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Hi everyone,

In our school level three TA's (or equivalent) cover for absent teachers eg. to allow for PPA, short term illness, meetings, courses plus any release time.

However I understand from union guidelines/other documentation that support staff are only to cover for teachers in an emergency such as- illness in the short term or for unplanned occasions such as speaking to a parent, taking a telephone call etc.

According to these documents PPA can be covered by staff with a level three qualification, taking whole classes as long as the lesson is pre planned ie. no 'active teaching' is taking place. This should only be carried out by a qualified teacher or HLTA.

What I find confusing is-

As meetings, courses and release time are pre planned surely they do not fit into the above category?

What is classed as 'short term' sickness cover? At what time does a teacher need to be employed instead?

Is there a limit to how much time a TA can cover for absent teachers? Covering for teachers in turn has an impact on our regular jobs in school. xD

Even though the lesson/time of cover is pre planned surely teaching is taking place!? From my experience young children of primary/nursery age cannot work without guidance/help throughout the time you spend with them.

 

Teachers have new guidelines which state they are to 'rarely cover' for absent colleagues.

I am worried that we will be called upon more to cover in schools.

It appears to be a very grey area and can be interpreted differently depending on your Head/school's way of working.

If anyone can answer any of the above points or give any advice I would be really grateful.

I would also be interested in how your school cover for absent teachers.

Thanks! :o

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Cover staff/supervisors are usually used in secondary schools not in Primary, other than TA's covering PPA etc. I have never come across a situation where unqualified staff are used for cover. Rachel as a Nursery practitioner are you used to cover other classes, as Nursery ratios are very clear and cannot be breached? L3's can cover a teacher for planned absence from the classroom, such as PPA time, courses etc. The rules state short-term absence. Perhaps we need a bit more information about your particular circumstances to address your question.

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Cover staff/supervisors are usually used in secondary schools not in Primary, other than TA's covering PPA etc. I have never come across a situation where unqualified staff are used for cover. Rachel as a Nursery practitioner are you used to cover other classes, as Nursery ratios are very clear and cannot be breached? L3's can cover a teacher for planned absence from the classroom, such as PPA time, courses etc. The rules state short-term absence. Perhaps we need a bit more information about your particular circumstances to address your question.

 

Hi Jacquie,

Thanks for the reply. I will try to explain my current situation.

I am based in nursery, working alongside the nursery teacher and our level 2 TA. We have 39 places. I am NNEB trained (equivalent level 3).

I am used to cover for my own nursery teachers PPA/absence and either of the two reception teachers. This could be to cover for courses they attend, meetings in or out of school, short term sickness, release time etc.

When I am covering for a teacher in reception the level 2 TA (from reception) comes into nursery to replace me. Although employed as a level 2 she does hold a relevant level 3 qualification.

The same happens when I cover for our nursery teacher, the TA2 from reception comes into nursery to work with me and our TA2.

Bet I've really confused you now! :o

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I am based in nursery, working alongside the nursery teacher and our level 2 TA. We have 39 places. I am NNEB trained (equivalent level 3).

I am used to cover for my own nursery teachers PPA/absence and either of the two reception teachers. This could be to cover for courses they attend, meetings in or out of school, short term sickness, release time etc.

When I am covering for a teacher in reception the level 2 TA (from reception) comes into nursery to replace me. Although employed as a level 2 she does hold a relevant level 3 qualification.

The same happens when I cover for our nursery teacher, the TA2 from reception comes into nursery to work with me and our TA2.

Bet I've really confused you now!

 

Same situation as me

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Same situation as me

 

Hi Biccy,

How do you feel about this? Do you think we are being used appropriately?

I think when I am in reception we lose the continuity for our nursery children and parents, I sometimes feel the children I am key person for are missing out. I also miss being with them too! :o

When in reception I feel we are teaching not 'covering' for the the teacher. I think nursery and reception children cannot work/learn without help/guidance throughout the time we are with them. We may not be planning the work but it's so much more than just 'delivering' and 'covering'. Perhaps in upper school just delivering the lesson and covering for the absent teacher is feasible.

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I'll answer fully later but I am expected to also do the planning for reception for the day's PPA I covered. Then when covering for unexpected absences its more a case of child minding.

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I'll answer fully later but I am expected to also do the planning for reception for the day's PPA I covered. Then when covering for unexpected absences its more a case of child minding.

 

Hi Biccy,

If you don't mind me asking what are you employed as in school? From the guidelines I understood that only HLTA's and teachers were supposed to do planning.

When covering I follow the class teacher's normal planning for that week, the same applies for when I'm covering PPA.

Do they use you to cover in main school too? I am used to cover our nursery and for both reception teachers.

Level 3 TA's in our school cover for absent teachers eg. short term sickness, meetings, courses and release time.

They can do a number of these in a week, usually half or full days.

We have no HLTA's in our school.

However we do employ outside providers eg. sport coaches, art people to work with the children to cover PPA in main school. Level 3 TA's are used to support the coaches.

As mentioned in my previous post I feel taking support staff away from their normal positions and substituting TA's for teachers on a regular basis not good practise.

