If you are reading this post and you are about to start your teacher training then take note because this could save you a small fortune in the long run.
As a trainee teacher your school may or may not provide you with all the stationary you need for your year ahead. It will really depend on the school you go to and whether you are on a paid or unpaid training course.
My advice… stock up! As soon as the shops put their ‘back to school’ offers on which is usually at the start of the summer holidays, you need to go to staples, hobbycraft or any of the supermarkets and get everything you need for the year ahead whilst it’s still on offer.
So what will you need, you ask me?
Lots of folders! Now when it comes to folders I am pretty anal. I like them to be coordinated and organised. You will also need plenty of them. I ended up with 12 folders during my training year. Don’t believe me? Here they are:
Now a lot of people told me I had done too much work and collected too much evidence to meet the teaching standards but personally I don’t think its possible to do too much! I wanted to get a 1 (outstanding) as my final grade and so I put all my efforts into achieving that even if it did mean 12 folders.
However I wouldn’t suggest you go and buy 12 folders straight up, but if they are on offer then buy at least 6 – you will always need them!
The folders I used were amazing. They are the the Staples Better Binder Folders. They are so durable and strong, exactly what you will need for the tons of paperwork that you will end up collecting. The lever arch folders have a special mechanism for clamping shut and hold all your work perfectly in place and the ring binders have 4 rings so again all of your work stays put. The best thing is they have windows on the spine where you can print your own labels and change them as and when you like.
They come in a whole range of colours and sizes and I used mainly white folders for all my teaching work, pink folders for my subject knowledge and turquoise for my exemplar standards folder. I used mainly the lever arch folders purely because of the sheer amount of work I was producing however the ring binders were also great for things such as your ‘teaching portfolio’ where you will keep everything important for teaching such as your DBS, Skills Tests, Union registration etc.
The folders can be quite pricey at £7.99 for a lever arch folder however Staples have run a number of offers throughout the year where they are on 3 for 2. I would 100% recommend these folders to anyone starting their teacher training. I plan on re-using mine for my NQT year and just transferring the work that I am unlikely to use again into different folders.
Click here to shop the collection
2. File dividers
You will 100% need at least the same amount of sets of file dividers as you have folders and let me tell you that the cheap paper ones will be useless. They will rip and you will have to buy more so to save you from that hassle in the first place I suggest plastic file dividers.
The ones I have been using are the Rexel translucent polypropylene dividers. I actually bought these in bulk from Costco so if your lucky enough to know someone with a Costco card it is worth getting down there otherwise the only other place I have found them is Amazon.
They come with a colour coded front cover and come in 5 or 10 part dividers in a range on bright colours so it’s easy to find the section you are after. As they are made from polypropylene it means they are tough, hard-wearing and cannot be torn so they are perfect to divide up the huge amount of work you will produce over the next year.
At £6.60 for 1 pack of dividers again they are quite pricey but if you get them from Costco they are much cheaper however they are definitely worth it. No more stressing out because your file dividers have torn!
For more information on the Rexel file dividers click here
If you want to purchase these from Amazon then click here
3. Punched Pockets
If I had a pound for every single punched pocket I have used during the course well I probably would have had enough money to pay for the course outright. Ok maybe that’s an extreme statement but I cannot stress enough how many punched pockets you will use, especially if your so anal about your folders like I am.
I have an AMAZING head of department who is very understanding to my need of punched pockets, he is also a massive stationary fan and has stuff stockpiled in the department so I have been very fortunate to use ALOT of his punched pockets but I did buy my own too.
On the same trip to Costco where I stocked up on file dividers, I also stocked up on punched pockets and bought 3 boxes of 200 punched pockets. Oh my they have been ever so useful!
The pockets I use are the Twinlock brand. I don’t know too much about this brand other than the fact their punched pockets are very very good.
I’m not sure what I paid for them in Costco, it wasn’t a great deal but probably a bit more than your average economy pockets. These are strong, they don’t tear, the don’t crumple so I would recommend them and you can get them from Amazon. Just click here.
Alternatively if your school have an account with Lyreco their punched pockets are also amazing!
4. Post-it notes
You will definitely need post-it notes and a whole selection too. I use them for many reasons such as making to do lists, dividing work which I have marked and still need to mark and mostly for highlighting those wonderful teachers standards on my evidence.
I made a bit of a mistake when I initially purchased post-it notes and spent over £20 on a variety of different colours to highlight the standards, I was then trimming them down to make index post-its mainly because I could not find anywhere that sold 8 different colours (to highlight the 8 teachers standards). That was until my friend and fellow trainee teacher showed me a set she bought off eBay.
This set is quite simply fantastic! It has 8 different coloured index notes as well as 4 colours of mini post-its and comes in a wonderful little faux leather holder. Sounds expensive? No. For around £3.50 you can get this fantastic set!! Amazing! 1 set should do you fine throughout your year but I ordered 3, just to be on the safe side.
