Category: Sugarman Education News

My Teacher Training Diary – Part 2

In my career as a lawyer, I stood in front of many-a-judge in a Courtroom. As daunting as that may seem, for many, standing in front of 30 five-year-olds with their faces all looking up at you hanging on your every word is a much scarier prospect. However, this week, I did it! In this month’s blog, I talk in more depth about my school and training experience.

In recent weeks, I have spent much more time in my “home school”. This is the place where you spend most of your time on a School Direct course. At the moment, I spend three days a week in school, but this will increase as the year progresses. After Christmas, I spend 6 weeks in my “away school” – a contrasting placement at a different school and in a different Key Stage. As I am currently based in Year 1, I will be placed in KS2 (Years 3 – 6) at my away school. This all works slightly differently for students who are on a university-led or salaried route, and you need to do your research to find which course is going to be the best fit for you.


New Beginnings

Right from the moment I came into my home school, I knew I was going to be able to thrive here. All the staff have been so supportive and all the children have been so welcoming. I have a mentor at my home school who supports me in the teaching aspect of my teacher training course. I spend my time in school in my mentor’s class and gradually build up my teaching time throughout the year. Everyone on a teacher training course will have a mentor to provide support and guidance. They will assist with planning, help you to develop your teaching practice and carry out your observations.

As noted above, I am currently based in a Year 1 classroom with 30 five- and six-year-olds. I had so many worries about meeting my class: I was worried about being a new face in school; building relationships with the children; being able to remember all of the children’s names and how I was possibly going to be able to keep my eye on so many of them all at once! However, within a few days, I did settle in – I’m very lucky that the children at my home school are so kind, polite and hardworking and they welcomed me in wonderfully.

During my time in the classroom, I have done a wide variety of activities. In the first few weeks, I spent time observing lessons, helping children with their work, marking, helping with LSA/TA support and creating displays (to name just a few!). I have loved being thrown straight into the classroom and getting involved. I am treated as if I were a member of staff. I attend briefings and staff meetings, I have PPA time, I escort the children out to their parents/carers at the end of the day. This is all fantastic hands-on experience for when I eventually have my class as an ECT (Early Career Teacher).


Alongside my time in school, I undertake training every week. We spend one day per week at university engaging with lectures and seminars. We discuss a variety of aspects of the key knowledge required for becoming a teacher including safeguarding, behaviour management and planning. We focus on how our training links to the Teachers’ Standards – these are standards all teachers and trainee teachers are expected to meet. I would suggest you have a look at them online as they are something you will become very familiar with once you begin your teacher training course.

We also have training with our School Direct cohort, usually once per week. These sessions cover a wide variety of subject areas including assessment, well-being, effective deployment of support staff, outdoor learning and so much more. We also have what is called “subject knowledge” training with our School Direct provider whereby we have sessions on the curriculum content to develop our knowledge across all of the subjects we teach. Enhancing your knowledge of the areas contained within the national curriculum is vital for becoming the best teacher you can be and the great thing about primary teaching is that we cover every subject area, so we are constantly learning new things which is something I have enjoyed.

“It’s never too early to get started!”

To get ahead, I would strongly recommend you have a read of the national curriculum. Have a look at the different programmes of study and assess your strengths and weaknesses. Are there any areas within which you can begin to develop your subject knowledge? If so, it’s never too early to get started! Keep a written log of all the subject-knowledge development you have been working on by making a note of resources you have accessed online, or books that you have read. This is also something you’ll be able to talk about in any interviews you have for your teacher training course, whichever route you decide to take.

Both the training at university and training with our School Direct provider gradually decreases throughout the year as we take up more teaching time. This month, I have now officially started teaching my class! I now plan, deliver and get observed teaching different lessons across the course of the week. My experience so far has been amazing so don’t forget to come back next month where I will be talking more about my teaching experience so far!

In the meantime, if you would like to follow my teacher training journey and get more insight into the things I’ve been up to, follow me on Twitter at @BAFTeacher.


If you would like to find out more about the opportunities we have for new teachers, check out our latest vacancies on our job page here.


