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Availability of supply staff

Discussion in 'Scotland - education news' started by partickz, Nov 22, 2015.

  1. partickz

    partickz New commenter

    We are facing our 11th week without a fully staffed department with no end in sight. Pressure is now becoming unbearable. We should be a 3 person department. (our staffing is officially 2.6 as I am PTPS). We have had a colleague off for the last 10 weeks after an accident. No subject supply staff throughout that time just a variety of general supply staff and cover from within the school. We have been told unofficially that our friend/colleague may be absent until summer term.

    We have dropped S1-3 from our timetables and are now maxed out on Higher/National 5. The S4 National 4 sets in both columns have been abandoned and the FH is now putting pressure on us to spend 10 minutes in with Nat 4 after we have set our Nat 5 classes some work to do (whilst the cover teacher supervises). Apparently "We have to do something for the Nat 4s!"

    This would involve additional planning and correction on top of the already heavy workload. I can cope with a heavy workload, but 58 S4 Nat 5 pupils and 52 Higher pupils produces a HUGE amount of marking. My colleague has more than 70 National 5 pupils from S4-6 and 25 Higher pupils. I am teaching one period over my minimum in order to teach both Higher columns and both Nat 5 columns.

    For the first time ever, I feel unable to cope. Our HT has asked to see records of all departments homework in the BGE. The FH asked on Friday what homework I had given to the BGE classes that were initially on my timetable in August. I said nothing since the timetable was chopped in September and they became cover classes. Apparently I should have been giving HW as well as leaving cover work and starting the classes off! (this favour to the FH will end as of tomorrow) I said I was not prepared to discuss this and would make an appointment with the HT to discuss this myself.

    I feel like walking!
  2. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Lead commenter

    You can only be held accountable for your own classes, no-one else's.
    You should not be teaching over maximum contact time, you are breaking your contract. Mention that to your boss, although you certainly know you shouldn't be doing this.
    Who said you had to give homework to other classes? Ask the FH or HT where that was agreed.
    The understaffing is NOT your problem or responsibility and if you go along with things that are being suggested to you, you are (1) masking the HT's responsibility to provide cover, and, (2) creating a new norm and it will then be expected both of you and your dept.
    I'm sure we all chip in and help out when a colleague is off, but there's a limit.
    Keep us up to date, this is becoming more frequent..

    Our dept was down a teacher a couple of years ago.
    Our HT-wannabe DHT teaches that subject.
    Not for a single solitary lesson did the DHT volunteer to take those classes, the HT did not even instruct the DHT to fill in.
    The DHT was probably "too busy" making a spreadsheet to monitor pupils from the moment they got out of bed until the moment they returned.
    Management? A ******' 10-year-old could have suggested the complete and utterly bleedin' obvious.
    David Brent on hallucinogenic drugs could have suggested that the DHT step in.
    A complete and utter omnishambles.
    HelenREMfan likes this.
  3. GuessWho

    GuessWho Occasional commenter

    Similar thing happened where I work when a member of another department was off for the duration.
    No cover could be found we were told.
    However HT was qualified in the subject needed and had continually said how they missed teaching their subject.
    You can guess what happened.
  4. inthered

    inthered Occasional commenter

    Ditto. This is happening all over and we should be digging our heels in and neither setting nor marking any BGE stuff. No development work so beloved of SMT. No lunchtime clubs if you're run ragged actually trying to teach kids.

    It's the fact that problems and shortages are being masked which is a big issue - some SMTs would apparently rather walk over hot coals than admit to parents that there's a staffing problem, even though it's country-wide and no reflection on the school. They wouldn't go so far as to actually take the classes, however. Be realistic.
  5. lescargot

    lescargot Occasional commenter

    I must be the only person here ho thinks SMT shouldn't be covering classes. They sometimes do in my school. I personally think if they're teaching or covering classes then they don't have time to do what they should be doing. That said, we shouldn't be put in the positions we are (as above) either. But we need to be willing to stand up and say no when necessary.
  6. partickz

    partickz New commenter

    You know what, this has taught me that no matter what extra you give/do... it is NEVER enough. When the timetabling of Higher/Nat 5 did not fit, I said I would give a period up (thinking it would only be a few weeks).

    When the FH asked my colleague and I to sort work for BGE and the Nat 4s, we did it thinking that we were pulling our weight as part of a team and as it is our subject we know it best.

    The FH is new in post and under pressure. I get that. What I do not get is the willingness to exploit the good nature of colleagues and then potentially drop them in it!
    lescargot likes this.
  7. lescargot

    lescargot Occasional commenter

  8. inthered

    inthered Occasional commenter

    lescargot, I reckon if the SMT aren't in classes ever, they completely lose sight of what it's like. I've been through very different regimes, from a HT who insisted on taking at least one class and being responsible for it (and in that case, actually leaving work if unavoidably out of school) to the 'door is closed, don't even think about it' SMT who collectively have nothing to do with classes at all.

