Opus Teach’s Guide for New Supply Teachers

Being a new supply teacher can be a bit daunting. Every school is different and often by the time you are settled into one it can be time to move on to the next. But, if you are prepared from the beginning, know what to expect/what to ask, you will succeed. Your experience with agencies and schools doesn’t have to be negative and supply teaching can be an extremely rewarding career.

Compliance checks:

Before receiving work offers, you will have all your vital documents and qualifications checked. This ensures that you are qualified to work in the UK, have all the essential qualifications that allow you to begin teaching, and in general are fit for purpose.

Opus Teach compliance checks are detailed and thorough and can take up to 6 weeks, but this is purely for yours and the schools benefit to guarantee quality.

Questions you should ask before you start:

Before you start work as a supply teacher, it is important that you clearly establish the terms and conditions of your employment. There are some key questions you should ask when enquiring or registering with an agency:

  • How much will I get paid?
  • When will I be paid?
  • What is the rate of pay for a full or half day of supply work?
  • Is there a disciplinary procedure applicable to you?
  • If I am unable to attend work due to sickness, are there any provisions for sick pay? What is the process to make you aware that I am ill?
  • If I become pregnant, is there any entitlement to maternity pay or leave?
  • Are you obliged to accept an assignment offered to you?
  • What is the insurance position if, for example, something goes wrong in the classroom?

Questions on arrival at the school:

When you first arrive at the school, you should be provided with information regarding the school’s policies, especially if you have not worked there before.

At Opus Teach, all of our registered schools have information packs ready for supply teacher to ensure that they begin the day with all the information they need.

Here are a list of questions and information which you should be given, however if you aren’t supplied this information, you can use these points below as a guideline:

  • Who will be my line manager at the school?
  • What are the names of heads of departments, key stages and senior management team?
  • Will I need codes or key fobs to access parts of the school?
  • What are the timings of the day?
  • Will I be taking on lunch or break duties?
  • What are the arrangements for assemblies and registrations?
  • Will I be expected to go to meetings?
  • Is there a map of the school?
  • Is there a seating plan for each class?
  • Do you call a register every lesson?
  • What is the process for dealing with pupil discipline and disruption?
  • What is the fire alarm procedure?

Your role:

As a supply teacher, you are expected to carry out work the same way as any permanent teacher. During your time covering the absent teacher, you should be adding value to the pupil’s education and teaching them, rather than just supervising.

If a supply teacher is only at a school for a few days, it is unlikely that they will be asked to attend meetings or parent’s evenings. However, if they are at a school for a longer period, they may be required to attend such meetings/activities.

You should act in line with the school’s policies, including their behavioural policy. This ensures consistency for the pupils, and keeps a clear message throughout the time you are covering.

Being a supply teacher is a great career path for those wanting flexibility, an improved work life balance, and to teach without the commitment of a permanent position!

Opus Teach provides you with the ability to control and manage your workload, whilst providing you with an easy to use system, friendly faces behind the scenes, great schools and fair pay which we are consistently transparent with.

Come equipped!

Turning up in a new school for the first time, you never know what to expect.

Make sure you have a couple of generic lesson plans which can be slightly adapted to suit any skill set and age. If possible, try to get to a school with time to familiarise yourself with behaviour policies, layout and what equipment your classroom has.

It is always a good idea to carry a pencil case with essentials in, as you never know what you will be left with!

Remember to always take your DBS, ID and any essential documentation requested.

It is also advisable to make a great impression when leaving, to ensure you are the first person the school thinks of if they need supply again. You have a duty to mark all the work needed, and not rushing off as soon as the bells rings will allow yourself time to tidy the room to make sure that the classroom is ready for the next morning.


Pay is a controversial topic within the world of supply. From adverts asking for all day cover from a qualified teacher for £50 a day, to some agencies taking 40% of a teacher’s day rate, the pay can completely vary.

We believe in paying main teacher pay scale to all our teachers. We ensure our supply teachers are of a high standard, therefore why shouldn’t we pay them what they deserve?

We are consistently transparent with our rates to both schools and teachers. We do not deduct anything apart from your National Insurance and tax, and you can opt in to our pension scheme where we can match up to 5%. Apart from those obligatory deductions, we do not take anything else. There’s no office charge or secret deductions!

What we do to help you…

Here at Opus Teach we have an emphasis on ensuring all our teachers feel confident in their ability and are classroom ready. We do not send any teachers into classrooms who we do not feel are suitable, therefore as an art teacher you will never be placed into a maths lesson! We hope this would calm your nerves as you will only ever be placed in a position that you feel capable to do.

All our teachers are interviewed by an educational professional and a member of our team. This allows us to make sure that you are of the quality that we are looking for, and that we are suitable for your needs. Even though we are interviewing you, this is your opportunity to find out if we are the right fit for you.

After your interview, we will finalise your compliance checks with references and all the essential document checks. If you are successful, we then keep in regular contact with you regarding our available positions (we supply a mixture of short and long-term placements!) and how you’re getting on. If we find that for some reason you are not being placed, even when your profile is coming up in multiple searches, we will meet with you and discuss ways to add to your profile and analyse what may be missing (we can then try to help with providing CPD and additional training etc).

After every placement we will get in contact with both yourself and the school to find out how your day went and if you have any future requests, e.g. to not work there again or for the school to add you as a favourite!

We aim to have great relationships with both schools and teachers. Our friendly account managers aim to know our teacher’s skills, teaching age range and all the details that count, which really makes a difference to our service.

Being wholly owned by Suffolk County Council is a great advantage, as we have great relationships with Schools Choice and many other educational organisations.

Just enjoy it! We are here to help you make your supply teaching experience as smooth as possible, so you can relax and enjoy!

If you have any questions about Opus Teach and how we are different to other agencies, then please get in contact either via our website or call 03301 242801.

To register, please visit opusteach.co.uk!

Suzanne Mildinhall

Opus Teach Account Manager

03301 242801

03301 242801

If you’re struggling to find a temporary job to suit your skills and needs, register now and speak to one of our consultants.

One response to “Opus Teach’s Guide for New Supply Teachers

  1. I am now available and looking for temporary work; either as a teacher or as a teaching assistant. I welcome weekly or termly contracts.
    Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

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