November CPD courses announced

We have three brand-new CPD courses in November for Teachers and Teaching Assistants. These are as follows:

Christmas Literacy for Y1 – Y7 supply staff
A one-off literacy- based lesson for the Christmas period.
Tuesday 16th November 6.30pm – 8pm

Leading Learning in a Specialist Provision
This session will provide practical tips around supporting and developing learning in a specialist provision. Participants will look at core principles around what is needed to be well prepared for working within such an environment.
Thursday 18th November 5pm – 6pm // Thursday 25th November 6.30pm – 7.30pm

A Briefing for supply staff
Keeping abreast of local and national priorities and the implications for supply staff. This will include updates on the latest inspection frameworks, phonics and reading requirements.
Wednesday 1st December 4.30pm – 5.30pm


In addition to the above exclusive training sessions, Best Trust is also offering Sugarman Education candidates a place on additional training sessions they are organising for education professionals.

Fluency in Reading: A three-week unit of work for Y2/ Y3/Y4
Suitable for Teaching and support staff in Years 2, 3, 4 and 1:1 tutors.    
This session will consider the development of reading fluency as a support for reading comprehension.
Tuesday 9th November 4pm – 5.45pm

Spooky Stories
A short, dynamic and exciting unit of work, including a wealth of differentiated resources, media and IT, to develop reading through to writing for teachers in Year 5 / 6.
Wednesday 10th November 1.30pm – 3.30pm

Get in touch with our friendly recruitment consultants today to find out more about the support we offer and take advantage of the new CPD programme by clicking here.


Life as a SEN teaching assistant – Halim

Working in education isn’t always the career path some people aspire to work in from a young age, but the desire to inspire young people and help shape someone’s future can ultimately lead you to the profession.

This is the case for Hamil, a Teaching Assistant who has worked in the education sector with Sugarman Education for the last two years. Having previously worked with children in other roles, it was a friend who suggested supply teaching maybe for him.

He said: “My last job was in marketing and did some sports coaching on the side. I enjoyed working with young people and decided it was something I wanted to do more of in my career.

“My previous roles have been very different to teaching, but my experience in coaching sort of pushed me towards that.”

Hamil has found long term work with Sugarman Education and has worked specifically in SEN schools, something which was a new challenge for him.

“It was really eye-opening for me. I’ve never worked with SEN children, but here you get an insight into their lives, what they are going through back at home and even the difficulties they have with their parents.”

“Each child is special in their own way”

Working with several different after school sports teams, Hamil has experienced working with children of all ages and abilities, some from the age of 3. This has given him the chance to be adaptable and appreciate the individualities of those he supports, both in and out of the classroom. 

“Each child is special in their own way. SEN children have lots of similarities to mainstream children but can’t express themselves as well, which can be challenging.

“I think SEN pupils are a lot more visual than mainstream pupils. One girl in my class is so artistic. She can see a picture once and draw it perfectly from memory. Another young boy has the most amazing memory, I sometimes worry about telling him too much, because he remembers everything!”

SEN lessons can be extremely different from those in a mainstream school. Keeping the children focused and engaged can be a big task, but Hamil has found that using exercise to keep the class alert and energised can really boost their productivity. 

Bringing out the best in the pupils

“Demonstrations and active lessons are key to getting the best out of the pupils. We have a stretching class every morning to prepare them for the day. 

“One child cannot extend his arms fully and doesn’t have a great range of motion. I handed him a small ball and turning his focus elsewhere, he can manage that extension and can keep up with the rest of the class.” 

To this day, Hamil is still in contact with a teacher from his school days, who he recalls made a real impact in his lessons and made time for each pupil. 

“My Primary School teacher, Mr Hunt, was helpful. He was relatable to the young ones and would listen to our music and tell us jokes. He was a PE teacher, so we always talked about football. I’m still in contact with him today and I help him with his after-school clubs and sports coaching.” 

Why supply teaching?

When asking Hamil if he would recommend supply teaching to others, he speaks of the flexibility of the role and how it fits around his lifestyle, along with the development opportunities that come with each role.

“I would say just take the risk. The hours are great. I get to finish quite early, so I can still take part in my coaching sessions. The staff are supportive and there are always new things to learn.

“My goal is to be a PE teacher in the future or work in a behaviour management role, something that is currently available in the school I am in now. I have a great relationship with the school and appreciate the support they continue to give me.”

