I was a supply teacher and it was hell – it wasn’t the kids’ fault though, the teachers didn’t turn up for work enough | The Sun

I was a supply teacher and it was hell – it wasn’t the kids’ fault though, the teachers didn’t turn up for work enough | The Sun

09/09/2022

SCHOOLS are back to school this month but one person who won’t be heading to the class room is Claire*.

The former supply teacher, who lives in the south east of England, worked in the large secondary school for three years. 

And it was hell. “It was more like riot control than teaching,” Claire, in her 30s, told Fabulous in an exclusive interview.

Now she shares her story:

STOOD in the front of my class of 35 pupils, I ducked to avoid the avalanche of flying food.

But – wham – an apple hit me smack bam in the middle of the head.

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I was a supply teacher at a large secondary school in the south of England. 

I thought it was going to be great.

The truth? It was more like riot control. I didn’t teach the kids – I was nothing more than a glorified bouncer as they hurled food about, shouted abuse and climbed out windows. 

When I took my job as a teacher in 2014, after three years of university, I had dreams of making a difference.

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I imagined feeling rewarded and satisfied with my job as I opened young minds to learning.

But nothing could have prepared me for the experience that lay ahead.

There were eight of us employed full time to cover lessons in permanent teachers’ absence.

That showed how often the main teachers were off to start, either through stress or sickness. 

It was also not a requirement to have a PGCE (a postgraduate certificate in education), which is what a teacher ordinarily needs, in order to take on the role either. 

In one class I covered, the pupils had not seen their actual teacher for quite a while and continued to act up more and more until one day food started flying around the room.

As I got walloped in the head with an apple, one boy started to climb out of the window and began egging on the others.

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Before I knew it, half the class had climbed out the ground floor window and were in the playground.

At one point I was allocated to covering French lessons for months – despite not having even studied it myself in school.

Another time I found myself covering chemistry. I would awkwardly Google the answers to the pupils’ questions as I didn’t know anything.

The kids had no respect for supply teachers whatsoever – perhaps they were fed up with their main teachers being off.

I often found myself yelling into a void and getting sarcastic answers back and being asked if I was pregnant in front of the whole class (I wasn’t, I just had put on a bit of weight).

Meanwhile, they simply ignored detention, leaving without a backwards glance.

I also had a rather awkward encounter when covering food technology… a subject which was at least under my realm.

We were in the computer room and the class was supposed to be searching for recipes for savoury treats.

However, one of the kids managed to somehow turn off the safety function that restricts certain searches on the computers and when they all started googling ‘pasties’, a very different type of pasty was popping up on their screens. 

I had a lot of explaining to do when another teacher randomly decided to pop in on my class.

On another occasion, I was covering for a music teacher, and the class decided to make as much noise as they possibly could, all at once, right next to the assembly hall. 

I couldn’t even be heard over all of the noise, let alone get the class back under control. 

We ended up with the headmaster intervening. They all got detention and I received 30 letters of apology the next day.

Great… but not what I signed up for. 

I was so worn down that every time a half term or school holiday rolled around I found myself coming down with tonsilitis the moment I stopped.

Looking back, I can’t believe I let it  become my daily life for 3 years.

I am now very much happily self-employed and doing what I love.

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Would I return to teaching? 

No! And seeing staff head back into the classroom my heart sank for them.

Rather them than me!

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