Meet Sharon Wood: Founder of National Supply Teacher Week

This week (16-22 June 2014) marks National Supply Teacher Week: a week dedicated to celebrating, recognising, and showing our support to supply teachers. As partners of the Week, World Class Teachers have already made a pledge outlining our commitment to the aims of the week.
Who better then to interview for our blog than Sharon Wood, supply teacher and founder of National Supply Teacher Week:

  1. What inspired you to start National Supply Teacher week?

In 2005, whilst on supply myself, I set up a support forum for supply teachers, and the same issues crop up now as they did back then!  For all I try and help any supply teacher who contacts me, I wanted to do something more… more long-term I suppose.

Before I started my own forum, I used to frequent another, and so for nearly 12 years now I’ve been hearing about the plight of supply teachers: all too often feeling over-looked and under-valued.
It didn’t seem enough to me any more to simply reply to each teacher who contacted me individually, it wasn’t getting anyone any further forward. I felt if nothing was done, I’d be answering the same questions, hearing the same tales, another 12 years from now.
It’s not all negative, I do hear so many success stories, and stories from supply teachers who love their teaching work, but these wins weren’t being celebrated enough either!

National Supply Teacher Week
Flickr Creative Commons / Denise Krebs

  1. Have you had a positive response?

Last year, and again this year, I have been truly humbled by the response it has received. There have been a few knock-backs along the way, which I was expecting, but that has made me even more determined to make sure that National Supply Teacher Week positively affects each and every supply teacher.

  1. What are the biggest challenges facing supply teachers in the UK?

I would say – out of school: financial uncertainty, job security (due to the vulnerable position supply teachers are in) and access to quality CPD.
In school: access to technology (please give the supply teachers passwords for the laptop!), and lack of communication from schools about specific needs of children.

  1. What makes a great supply teacher?

Enthusiasm, professionalism, keen improvisation skills, confidence and charm!

  1. Lastly, any tips you would give to supply teachers looking for their next position?

Communicate honestly and openly with your recruitment consultant.  The more they know about you, the better they can place you!  And communicate with them frequently.  Keep you in the forefront of their minds.
Not so much that you become an irritant, but enough that when the perfect appointment crops up in that fabulous school down the road from you, they’ll know who to call!
If you would like to find out more, you can follow Sharon on Twitter @SupplyTeacherUK.

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