For more details about the opportunities we have available, please check out our latest vacancies here


Interview Tips for Teachers

Two teachers sat at table talking

This is the time to show your potential employer that you’re perfect for the role and can conduct yourself in a confident and professional manner. Interviews can be nerve wracking and intimidating, so you need to make sure you are prepared for every question and any tricky situations that may come your way.

We have put together some top tips to help you through this process:

Research the school

This information will help you to show that you are genuinely interested in their school and form some questions to ask them. You may be asked what challenges you perceive the school may have, what its’ strengths are and how you could contribute to moving the school forward. Read their OFSTED report, or maybe check the latest exam results to provide your own ideas on where they can improve.
Be sure to read over the job description again carefully and check that you have clear examples of what they are looking for. Take this time to list all of your achievements and current experiences so you can incorporate them into your answers.

Prepare for common interview questions

Many of the questions that are used at interview are quite standard. By preparing your responses you can sound much more confident. Remember to keep these responses simple with a clear and detailed response, along with what your areas are for development. Add your own personality to your answers and sell yourself as to why you are the perfect candidate! We have listed some examples below:

  • Name an achievement that you are proud of?
  • Explain what inspired you to become a teacher.
  • Name a professional book you have read and how it impacted on your practice.
  • Describe what you think your safeguarding responsibilities will be?

Try your best to maintain a structure to your answers so that you don’t go off track or start to waffle. A great learning tool is the STAR method, which enables you provide a problem and a solution to the question

  • Situation – think of a specific situation where their question would have applied.
  • Task – what was your responsibility in this situation?
  • Activity – what did you actually do?
  • Result – what was the positive impact of your actions?

Don’t Over-prepare

Part of the interview process will most likely involving teaching a lesson at the school you are applying for. Try not to overthink the lesson plan. Have a structure in mind with a key objective, but don’t try to cover everything. Focus on a topic that you are interested in so you can show enthusiasm and keep the children engaged for longer. Be sure to include lots of interactive learning and ask your students plenty of questions.

Ask the employer questions too!

The person interviewing you will always ask if you have any questions for them. If you do not have anything prepared, it can show that you are uninterested and have no drive for the role. Perhaps ask what support you will receive when you start the role, or what room there is for progression within the school? Don’t be afraid to put them on the spot, it shows willingness and a desire to succeed.

Dress to impress!

First impressions are everything! Be sure to dress smart, be aware of your body language, smile and try to look relaxed. A firm handshake and eye contact when you meet the panel and answer questions can make a good initial impression. Let your personality shine through! The clarity of your speech is very important and you should always try to sound positive and enthusiastic.

If you would like to hear more about how we can help you find your perfect role, get in touch with one of friendly recruitment consultants now!

Good Luck!


Career progression within recruitment – Sophy’s story

Recruitment Consultant graduating from university

There are always opportunities just around the corner and little did Sophy know that working in a factory whilst studying at university, was the start of a very successful career in recruitment.

After she graduated with a BA Hons Degree in English, Sophy joined the temporary staffing agency that supplied workers to the factory and helped with registering candidates and taking bookings – this is when she found out what recruitment was all about and she soon ‘got the bug’.

Where it all began

Sophy enrolled on a graduate programme at an education recruitment agency. There she ran a very successful Coventry & Warwickshire desk and soon progressed from Trainee to Senior Recruitment Consultant. Despite this success, Sophy had always wanted to progress to a management role. This is when she joined Monarch Education, as part of Affinity Workforce, and made her mark in the sector.

“I was looking for training and development jobs within recruitment as I wanted to move into management. When I went for the interview at Monarch, I was honest about my ambitions and how I wanted to progress and this is something that they offered me,” explained Sophy.

It was with Monarch Education that she continued to develop, taking on a Team Leader role. Within 6 months Sophy continued to impress and make her mark within the company. She was promoted to oversee two other teams before then taking on the role of Divisional Manager. Now she takes on the role of Divisional Operations Manager of Affinity Workforce Solutions (AWS), part of the management team supporting Monarch Education & Sugarman Education – a role she was promoted to whilst she was on maternity leave.

“I think to be given this opportunity whilst on maternity leave, shows how committed the company is to giving women the opportunity to progress and develop. The AWS SLT is made up of predominantly women which just shows the sign of the times and represents well in the market.”

