The Ultimate Supply Teacher Kit

7 minutes to read
ultimate supply teacher kit

Ever walked into a staff room to find there’s no spare mugs (and you’re not part of the tea bag kitty)? Or arrived at school ready to teach GCSE history and been asked to take a PE lesson instead?

At each new school, you head through the gates without knowing exactly what awaits on the other side. Is the school organised and supportive, or slightly more chaotic? And will your class be lovely, or a little more challenging? In the world of supply teaching, we know that no two days will ever really be the same. All you can do is prepare for any eventuality, as best you can.

Lots of supply teachers have told us that they keep a bag packed and ready to go, stuffed with everything they might ever need to get through a day at school – no matter what’s thrown at them. We love this idea, so have used their input to create the Ultimate Supply Teacher Kit.

The Ultimate Supply Teacher Kit is a big list of items that can help make any assignment a success. Use our list as a guide for your own kit, which should be customised for the different schools, pupils and subjects that you’re likely to find yourself teaching – and maybe throw in your favourite Margaret Attwood novel for good measure.

Once you’ve packed everything you need, keep your bag well-stocked and handy at a moment’s notice. At the end of each working day, restock any items you’ve used up and reflect on whether there’s anything that you wished you’d had at school that day, but wasn’t in your kit already.

With this bag in your car or kept near the front door, you’ll be ready for even the very latest of last-minute calls. Take a look through our Ultimate Supply Teacher Kit and start planning your own:

Ultimate supply teacher kit

1. Lesson plans and resources – be prepared in case there’s no planning left for you. Carry printouts of your favourite lessons and resources, so they’re easily accessible and ready to photocopy at school or give straight to pupils. Also, have a USB drive or resource website like Twinkl or TES Resources available as a backup. Make sure your lessons cover all age groups, subjects and abilities that you may be asked to teach.

2. Your diary – in case your recruitment consultant calls to offer you a new assignment and you need to check your schedule in a hurry. You can also use it for taking notes after each day, like the names of people you met, how the day went, what worked (or didn’t) and what lessons you taught to each class. Writing yourself small messages like a daily gratitude note may also help get each day off to a positive start.

3. A no-fuss lunch – pack something that doesn’t have to be kept chilled, like a couscous, noodles or pasta pot. These are great for last-minute assignments when you may not have time to make lunch, have no idea if there’s a supermarket near the school and don’t know if there will be facilities like a microwave or fridge. There will probably be a kettle at least, so take something that can easily be prepared.

4. Afternoon snacks and drinks – pick items with a long shelf-life to keep in your bag (you can always add things like fresh fruit before you leave in the morning). Energy drinks can give you a much-needed boost, water will keep you hydrated, and snacks like chocolate or protein bars are great for when the kids are on their break and your stomach grumbles start to get unbearable.

5. Your phone – for lining up your next assignment, checking your calendar, getting directions, accessing assignment details and any teaching apps that you’ve downloaded (maybe the odd Twitter-check too, we won’t tell!). Pack headphones too, if you listen to podcasts or music on your commute.


6. A power bank – have you ever started your day with 100% phone battery, only for it to dwindle to 75% before you get to work? We’ve all been there, but as a supply teacher it can be particularly annoying. What if your agency tries to contact you about a new job and your battery has died? Pack a power bank and recharge your phone on the go.

7. Your pencil case – just in case it makes life a little easier. Carrying some spare paper, pens, board markers, marking pens, highlighters, Post-its, a ruler and some pencils means you’ll be fine if the classroom isn’t well-stocked and it can put an end to the low-level disruption when pupils have forgotten their supplies. Remember to collect them back at the end!

8. Paracetamol – on a particularly hectic day, the last thing you need is a headache. Pop a packet of painkillers in your bag for times like this.

9. A lanyard – your school or agency will no doubt give you an ID card that you’ll have to carry with you at all times. Pack a lanyard that you can wear around your neck or attach to your belt loop to make sure you don’t lose your card (and if in a bright colour, for an instant sassy fashion statement).

10. Tea/coffee and a mug – because you never know what the drinks situation will be in schools, so bringing sachets of tea/coffee, sugar and milk (Nescafe do 2-in-1 sachets with coffee and milk), as well as your own mug, reusable cup or flask, is the only way of guaranteeing a caffeine fix.

Coffee cup to go

11. Anti-bac gel – this can be a convenient way to combat all those germs that lurk in the average classroom. Have some handy so you can use it regularly throughout the day (or if any of the kids sitting by your desk forget to cover their mouth when they sneeze).

12. Time fillers – for keeping your pupils entertained and engaged between lessons or if you’ve got a spare 15 minutes before the bell. Include things like puzzles, games, colouring books, worksheets, quizzes or your favourite story book for situations like Friday golden time. Just remember to pack different types of activities for different ages!

13. Notepad – for jotting down notes during the introductory preamble when you first arrive at school and leaving feedback for the class teacher before you leave.

14. A good book – for reading on your commute or in the staff room. A novel also makes a great conversation starter; perfect for new schools where you don’t know anyone yet.


15. Name tag stickers – struggle to learn all of your pupils’ names? Name tag stickers are a quick and easy way to jog your memory, if you’re teaching an age group who’ll be up for it!

16. Clipboard or folder – you might be given a bunch of loose paperwork when you first arrive at a school (maps of the school, timetables, etc) and this way you won’t misplace anything.

17. Rewards for good behaviour – like stickers, stamps, small prizes… whatever you find works.

18. A PE kit – including trainers, a whistle and light weatherproof jacket. Perfect for teaching outdoor athletics and softball in the wonderfully British 2°C summers and icy -5°C winters.

We’ve saved possibly the most important item ‘til last, as it’s equally important to have something waiting at home for you after a particularly stressful assignment. Getting back to the house after a long, hard day, there’s no better feeling than having a hot, relaxing bath with a bath bomb.

Phew. Go on, have a soak in the bath and relax. You’ve earned it!

Do you have any other suggestions for the Ultimate Supply Kit, or have any photos of your own kit? Tweet or email us and we’ll use them to inspire other supply teachers.