Supply teachers face unique difficulties with regards to safeguarding and being falsely accused. Working in a supply role often means that teachers don’t have much opportunity to establish a professional relationship with the children in their classroom, and as a result of this, everything from their sense of humour to the topics they discuss can suffer an extra layer of scrutiny.
In order to protect themselves from false accusations, supply teachers should take extra care to ensure that they communicate with students professionally and never let themselves veer off into tricky territory.
Children can be persistent when they’re trying to ‘test’ a supply teacher. You might get asked questions about your personal life and your work outside of school that you don’t feel comfortable answering. Try not to be persuaded to reveal any information that you wouldn’t normally be comfortable sharing with students. You are entitled to your privacy, and even if it feels tempting to talk more about your private life in order to build rapport with students, keep in mind that this can quickly lead into uncomfortable territory.
Likewise, it is important not to act overly familiar with the students you are teaching. It is great to know the nicknames other students might have for them, and to know the things that make them laugh or get them engaged with learning, but when it comes to using these nicknames and joking around, be wary that this type of behaviour could be considered unusual and overfriendly, or could be misinterpreted completely and make a student feel uncomfortable.
This is particularly relevant for secondary-aged students.
You never know who might be listening, or how a question might be perceived by another person, so always try to guide the focus onto alternative topics of conversation, ones that are relevant to the subject you have been brought in to teach.
It is a great idea to familiarise yourself with the school’s safeguarding policy and to know the name and contact details of the Designated Safeguarding Lead Person. This way, if a safeguarding incident arises or a child makes a disclosure to you, you’ll be able to report your concerns directly to them. The Designated Safeguarding Lead Person may have a bigger perspective on each child’s individual circumstances, which you are unlikely to know immediately upon arriving in a new school, so it is always best to refer incidents straight to the correct member of staff.
Bear in mind that safeguarding training is an important feature of the school environment, and it is something you should take extreme care to always be up to date with. Our selection of online safeguarding courses cover all the essential topics, including child protection, Prevent Duty, online safety, and many more. You can train with us at any time. Our courses take between 1 to 2 hours to complete and a verifiable safeguarding certificate is available to download immediately upon successful completion.