At what point do you employ a teacher for a teacher?! :o

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Hi Rachel,

 

From what you have explained which happens in your situation happens in many schools - HLTA or Level 3 qualified staff cover classes in KS1 & KS2 as well as Reception. They follow the plans that the teacher has planned (usually the previous week and ready for the Monday morning) and left for that morning/afternoon for the person who is covering. Increasingly due to the cost of supply teachers, Heads are opting to use a HLTA or equivalent to cover instead. The HLTAs in our school are fantastic and are in most cases studying to become a teacher in the future.

 

Sometimes, there are situations where moving a TA is unavoidable and if my TA is needed to be deployed elsewhere to support a colleague then neither of us have no qualms about this. The TAs usually have links with children in other classes through siblings or perhaps have worked with that class before.

 

Booking a supply teacher is usually done if absence of a teacher is known ahead and if there is one available!!! For Heads, at all times the welfare of the children in the class is paramount and deploying the most appropriate staff to ensure this - if this means a HLTA or more experienced TA to cover the class for a short period of time - a morning or part of a day - rather than an unknown supply teacher that the school has not used before then they may do so.

 

I personally would far rather have someone who knows some or all of the children in my class rather than a supply teacher who the school has never used before (which they never do as they only use people they know and have seen teach).

 

If you are concerned about how you are being deployed it might be worth contacting your union or speaking to the person in your school who is responsible for TAs.

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Thank you for your reply, it is really interesting to here what happens in other schools xD

We have some excellent TA's in our school too but unfortunately no HLTA's. Our level 3 TA's usually cover for a morning or an afternoon but sometimes are used to cover classes for a full day. Most of these cover times are known in advance.

I can appreciate the points you make, especially concerning the welfare of the children in school. I fully understand Head Teachers would not want to have unfamiliar staff working with the children. I don't agree with that either.

I just sometimes think moving support staff from their usual positions disrupts one area to cover another :(

This can have a big impact especially when working with younger children in school such as nursery and reception.

I have contacted my union regarding my concerns but it seems wording on the guidelines is vague or can be interpreted in different ways.

I feel it would make more sense to employ a 'floating' teacher to cover when needed instead of using TA's. The floating teacher would in time become familiar with the children and the school.

The TA's would then be in their usual positions to support their teachers. This arrangement would be ideal when the floating teacher is covering as the regular TA would be there to help and support.

Perhaps I am being a bit naive, in an ideal world...............and all that :o

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Well it's happened :o

A teacher is going to be absent from school for a least a week, possibly longer and a level 3 TA is covering her class!!!!

As well as the impact on the class being covered the TA will be missing from her usual supporting role in school.

When is a teacher going to be employed to cover a teacher?

As a parent I would not be happy with this arrangement.

Children should be tought by teachers not by teaching assistants on the cheap.

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Perhaps I am being a bit naive, in an ideal world...............and all that :o

 

I'm afraid with budget squeezes schools just can't afford to employ an extra teacher (cost to a school approx £200 per day ) for occasional absences but by law they should employ a QTS for longer absences.

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In our setting the TAs step up for absence, some PPA cover and for courses etc, and none of them are paid as a Level 3 TA, although Im not sure how many of them have got it?!?!?! Some of them might only have the Teaching Assistnat qualificiation and so not even qualified to a level 2.

 

Is there some stat guideance to say they cant do it. Or is it down to HT and school and governors?????

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In our setting the TAs step up for absence, some PPA cover and for courses etc, and none of them are paid as a Level 3 TA, although Im not sure how many of them have got it?!?!?! Some of them might only have the Teaching Assistnat qualificiation and so not even qualified to a level 2.

 

Is there some stat guideance to say they cant do it. Or is it down to HT and school and governors?????

 

Hi Blossom,

From what I understand only level 3 TA's (or equivalent-I have a NNEB qualification) can take whole classes as 'cover' for the teacher. Level 2 TA's should be working under direction of a teacher at all times or if on their own only work with small groups. Only HTLA's (level 4) should be 'teaching' or 'planning' lessons in the absence of the teacher.

However you are right unfortunately there are grey areas in the guidelines that can be interpreted in different ways by Head Teachers/schools.

I would advise your colleagues to speak to their union reps for clarification.

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Level 2 TA's should be working under direction of a teacher at all times or if on their own only work with small groups.

 

I think the "devil is in the detail" working under the direction of doesn't mean a teacher has to be in the same room.

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I think the "devil is in the detail" working under the direction of doesn't mean a teacher has to be in the same room.

 

Marion you have hit the nail on the head!

The guidelines are not clear enough. I feel at times we are being taken advantage of, not to mention saving the school a fortune in supply cover! :o

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In my school we have a HLTA teaching every afternoon in the same class. Also mine and another teachers PPA is covered by a level 2 TA. Is this right?

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In my school we have a HLTA teaching every afternoon in the same class. Also mine and another teachers PPA is covered by a level 2 TA. Is this right?

 

Do you know what Vicki I am so confused now I honestly don't know what TA's are allowed/supposed to do in school xD

I thought I knew the guidelines and what was good practise but it seems Head Teachers/schools can more or less do what they want.

The guidelines have 'no teeth' and are so unclear they offer no support to TA's.

There are ways round every statement as far as I can see.

After the 'rarely cover' legistlation for teachers I feel things are only going to get worse for support staff in school :o

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