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A Plea to all TAs - Please don't cover classes if you are not qualified.

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by Jessie1912, Oct 16, 2010.

  1. I am a TA who works in a Primary School.
    I am very concerned at the number of TAs who are unqualified who are agreeing to cover classes (regularly not just for emergency cover), who have either no qualifications at all, or who do have TA quals but are not qualified to take whole classes.
    I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of times heads are asking TAs to do this and paying them grade 4, as opposed to their normal grade 1 or 2.
    This is resulting in the dumbing down of our childrens education, and also preventing qualified Supply Teachers who hold QTS from getting work.
    Any TA who wishes to teach should do the necessary degree and then QTS BEFORE teaching in the classroom.
    I know this is commonplace and widespread and I have raised the matter with both my own MP and also the Education Secretary.
    Those of us who refuse to take part in this shoddy practice are being snubbed in favour of those who are only to happy to earn £10 an hour instead of their usual £6 to £8 and in the process are allowing heads to save paying the £35 an hour supply costs.
    PLEASE if you are not qualified, then REFUSE to cover classes.
    It could not happen in any other role, so why allow it to happen in education?

  2. The whole issue has become a real muddle with schools and individual TAs confused about what they are allowed to do.
    At my school HLTAs cover PPA and occasional absence, other TAs do not. Each individual school seems to be using TAs in different ways.
    It needs clear guidelines - the issue is being fudged, I guess because the financial implications of suddenly stopping TA/Cover supervisors covering lessons would be huge.
  3. I agree TAs should not be taking whole classes, that is what teachers go to university to do. HLTAs need to remember that their status is not code for QTS.
  4. Most HLTAs are well aware that they have a status that simply means that they are working at a higher level in their TA role.
    I would argue that it is Headteachers who decide how to use HLTAs and if they are being used inappropriately it is the Headteachers responsibility.
    I don't know any HLTAs who think for one minute that they are a qualified teacher, most are respectful of their teaching colleagues hard earned professional status. For many HLTAs they simply feel overwhelmed, overstretched and well aware of their own limitations.
  5. I agree. We do not have any HLTAs in our school, but there are several, some who have TA quals and others who do not have a single qualification of any description, who regularly take classes (ie sickness cover, PPA cover, course cover etc).
    The head knows full well it is wrong as there are never any TAs covering when OFSTED are around, but they (like so many other heads) turn a blind eye as it means they can pay £10 an hour instead of £35 an hour for a Supply Teacher.
    On top of the heads fiddling the system and short changing the children in the process, what disgusts me the most is the way regular teachers are hostile to those who object to this shoddy practice - their attitude being as long as they get their PPA, they don't give a stuff.
    What are they thinkin? They are doing other qualified teachers out of work! How would they like that done to them?
  6. I accept your point, I was writing my comment with a particular HLTA in mind, so rather unfairly.
  7. R13

    R13 Occasional commenter

    I can't say I disagree with anything Shorty says but as a Head I'd like to point out a financial reality or two to go in the mix. If everytime my school used assistant (NOT Unqualified I shuld add) cover we instead used a teacher it would cost the school some £25,000 . . .to pay for this I would need to employ two less assistants.
    That's not intended to sound threatening, just to explain the problem here is a lack of resources, which are now being cut. As a Head I don't ever save money by using an assistant - I reuse money on staffing for something else
  8. This is a real sticky problem. The question is whether HLTAs/TAs/Cover Supervisors are being used appropriately.
    A TA given clear planning and teacher support in a subject that perhaps they have an area of interest/experience (art. music, drama etc) may deliver a competent lesson.
    In contrast a TA/HLTA dropped at short notice into a Literacy/Numeracy lesson or covering long term illness will not be able to provide satisfactory lessons.
    In addition HLTAs are often struggle as their lessons (unlike the teacher they are often covering) are usually unsupported by a TA and so teaching and managing behaviour become even more of a challenge.
    I wouldn't say that I am entirely opposed to TAs having some whole class input but I do feel that in the rush and flurry of day to day teaching that if TAs are not supported by the teachers that they work with the lessons that they do cover will not be satisfactory.
    I agree it all comes down to money. When I first started as a TA over a decade ago TAs were reserved for Early Years and SEN support. The expansion in numbers and the changing role of the TA has been massive and with that comes cost implications for schools. When I first started PPA didn't exist and the funding of that foir schools is massive and what a temptation to use cheaper and increasingly better trained TAs than to pay for qualified Supply Teachers.