    By far the best was the HT who walked the walk. Sure he wasn't always there - but work was always left - and the attitude pervaded downwards - depute and AHTs did the same, all had some class responsibility and behaved as if teaching and learning were actually the most important thing - and we really felt like we were all in it together. Especially as the HT took the bottom set S3 every year in his subject, reasoning that if he couldn't get them to behave, nobody could. It was solid gold and worked so well. Never seen it since, sadly.

    If SMT have no class responsibility, and most of ours don't - if they get a class, it's a babysitting study group or some such a period per week, or a period of the Higher class - they forget how hard it can be, and 'could you just...' becomes the theme tune. They don't realise or remember how draining it is to be teaching to the max, then asked to do a bit more until that becomes the norm. Then a bit more... then a bit more... it's fine to kick up stink and say no.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2015
  9. MilkyBar Kid

    MilkyBar Kid Occasional commenter

    Do parents have access to details of departmental staffing shortages if they request it? (no names obviously) A similar situation occurred in our school with a staff member off long-time sick in a small dept that was never filled with a specialist. General supply muddled along with Higher/Nat5 class. This happened at the beginning of the academic year, had parents known then they may have encouraged students to pick up another subject in its place as it was early enough to change, but nothing was said, students stayed on the course with no specialist and suffered as a result.
  10. lescargot

    lescargot Occasional commenter

    Does teaching one class a week really make that much difference? I don't know. I too have experienced both and I'm not sure that those with class contact were any better on the whole. With one class they still forget quickly how relentless it is to have different classes/subjects/years/levels come and go all day long. It may, however, keep them more abreast of the impact of (their) policy and curricular changes. That's not what this thread is alluding to though, it's talking about SLT covering classes. Not an effective use of a manager on 55k a year's time imho. What they sometimes use the time for otherwise probably isn't either mind you!
  11. ScotSEN

    ScotSEN Senior commenter

    When I worked in the my last authority -we were that if it was a choice between sending pupils home and finding a teacher, and all SMT were in class we should call on any GTCSregistered teacher who was seconded out ie QIOs and the like. To the best of my knowledge it never happened.
  12. subman68

    subman68 Occasional commenter

    I have a friend that is a DHT , he is asked to teach 14 period per week. He works late every day and works both on Sat and Sunday. SMT are management they have other issues to deal with. A bit of class contact is no bad thing but I would say 3 periods max.

    As for supply, we get in teachers that you would not wish on the worst pupil in school. No control, no responsibility. It was agreed that some of these people would not be back in school again. Supply is so scares that yip they are back in school. They cost me hours of work as I end up cleaning up discipline issues and parental calls. What do we expect with the way the SG, unions and schools treat supply teachers?
    lescargot likes this.
  13. partickz

    partickz New commenter

    An update from today, another difficult day! The Homework situation was not mentioned until the FH asked what homework booklets we have for S1-3. Apparently she will issue these to classes- good luck getting it back and marking it is all I could say. They will "peer mark" was the reply. I did not even dignify that with a response. :)
  14. Potatoes005

    Potatoes005 Occasional commenter

    I remember watching a class peer mark each other a couple of years before I retired in my school. Fairly new teacher.

    It was Maths, so I knew the answers and I walked round before the homework was peer marked and had a brief look. It was ok, but no great shakes.

    Before you know it, the red pens are passed out, and the teacher then gathered the scores in the "shout out your scores" system of answering and would you believe that out of 30 marks the lowest mark was 27. The teacher believed them all.

    I ended up sneaking in the class later on, after 5 and getting all the jotters out for a proper read.

    The highest mark was 19.

    I'm a sceptic on peer marking!
  15. partickz

    partickz New commenter

    Well it will be even more fun in a subject with no set right/wrong answer. I just want out. Never thought I would say that.
  16. ScotSEN

    ScotSEN Senior commenter

    I just want out. Never thought I would say that.

    I know where you are coming from. For so long I thought teaching was my dream job. I taught in quite a variety of schools and until the last few years wouldn't have changed it at all. Just feel so lucky that I'm in the age band that could still get a teacher's pension at 55.
    lescargot likes this.
  17. heldon

    heldon Occasional commenter

    We can all still access our pensions at 55. However, it will become increasingly difficult as the actuarial reduction from state pension age rather than 60 begins to phase in. In other words someone starting today would take a hit of over 50%. Glad I only have 2 or three years to go - aiming for 56.5 and like you guys used to love the job - not now.
  18. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    Or probably choose to pretend to believe them?
  19. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    I'm confused. I thought you'd retired?
  20. ScotSEN

    ScotSEN Senior commenter

    I have retired I was quoting the poster above me.

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