Wednesday, 28 March 2012


Back in the 1980’s when I first began working as a Supply Teacher, life in schools was very different. You would arrive at the school and be told you had a Year 3 class and that was that. If you were lucky, there would be a note saying ‘do something about fractions’ or ‘we are studying the Tudors’ – or maybe the teacher from the class next door would say ‘I am using this worksheet after break, shall I photocopy a set for your class too?

markingAt the end of the day, Supply Staff were expected to mark all work set, and also leave a complete list of what they had done for the returning teacher. That sometimes meant staying behind ages after the bell.

In the staff room one day, another [older, more experienced] Supply Teacher said “Oh, I just put down 2.15-3.15 ECO & ECI” I was baffled – what on earth did that stand for?

She explained “It is simply Educational Cutting Out and Educational Colouring In – but in my experience, most class teachers don’t know and are embarrassed to reveal their ignorance by asking”

I confess that in the years since, I have often resorted to this device.

Nowadays there is almost always a comprehensive set of lesson plans waiting for me. But on Monday, there was no work set. I had worked with the class the previous week, and had no problems with continuing their maths and literacy in the morning– but had to find something to occupy them in the afternoon before the practice for the “Easter Service”

So we did ECO and ECI…

easter cards NL

…and made Easter Cards.

I showed them how to cut and fold a ‘stepped’ inner card [blue], and they stuck flowers inside – then they decorated the outer [pink], which I had pre-printed with the outline of ‘Easter Greetings’

[this is not my original idea- the Girl Guiding Website has a good tutorial here if you want to make similar cards]

Click on the pictures to see their cards in greater detail.


  1. I'm so glad you posted the tutorial. I have a new "Cricket" that I can use with this idea. I think I will make up all the parts and send them to my grandchildren with a glue stick. Thanks again for the idea. I was impressed with the cards your class made.

  2. Cards look fanatstic.

    So, LCO and LCI would be what SS teachers and preachers do then... liturgical cutting out and liturgical colouring in. Plus of course LSO - liturgical sticking on. I feel a whole new vocabulary emerging!

  3. I remember those 'old' days of supply had to be able to think quickly, as there were often no notes left.(lots of helpful coments from children...Miss said we could do this/that/ nothing etc!)
    The cards are beautiful.

  4. We almost never had supply teachers at primary school - there were four classes in each year, so if our teacher was absent without any warning, we were divided into three lots and sent to the other classes for the day. Occasionally, when we were 10 or 11, we would have two classes in together for half a day, and would do singing or games, so we weren't crammed into one classroom. However, when school knew that a teacher would be off, they called in Mrs Oates, the wife of one of the older teachers, and I loved having her, as she was a Classics and History teacher. She taught us Greek mythology and Roman History, and once, when she had us for two days, taught us about the Kon Tiki expedition and got us to make rafts out of raffia table mats and other stuff. I love ECO and ECI though, how useful!
    Lynn P

  5. Oh how exciting, to be making things out of raffia! I don't think schools USE raffia anymore [it probably failed the Risk Assessment or something]

  6. We had loads of it. Also cane - wooden circles with holes in, on which you could weave flower pot holders and baskets. And that was in *infant* school! The rather wonky results were sold at the summer fete,and I realised later that the reason we wrote our names underneath was so that our doting parents could buy the one we'd made. There was also making of needlebooks from felt. In juniors we also had paper straws that were woven into corn dollies and such like, plus more needlework and optional knitting. Despite this, we also managed to do English, Maths and all the other things, and mostly (unless one had a real problem) got to secondary school with a reading age of 11 or more and a good grounding in all subjects. So where has it all gone wrong now, with all this push for literacy, that some Hull secondaries are receiving 11 year olds with a reading age of 5?
    Lynn P


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