There are a few sellers on eBay that sell these sets. The following link should take you to one of them. Just click here.
5. A Laminator
I have produced hundreds of my own resources over the year and thankfully I will be able to take these with me into my new school. This would not have been possible without my trusty laminator.
I bought mine from WHSmiths a few years back and it has never let me down. It was cheap as chips and as I only have an A4 one it is very easy to store.
This one costs £16.99 from WHSmiths which I think is an absolute bargain. It will definitely make your work more professional looking and defiantly more durable so that you can reuse the resources.
As it is vital that literacy is embedded into all subjects at school I have laminated a range of literacy cards which my lower ability pupils have access to when they are doing any form of written work (this is also a good way of showing differentiation).
These resources were created using PowerPoint and are printed double sided, I have then hole punched the top corner and joined them using treasury tags (another thing worth investing in).
You may not necessarily need a laminator, your school should have one but I have found that having my own at home is so useful and it is worth every penny of the £16.99 investment. Throughout your teaching career there will always be a time when the laminator needs to come out and as a trainee teacher starting out in the profession for the first time, creating all your own resources from scratch, we’ll it is so worth it!
6. Laminating Pouches
So this brings me on nicely to stationary essential number 5 – laminating pouches.
Don’t buy a pack of 10 or even 25, you have a brand new laminator you will want to play with and will now have loads of great ideas for reusable resources. Save yourself time and money in the long run and buy a box of 100.
At staples a box of 100 pouches will cost you £16 and will last plenty of time. There is not much to say on their quality, laminating pouches are laminating pouches – they do the job intended.
If you want to purchase the Staples laminating pouches then click here.
7. Pocket Wallets
You now have loads of new shiny laminated resources but you can’t store them in your Better Binder folders without punching holes in all your lovely work so where are you going to put them to keep them all nice and together?
Pocket wallets. I bought a bulk box of Snopake popper wallets that time I was in Costco, remember that? I think they are great, they come in a variety of colours and I use them all the time I have one wallet for each class I teach and each day I fill the wallet with the resources required for that lesson and off I go, I also keep my generic resources in these including my laminated work and if I am marking design work the kids have produced in A4 paper they are great to keep in all nice and flat.
To shops the range just click here.
8. The Trusty Red Pen
Some schools are very anti red pen marking, my school is not and so my red pen comes everywhere with me.
I mark all my pupils work in red pen so it is clear for them to see their marks and feedback. You never know when you will need it so I either always have my red pen in my pocket or on my lanyard just incase.
You shouldn’t need to buy any red pens, your school should have plenty. I just use a simple red biro and it does me absolutely fine!
9. Spare Pens, Pencils, Colours, Rulers, Rubbers, Sharpeners – The Lot!
If your pupils are anything like mine you are lucky if they turn up to lesson with even a pen. I find that pupils come to school very ill-equipped these days. When I was in school all of the above was mandatory so I’m not sure what has gone wrong, I know when I start my job I will at least enforce the importance of the correct stationary to my tutor group. In the meantime it’s best to just have a backup of spare stationary especially if you want them to produce good quality work for you.
I set up these pencil cases around the time I had my interview for my NQT teaching job. My mindset was that I wanted to impress during the lesson I had to teach and I didn’t want to have to ask the teacher for equipment, I wanted to show that I was organised and always planned ahead so I went to the supermarket and probably spent no more than £10 on 4 pencil cases and all of the above to fill them. There was about 4 pens and 4 pencils for pupils to write with and a range of colours to share as well as a ruler, rubber and sharpener. I then used my Dymo Letratag LT-100H to label the pencil cases to ensure they came back to me at the end of the lesson.
Again this probably isn’t an essential item of stationary to prepare you for your training year but you will need at least one pencil case filled with all the stationary for yourself! You will definitely need all of that, and maybe throw in some highlighters and board markers too.
10. A Heavy Duty Bag
You now have all this stuff but you don’t have your own classroom and possibly not even your own desk so what are you going to do with it all?
You need a large heavy duty bag – believe me!
I started off the year using the Tesco big green bag for life type things (Jute bags they are in fact called) but I slowly started wearing them out. My stuff was all far too heavy.
Fortunately I have a birthday in January and so I was extremely lucky and received this gorgeous Cath Kidston bag.
It is the most incredible bag. It fits 3 lever arch folders in and it is so strong. Not only that but it looks beautiful too. I tend to carry all my school work in there and pack my lunch in my handbag.
I don’t think it is actually available to buy any more and I did get it from the outlet in Bicester. However take a look on Cath Kidston’s website to admire some of the other amazing bags they have.
Anyway that’s all for my top 10 essential stationary items for trainee teachers, if you have any other things you can think of that I might have missed please leave them in the comments box below.