  9. Ophelia 9

    Ophelia 9 New commenter

    But, once again, there is no consistency across different authorities - when I first qualified as a TA (although there was no such job title then) well over a decade ago I was not employed in either of those areas - I did work with SEN pupils at times, as I still do sometimes, but I was never a one-to-one assistant.
    In our school TAs are only used within the LEA's very strict criteria to cover classes, and only an HLTA can cover PPA time and is expected to plan, mark and assess. Only those Level 3s with a responsibility point can be asked to deliver work planned by a teacher on a very limited number of occasions. I think the situation shorty is describing is disgraceful - and have to wonder at the professionalism of TAs who are colluding in it.
  10. The problem in my school is that Heads of Departments etc know exactly which TAs can have their egos massaged into covering lessons. Also, some TAs are very open about the fact that they will cover lessons they are normally in anyway to the detriment of thier assigned special needs student as it will look good on their PGCE application.
  11. I work in one of the lowest funded authorities in the country. I am well aware of the hardships heads face compared to better funded areas, but can we really say that what is happening is right?
    Are children better off being taught (or dare I say babysat?) by completely unqualified staff?
    Are they going to achieve their full potential being fobbed off by well meaning, "nice" but completely unqualified "teachers?"
    If there is nothing wrong with it, why is it hushed up under the carpet and kept from those who protest about it, not to mention from any OFSTED visits?
    Our children deserve so much better than this!!
    Would you accept going to the dentist for a filling to be told the dentist is off sick, but it's ok, the dental nurse will do it instead?
    It couldn't happen in any other profession, so why on earth is it being made acceptable in Education?
    Supplylady likes this.
  12. historygrump

    historygrump Star commenter Forum guide

    Shorty is so correct and I would like to thank the TA's on this site, who are supporting the demands that only qualified teachers should be in charge of the class. As shorty knows I am an active campaigner on the supply teachers forums, to end this misuse or downright abuse of TA's. As a supply teacher I appreciate a good TA, in that you are essential to a supply and to a permanent teacher, in the role devised orginally for you, that is assisting the teacher and working with small groups of children. My appreciation of a good TA is based upon the fact that besides being a qualified teacher, I am also a qualified classroom support and have worked in that role.
    R13, I appreciate your argument, but what is more important, the children's education and future or money. How many HT earn very high incomes, i.e the one in London, who it was claimed earned over £200,000, yet I am under the impression his school uses HLTA's to cover PPA and lessons to save money. In secondary schools, the schools are paying cover supervisors up to £15,000, yet for an extra £2,0000 to 3,000 you could get a Newly Qualified Teacher on pro-rata terms. I know of supply and unemployed teachers, who would consider the role of cover teacher, if offered it on around 16-18,000 a year.
    I feel that England should adopt the system that exists in Scotland, a system which does not allow anyone who is not a teacher from covering and taking lessons. I would also scrap the post of CS, unlike the HLTA (who can legally supervise, but not teach) and the TA's, you have an important role in schools.
  13. feel that England should adopt the system that exists in Scotland, a system which does not allow anyone who is not a teacher from covering and taking lessons. I would also scrap the post of CS, unlike the HLTA (who can legally supervise, but not teach) and the TA's, you have an important role in schools.

    I totally agree that only teachers should teach, but as a HLTA I find myself in a difficult position. Since starting at my school a short time ago, I cover PPA for different year groups every day. I have to plan, teach, mark and assess the work with no help from the class teacher. i frequently try and discuss my lessons to give myself reassurance that I cover the curriculum correctly with little or no support - I am the only one who teaches science to a number of year groups. I am well aware that I am not a teacher - have never wanted to be, and would be much happier doing what I am good at - being a TA. However I accepted this role, although didn't appreciate what was fully involved, and as much as I disagree with the amount of teaching I do, there is nothing I can do about it!!!!
  14. historygrump

    historygrump Star commenter Forum guide

    You should report it to the union, because you are operating illegally under the 2002 Act and the 2004 WFA. The school HT should be sacked for their behaviour, I know you are in a difficult position, in that if you report it you could lose your job. But it is the school who have broken the rules and the behaviour sums up, why the recruit non-teachers to operate in this way, because they know that they will do nothing. To some extent the HLTA and TA are powerless, compared to teachers in a permanent role. I feel sorry for you to be so abused and misued by the school, so the HT can save a few thousands of pounds.
  15. Ophelia 9