As part of her new role, Sophy oversees the quality of service across Sugarman Education and Monarch Education as well as the managed service provision with Multi-Academy Trusts.

Reaping the rewards

Reflecting on the 5 past years at AWS, Sophy said: “I do owe a lot to the CEO, Esme who has supported me throughout my time here so far. If you work hard, you will reap the rewards and I am a prime example of that. I have learnt so much, developed my skills and I have achieved my goals. I work with an amazing bunch of people who I can continue to learn from.”

Sophy’s passions lie not only in recruitment but with the development of staff. She loves nothing more than to see individuals progress into different roles.

“There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing the people you have managed and mentored be successful, achieve their goals and develop their careers. Keely, who I managed when I joined Monarch, is now one of our prestigious ‘Double Monarch Millionaires’. She has done fantastically well and continues to do a great job.”

The qualities of a Recruitment Consultant

Sophy knows better than anyone the qualities you need to be a successful Recruitment Consultant. As well as being chatty and having the drive and passion to be successful, she also believes you have to be compassionate.

“You have to love working with people to be in recruitment, but you also need to have compassion to be successful in the sector. You need to be able to listen to your candidates, care for them and put their needs above anything else.

“I remember working with an NQT who was nervous before an interview to secure a permanent position in a school where she has covered staff sickness. I arranged for one of our experienced candidates to prepare her for the interview. She rang me in tears because she had been offered the job and was so grateful I had arranged the session. That phone call will honestly stay with me for the rest of my life. This is why we do what we do.”

Going above and beyond for the candidates is something Sophy has always instilled in her teams and she wants to continue to encourage this ethos as part of the training and development of our consultants. Sophy is currently recruiting for Recruitment Consultants across Monarch and Sugarman Education and she is keen to inspire others to the sector.

“For me, you don’t need experience within the sector to join our teams, you need to be passionate, determined and eager. This could be the start of a great career in recruitment; the opportunities are there to make their mark in the company. We offer extensive training and support so you can develop.”

If you are interested in joining our Recruitment Teams? Take a look at our vacancies here.


Former candidate discusses the importance of Black History in schools

Making black history topics relatable for the youth of today is something that Adam feels is crucial to engaging the class and making history enjoyable. He has used various teaching methods to allow students to question culture and relate events to their lives today.

“In my last few schools, I have dedicated an entire day to different historical events, such as Holocaust Memorial Day. The students responded with curiosity, and it gave them the chance to ask pertinent questions and make contemporary links and ask ‘What is the impact of that today? How can we move forward?’

“It can be challenging to engage students when faced with complex and sensitive questions. You need to ensure that the subject matter can be engaging and come alive; one way of establishing this in schools could be to make further connections within the community to those who may have a story to share of their ancestors and how they settled here. If you have the human connection, the students will pick up on that and feel personally involved with the narrative.  It is more uplifting and stimulating if students can relate to a person, rather than seeing information in a textbook; stories can really capture the mind.”

As Head of Humanities in a school in Switzerland, Adam explains the training methods that he that has put in place for NQT’s or less inexperienced colleagues that are looking to approach the topic of black history. The school assists and supports new members of the team by linking them with more experienced and established teaching colleagues.

“When new teachers arrive from other cultures or begin teaching a new unit relating to topics of a sensitive nature, it is essential to coach and advise them on ways of communicating them with students and the wider community; and within their historical context.”

“It’s important to stress that outside school you cannot always use certain words. Some teachers may forget and use the terms loosely which can be dangerous and offensive. Within international education we have colleagues coming in from all over the world, so they may not always be culturally conscious of their new environment.

Reaching out to the school body and requesting fact sheets, or having a conversation with other teachers, is something that Adam encourages to support those who are uncertain on the correct context of the subject and are unfamiliar with today’s language surrounding Black History.

“There are not a great deal of resources for teachers associated with Black History and therefore, it is essential that education establishments begin to build up resources to encourage schools to plan and develop modules relating to it.  This can only be beneficial for raising awareness within the UK and break the culture of intolerance that we unfortunately see within our society, such as the booing of England football players taking the knee at the previous Euro Football tournament”.

“In order to see tangible cultural change and understanding of Black history, it is essential that   exam boards expand options and plant seeds from an early age, so students are encouraged to study these topics further in the future. We need more options, and some units must be made compulsory to help create awareness of our ancestry and evolving British culture.”

