A Day in the Life of a Supplementary Provision Educator: Part 1

Alison is a busy lady.  She worked as a maths teacher for over a decade but after her maternity leave ended, she decided that full-time teaching might not be for her and wanted a more flexible way to teach.  Alison decided to become a Supplementary Provision educator with Fleet as the hours enabled her to spend more time with her young daughter.  This two-part blog showcases a typical day providing supplementary tuition to school pupils.  Could you be a Supplementary Provision educator with us? Click here to begin your application: https://bit.ly/463q8iU


Alison explains, “At the moment, I work in two schools in Kent. For one school, I am covering Year 10, and in the other school, I’m covering Years 7 to 11. I also tutor two online classes a week. I work four days a week, and the flexible hours enable me to spend time with my daughter. And keep on top of the house!”  Her typical day looks like this: 



8.10 am My alarm goes off. I let my second alarm go off at 8.25 am before picking up my phone, scrolling through Google News, and checking the weather app. 

8.45 I take the dog for a walk and stop by the corner shop to pick up a newspaper. I read news online, but if it is a Tuesday or Friday when The Guardian or The Times have their education supplement, I pick it up to read over my morning coffee. I like to stay up-to-date with what is going on in education. 

9:05 I arrive home, have a bowl of cereal and coffee, and read the education supplement. I’m drawn to an interesting article about how the government has announced plans to remove barriers to part-time teaching and reduce the workloads that are cited as a reason why teachers quit. It’s one of the reasons why I left teaching for tutoring, and I’ve not looked back!

9:40 Once a week, I go to yoga in our village hall. It’s a five-minute walk. This was something I never used to be able to do during the daytime as a teacher. And with the knowledge that my daughter was safely dropped off at school earlier, I can take the next 50 minutes to myself!

10.50 I arrive home, shower and get ready for my first tutoring session, which is online. My timetable varies. Today I have four lessons, which include online, small groups, and one-on-one. I prepared all the lessons yesterday. I always plan ahead and design bespoke materials for pupils to match their learning styles or requests from their schools. I subscribe to a couple of sites to help manage my workload regarding lesson planning. All the pupils that I tutor follow the National Curriculum for KS2, KS3, and KS4. But I can design bespoke learning plans for catch-up owing to my experience as a qualified teacher.

Tutoring and teaching are used interchangeably, but teaching and tutoring involve many more differences than you might think. Both help pupils reach their full potential while providing encouragement and support. Being a supplementary provision educator means that I can give pupils individual attention that they won’t get in a classroom. For disadvantaged pupils who would not otherwise be able to afford private tutoring, this effective intervention can play a big role in raising attainment.

In 2022, the attainment gaps at primary and secondary levels were at their widest for a decade, according to the Department for Education (DfE). I see tutoring as a way to help close the gap.

11.10 I log on a few minutes early, but I’ve never experienced any technical issues. I got used to online delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic. As long as you make sure you look into the camera and are engaged, the sessions run well. A benefit of online is being able to access the internet, so at times, it can make lessons fun, especially if the lesson links to facts, or theories, which could be aided by resources on Google.

11.15 I spend the first few minutes building up a rapport with the pupil. I’ve worked with them for several weeks now. With one-to-one tutoring, you need to build a good relationship and be able to relate to them socially, as you are going to be spending a fair amount of time together. You need to be prepared for small talk! I ask them how their day has been so far and if they had a good weekend. Today, “I ask how their hobbies are going.” I know the pupil is a keen footballer and likes boxing. Getting them to talk will build rapport and make things flow better. It makes things a bit less monotonous and is a good segue into the lesson.

11.20 How tall is an average man? comes up in our maths class, so I Google this and share my screen to show comparisons with other objects to get the message across. We have a productive session, and as my learner is a visual learner, these examples work well. This pupil has a teaching assistant who dials into the session to assist, so I have to plan for them to be involved too.

As a supplementary provision educator, you have to know and assess your pupils. Resources might need to be in colour. Sometimes you have to follow the specifications of the Head of Year, SENDCO, or the School. There are 14 different types of differentiation.

12.15 The lesson finishes at 12.15 on the dot. The pupil is keen for their lunchtime, and I am too!



12.20 After eating, I get ready for my next lesson. I ensure I have everything in my work bag. Some tutees have special educational needs; I always carry some fidget toys and coloured pens.

12.40 The school is an eight-minute drive from my house. I could even walk, which I do in the summer, but I have another lesson at a different school afterwards, so at the moment I am driving. When I arrive at the school, I go straight to the classroom to set up. I only have five in this supplementary provision class. I don’t know how I coped with 30 when I was a teacher!

12:50 For all the schools I tutor at, I have been given their yearly plan of work. It means that I know what they are doing in class and what to focus on for lessons. Before the lessons, I will have a quick look at my textbooks and the school’s textbooks. For this session, I have already searched for relevant worksheets online so that I have good-quality questions for the pupils to work through. I use the staffroom printer to print the worksheets that are needed.

1 pm I tend to use examples in my books, so I write them on the board as the pupils arrive. Today is a year 10 maths class straight after their lunch break! When tutoring students in Years 10 and 11, the pace of the lesson is typically faster due to their maturity and a bit more expertise in what they have covered. Therefore, with these lessons, we are trying to gear them up for exam-level questions. You need to set the tone of the session, and we have a lot of ground to cover this term.

1.05 When you are tutoring a group, there is more focus on being a leader, especially in a group of five. Sometimes you need to manage behaviour. In some cases where behaviour is a problem, you might say you will speak to their head of year, or face detention if they carry on once warned. I have two boys in the class who have ADHD, so I used my knowledge to try to keep them engaged.

Generally, for neurodiverse pupils, I ensure they do not sit near heaters, doors, windows, or other distractions. High levels of traffic or background noise can be a problem. I have to ensure pupils do not distract others and do not let them talk over me if they are trying to be loud. I’m fortunate, as I’m an experienced SEND teacher and worked as a senior teacher, so my experience comes into play in these situations.

1.20 I make any directions clear and concise and ensure the whole group understands the instructions before starting the tasks I have planned. It is good to break down assignments into manageable chunks for all groups, not just special educational needs (SEN) pupils. 

1.35 With the session underway, I make sure all the pupils are engaging and try to give them equal attention in terms of help. As these learners find maths difficult, project work is always good.

1.45 For group sessions, I include shorter activities to ensure everyone is paying attention and engaged throughout. This includes a group discussion.

Occasionally, the learners might need to work on other things not in the scheme of work, e.g., for end-of-term tests or if their teachers have been teaching something different. In these cases, though, I‘m still prepared with my knowledge of my textbooks, and as a former teacher, I’m confident. I can find relevant questions or worksheets online quickly, print them up, or write them on the whiteboard. You have to be flexible at times and be confident you can produce a good-quality lesson on anything asked! 

2 pm I always set homework, even if it is just revision. The pupils moan, but that is standard! The bell rings, and it is break time. The school has set me up with tea and coffee in the staff room and always make the supplementary provision educators feel welcome, so I can socialise during our breaks. I’m at this school twice a week. I speak to Belinda, who is a maths teacher, and our daughters are the same age. I’ve got to know a few teachers and teaching assistants this term, so it feels like home!

To be continued…