    Ophelia 9 New commenter

    <font face="FranklinGothic-Condensed" color="#001f8d">
    Nothing illegal is happening here - this is the guidance from the WAMG following the 2004 WFA which you quote:
    </font><font size="2" face="Helvetica">There is still confusion between cover supervision for a teacher&rsquo;s short-term absence
    and timetabled strategies for providing teachers with guaranteed PPA time. Whilst the
    former is not a good use of an HLTA&rsquo;s skills, the latter needs the skills of an HLTA
    because this time needs to be committed to the curriculum. The expression &ldquo;cover for
    PPA&rdquo;, which is often used, in fact blurs the two different activities. The crucial differences
    between the two concepts are that:
    - during a teacher&rsquo;s PPA time an HLTA will be actively delivering a lesson/undertaking
    elements of &lsquo;specified work&rsquo; whereas where a member of support staff is covering for
    short-term teacher absence they will solely be supervising a class or lesson; and
    - PPA time is a regular occurrence and, therefore, the &lsquo;cover&rsquo; of these lessons needs to
    be timetabled. This is not short term and is not short notice.
    There are a number of strategies a headteacher can use for PPA time but if a TA takes
    a class during this time she should be paid at a level 4 (assuming a 4-level career
    structure as proposed by the NJC job profiles).
    It is a Cover supervisor who is only permitted to 'supervise' a class carrying out work set by a teacher and an HLTA who can deliver 'specified work' that is, active teaching. I am not saying that this is necessarily 'right', and indeed the WAMG went on to issue advice that the HLTA role was not supposed to be about covering PPA time at all, however you are totally wrong to suggest that there is anything illegal about what the previous poster is being expected to do.
  16. "There are a number of strategies a headteacher can use for PPA time but if a TA takes
    a class during this time she should be paid at a level 4 (assuming a 4-level career
    structure as proposed by the NJC job profiles)".

    Our head is doing this, but the trouble is it is for UNQUALIFIED TAs who are either paid at grade 1 or have some form of TA qual (either level 2 or 3), and who are paid at grade 2.
    The ones who cover classes regularly have NO quals whatsoever!!!! (not even a GCSE!!).
  17. Easier said than done!!
  18. R13

    R13 Occasional commenter

    I think I did point out we don't use unqualified assistants. We also don't hide anything when OFSTED come. We certainly don't pay me a fortune!
    What I'm saying is that it isn't a matter of doing what's right for children or not. What's right for children is enough teachers AND enough assistants and the budget in my school if cut will mean we will be able to afford one or the other. Both are wrong and both need to be campaigned against
  19. historygrump

    historygrump Star commenter Forum guide

    Ophelia 9 and R13, Thank you for your responses. The rules are to some extent confusing and the ATL have stated to me, as a member that 'as far they are concerned HLTA cannot teach lessons'. They signed the WFA unlike the NUT, and are generally a pro-unqualified support staff union, but if they say one thing and I note the proposed NJC job profiles says another, then who is correct. This needs to be addressed and urgently, i understand R13 position and the issue of money, again what is the solution, give the schools the money direct, instead of going through the LEA, who cream of their cut for admin staff? However I believe the government and unions should sit down and introduce the Scottish system, in which only qualified teachers can be in charge of a lesson. The rule could read 'Only a qualified teacher can be in charge of a class, cover and teach lessons, this includes authorised teachers PPA, short-term and long-term absences'.
    I know this rule would impact on you R13, but when you read of a TA having the own forms, teaching maths on a permanent basis, doing lesson plans,etc and this story is becomming more common, as schools look to save money. It is bad for education, it is bad for the children and it is bad for the teaching profession, which you are a member.
  20. ATL should read the guidance more carefully, particularly as they were, indeed, signatories to the WFA. WAMG are correct in this instance.
    The NJC job profiles are those drawn up as part of the WFA and so are part of what ATL signed up to.

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