When touching on the recent events of racist abuse through sport and the media over recent years, Adam discusses how his school tackles the topic of racial abuse today.

“During Homeroom sessions we aim to invite external speakers to come in to talk about hate crime and verbal racist abuse and how to deal with these issues; this generates such valuable discussions in the classroom. Students relate to these issues and explore them further within the theatre of Humanities lessons; through further dialogue and discussion, students are able to make connections between the struggles that black people endured, and the legacy of racism that exists today in light of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) campaigns these past few years.”

You can find out more about our celebration of Black History on our blog page


Black History Month – Lavinya Stennett

Lavinya Stennett is the young founder of The Black Curriculum, an organisation which is on a mission to help revamp the education system and ensure that black history is taught in all schools.

Growing up in South London, Lavinya attended schools that did not teach black history, something that she felt was important for students of all cultures to learn. After graduating in New Zealand, she promised herself that she would be part of the change when she returned home.

In 2019, she was awarded ‘Student Activist of the year’ in the School of Oriental and African Studies, after campaigning to help students from ethnic backgrounds obtain bursaries for university that they had missed out on. The campaign was a success and all 92 students received their money.

At the age of 23, Lavinya has a team of people who regularly attend school and workshops with children, while providing teachers and schools with vital resources about ways they can introduce black history into their lessons. They single handedly contact schools and offer their presentations to anyone that is interested and have received an overwhelmingly response so far.

Their campaign #TBH365 (Teach Black History, all year round) has reached the government and allowed them to meet with the education secretary to discuss the changes to the curriculum. Lavinya claims that they were very supportive, but that there is some way to go before changes are made.

Lavinya hopes that the recent Black Lives Matter protests will help push for long-term, sustainable change around Black history education in the future.


Shaping a future – Sam

“Even a small step is a big step in our eyes”

Those are the words of Sam, a Learning Support Assistant with over 15 years’ experience in the education sector, specialising in SEN schools. 

Sam’s passion for helping others is clear to see when we spoke to her about her previous experiences, working in hospitals, as a home care worker and even working with young children on a cruise ship. 

She said: “In college I did a BTEC in caring. One placement I had was in a special needs school, which is where I found my love for the sector. My last role was on a cruise ship, which stopped due to covid. I knew that schools would need SEN support during this time, so decided to go down the agency route to find a school.

Sam shares her time between various caring roles, which is why the flexibility of a supply role is perfect for her and fits around her lifestyle.

“I’m a private care worker for a little boy and I also work at a special needs playground during the holidays, so the school holidays work well for me. Family holidays are easier too when you can choose your working weeks.”

Due to her wealth of knowledge in care, Sam has been able to transfer many skills into her teaching style today, adapting her approach based on each individual that she works with.

She explains: “It’s about being patient and understanding. People might not understand that children in an SEN school can’t communicate like you would expect them to, so you have to look out for those signs. It could just be a look in their eye and that’s their ‘Yes’.

“It doesn’t come naturally, you need to learn that. Communication is what I have brought with me from other roles, being generally caring and having a calming effect.”

Sam has been registered with Sugarman Education since last November and has had consistent work ever since. Being in a long term placement, she has been able to build relationships with both staff and pupils and she shares her feelings on seeing those children develop and reach important milestones.

“In September we had 3 children come from mainstream schools. It’s very different here and we have a lot of structure. One child had one-on-one help in mainstream school and was always removed from class because he was upset or frustrated. 

We can deal with that behaviour and have already seen a huge change in him. The key is not to use too much language. We have a visual schedule and he can already recognise what task is next. It’s great to see him pick it up.”

When discussing how working in an SEN school can help shape a child’s future, Sam discusses how she has seen children develop just by completing everyday tasks and how being patient and observing their behaviour is key to communicating with them. 

She explains: “Someone putting a bag on their own peg can be a big thing for them. People will do it for them for ease, but they need to learn life skills. Simple things like dressing themselves, being independent. You’re not always focused on the teaching.

“No two children are the same, so don’t have any expectations of them. Five minutes of work is an achievement for them. If it takes them 10 minutes, then wait. Use your initiative. They can’t communicate while they are upset, so you need to pick up on that.”

