There is a lot of subbing available at the moment and many schools (my own included) is finding it very difficult to get substitute teachers so if you have a teaching council number (which you need to get paid by the department) here are some tips and ideas for subbing!

Visit the schools in your local area

Principals like to meet with potential substitute teachers – it is great to be able to put a face to a name. Many schools could receive 10-15 CV’s per week. Drop in to the school and ask to see the principal (this may not always be possible) but it’s also good to build up a relationship with the school secretary!

In my opinion, the best time to visit is between little break and lunch time or else after school. Morning time is often hectic in schools as is the end of the school day and the principal will more than likely not be available.

Bring a copy of your CV (and a business card – homemade works perfectly) with key details. You can read more about this here.

Getting a call

Try to have an appropriate voicemail as inevitably you will miss a call for subbing. ‘Hi you’ve reached X’s voicemail. Please leave your name and number and I’ll get back to you.’ is perfect.

Make sure to get back to the school as soon as you can.

If you are available;

  • Double check the date
  • Ask about opening times (what time you should arrive)
  • Ask about the class level (so you can have some things prepared)
  • Ask if there is parking available

If you are not available

  • Thank the school for considering you
  • If you have secured a job/ long term subbing let the school know so they can remove you from their list!

What to bring

These are some of the key things that spring to mind…

  • Statutory declaration and Garda vetting
  • Stationery – pens/pencils and whiteboard markers
  • Labels- for the childrens names – great to quickly learn the names in a new class
  • Whistle – in case it’s a P.E. day
  • Book – might be nice for some read aloud at the end of the day – especially for a younger class
  • Memory stick – variety of resources for different class levels.
  • Paper – to write down what you covered for the class teacher.

What to do

Beginning: Introduce yourself and do a quick run through of the rules/ expectations. Correct the homework from the night before (This will give you a chance to see what topics are being covered in Maths/English/Irish and make a quick plan on what to do next.

If the teacher has left work – try to get this completed first.

Here are some ideas for some subjects that don’t require too many resources!


Poetry is a great lesson. Try a Haiku/Kenning. Write a poem as a class and then get the children to work in pairs to brainstorm a topic and write a poem together.


Look at what has been covered already. I love the ‘Mad 4 Maths’ books. The children can work independently to complete the problems. The books are about 6 euro each and you could easily write the problems on the board for the children to complete in their copies.

Problem solving/questions based on a unit that has already been covered is great for revision!


Robó is a fantastic resource! You can choose the theme that the class are covering, read a story together (with pictures) and then complete listening and writing activities.


Choose a country/city and learn all about it! Complete a KWL chart/brainstorm. (Twinkl have fantastic powerpoints on many countries around the world)


Try composing. I love the idea of the graphic scores from Dabbledoo Music.


Here are some of my favourite art lessons!

Filler activities;

You can read about lots of different transition/mini break ideas here.

End of the day

  • Tidy up the classroom (to the same standard as it was in the morning!).
  • Leave a note of everything that was covered for the class teacher.
  • Correct the copies (anything that you taught!)
  • Thank the principal and the secretary.

Overall subbing is a great way to find out more about different schools in your local area – it gives you a chance to get a feel for different schools and to get different ideas from teachers in these schools. It gives you the opportunity to build up relationships and try out different settings to see which works best for you.