the wellbeing of their permanent staff, they should take the same care of their supply staff.
If you run an annual staff wellbeing survey, consider carefully how supply teachers answer the questions; compare these to the answers from your permanent staff. Here are a few typical questions which might merit special attention:
(All these questions are taken from the SchoolStaffSurveys.com staff wellbeing survey)
Supply teachers aren’t in it for the money. Often, they have chosen supply to enjoy the satisfaction of teaching without the extra workload that comes with being a permanent teacher. Do they get that at your school, or are they feeling like an over-qualified babysitter?
Again, over qualified babysitter or outstanding teacher?
Providing supply teachers with feedback
Just because your supply teachers don’t get a formal annual appraisal, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get feedback. Everyone wants to know when they are doing a good job, and what they can work on to improve. The permanent class teacher will form a clear opinion about the supply teacher very quickly, from talking to their class and reviewing books.
There’s no reason why schools can’t turn this into simple feedback for the supply teacher.
Oh, you don’t do a spelling test on Thursday any more? No-one told me. The classic trap for a supply teacher. Because they aren’t in school every day, it is especially important to be sure that your supply teachers are kept in the loop.
Remember the supply teachers will often experience many different schools all in the same week. They’ll see lots of things done well and things done not so well. Every school can use this experience to their benefit, as long as they are open to challenge and are ready to hear from their supply teachers as readily as their permanent staff.
Every supply teacher will have their favourite schools to work in. Is yours one of them, or is it just another assignment?
Lots of teachers have left permanent roles to try supply teaching because they didn’t like the stress and workload of being a permanent teacher. They felt they didn’t have a great environment to work in. How does your school stack up against the experience those supply teachers had at their old schools? Do they see your school as a great place to work for permanent staff?
About the author:Bruce Greig is an entrepreneur and school governor. He served as Chair of Governors through two Ofsted inspections and four headteachers. He runs SchoolStaffSurveys.com, an online service which allows school leaders to run effective staff wellbeing surveys.
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