From a young age, Sam was keen to help others. Her dream job was to be a vet, but after becoming an auntie at the age of 10, she knew that she wanted to work with children. 

“From then on, I liked helping kids. When I studied health and social care in secondary school, my teacher was really encouraging and pushed me towards that career.”

When asking Sam why she would recommend working in a supply role, there were many reasons why she would suggest this career path to others, as well as the service that she has received from Sugarman Education. 

“If you’re not sure if this is for you, supply is a great way to try it without being in a fixed contract. You may have only worked in mainstream schools and want to experience a week in an SEN school.

“Sugarman Education is really on the ball. They were considerate and took into account what I wanted, not what they needed. They matched me to the right role and they still check in with me now, even on a long-term placement.”


If you would like to hear more about the vacancies we have available. Get in touch today


Black History Month – Former candidate discusses the curriculum

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests and the events that took place in the Euros football tournament, campaigners have been fighting more than ever for the teaching of black history to be made mandatory for all pupils in schools across England. Making this topic a permanent fixture within the school curriculum will educate the younger generation on the contributions of black people within UK history and how this has impacted the way we live today.

As part of our Black History Month campaign, we spoke to a former candidate, Adam Seymour, a history teacher whose passion and experience in black history has allowed him to expand the minds of his pupils, incorporating the topic into his lessons and reflecting on why black history should be a key focus in schools.

Adam began teaching in 2008. Black history was included to a certain degree during his teacher training.

He said: “As far as teaching in UK schools, Black History was marginal.  It was celebrated, but in terms of teaching it within history, there was not a huge emphasis. We taught the Black Peoples of America’s slave journey and integration. However, after year 9, there are only around 11 % of GCSE modules linked to or that even reference black history.”

After studying history at university, Adam has a wealth of knowledge around black history and has the confidence from his previous schools to be given the freedom to integrate and establish a curriculum which is diverse and rich and has included a multitude of units aimed at understanding minority cultures.

“There are core modules that Schools need to cover and complete as a teacher.  However, in relation to Key Stages 3, you do have a great degree of flexibility. It’s up to the Head of History to make a conscious decision as to which units are taught and can be also aligned with your area of expertise or specialism. I did my degree in History and my final thesis was on the impact both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King had on Civil Rights in the USA. Using my specialism, I find a way to incorporate my expertise and knowledge into my curriculum design and make it differentiated and accessible for all age groups.”

As well as black history being taught in a limited way in schools, Adam highlights that we are also missing the opportunity to learn about other minority groups. With such culturally diverse schools across the UK, there are significant events in history such as the British Empire that link to other cultures and countries which are scarcely discussed within the History curriculum.  For example, whilst the British Empire is explored from an Anglo-centric perspective, it fails to illuminate the impact that Indian culture has had on the UK because of British rule.

He adds: “We need to identify and explore other historical topics and cultures to expand upon black history for all cultures. There is a huge focus on the USA, which I think is important, and we need to learn about figures such as Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Emancipation Proclamation. However, there is a big gap in UK black history; there seems to be a lack of ingrained units which shed light upon, explore British black history. We should embed and legislate to make these units compulsory modules.”


Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of Adam’s interview


Black History Month – Gus John

Gus John is an education campaigner, author and was the first black Director of Education in Britain in 1989. Since the 1960s, he has spent his entire career campaigning against racial discrimination and issues within the education sector in Britain’s inner cities.

Born in Grenada, he moved to the UK to study at Oxford, where his passion for education and youth development came alive.

Gus became a community activist and worked with youth groups in Manchester, campaigning for issues such as employment opportunities for black school leavers.

In his long and successful career, Gus has been a member of numerous teaching unions and education authorities and has worked as an education consultant across the world, fighting for equality and justice, whilst empowering young people.

In 1999, Gus John co-founded the Communities Empowerment Network (CEN), a charitable organisation providing representation for excluded school students and their parents/carers.

In the same year, Gus was offered a CBE in the New Year Honours list but declined. He explained at the time that his career in the UK had always been about the struggle for racial equality and social justice. One of the major stumbling blocks of promoting racial equality is the legacy of the British Empire, therefore he believed it a serious dishonour to be a Commander of the institution he had tried to demolish.

2020 saw Gus voted as one of the ‘100 Great Black Britons’.