Your list of primary supply teaching essentials


Supply teaching can mean working in a wide range of schools with an eclectic mix of children and that brings a unique set of challenges.

But a little bit of preparation can make a big difference, enabling you to succeed in the classroom and to make a big difference to the education of the children you meet.

This is especially the case with primary supply teaching and walking in with the tools you need can influence that all-important first impression – boosting your chances of getting work at the school in the future.


There is no guarantee that you’ll have all of the stationary you need to hand in the classroom, so having several pens is a must.

Some primary schools may even implement policies where they use different colours when marking work, so you’ll be able to complete marking in a similar fashion.

Pens and highlighters are the main items you’ll need, and the good news is they won’t take up too much room in your bag!


From noting down good and bad behaviour to organising work or providing handover notes, post-it notes can be invaluable for a supply teacher.

Not only does it enable them to be organised, but it means you can provide extra support to the staff whose absence you are covering.

Handover sheet

Alternatively, have copies of a handover sheet to hand so you can provide the next primary teacher with concise notes on the lesson, packed with all of the information they need.

If you know that you might have to cover the class for several lessons, this can help to show the various tasks that the pupils have undertaken, enabling the supply teacher to track progress too.

A watch

Not all primary classrooms have clocks and having a watch means you can structure the pace of lessons effectively, ensuring that all tasks are completed in the time you have.

This also helps if you’re asked to complete tasks outside the classroom, as knowing lesson timings can also enable you to use appropriate behaviour management techniques.

A musical instrument

If you need to get the attention of the class and don’t know the school’s particular policy, using an instrument can help do just that.

It should enhance your ability as a supply teacher to control the class and to ensure that tasks are done in sufficient time.

Something to fill time

Cover work may have been set by the previous primary teacher, but the children may complete all of the tasks with time left in the lesson.

In these instances, you’ll be expected to fill that time effectively, so it can help to have an idea of what to do – be it a fun storybook, drawing class or even an emergency lesson plan accessed online!

All of these items should enable those in supply teaching jobs to showcase their skills and abilities, making it more likely that a school might request their services again in future.

You can view all of our jobs here or alternatively you can submit your CV - your local education recruitment consultant will get in touch with you shortly.