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Being off sick

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by moonprismpower, May 2, 2016.

  1. moonprismpower

    moonprismpower New commenter

    I'm not sure if this is the right place for this topic but here goes...

    What is your experience of being off sick at your school?

    It seems to be really taboo in my experience and I have had one day off due to infection and I am getting stressed about whether I will be well enough to go back to work on Tuesday.
  2. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    If you are not well enough to go in on Tuesday, then you don't go.

    You may sign yourself off for 5 working days - it's called Self-Certification.

    Sick leave and Sick pay

    Hope you feel better soon!

    Best wishes

    moonprismpower likes this.
  3. Geoff Thomas

    Geoff Thomas Star commenter

    If you have an infection, you would be doing nobody any favours by going to work.
    moonprismpower likes this.
  4. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    You can self certify for sickness less than a week.

    The trouble for teachers, - and not a lot of people outside teaching realise this, - but being off sick puts a lot of strain on your colleagues to either get in supply at 6 or 7 am before the pupils arrive or to find another member of staff who can temporarily cover the class - which,- and I'm talking to people outside education, - involves in a cobbled together lesson plan of some sort, produced within minutes! Of course schools plan for such events but each day in a classroom is different and there is still a lot of planning and sorting out to find where the class are in their curriculum etc. It is not easy, however well sorted the school is.

    And then there is the case where cover staff will miss their sorely needed preparation time for their own lessons. It is no exaggeration to say you can engender a lot of ill will at such times.

    So my experience has been that teachers do not like to take time off because they know the efforts that will have to be made on their behalf.

    The big problem comes though when - and we have all done it, me included - you struggle in, and because you are not on top of your game you have a disastrous lesson. Again speaking to non teachers, you either have a good lesson or a disastrous one. There is little in between. When the stuff hits the fan --- ! Once you loose the goodwill of the children in front of you, it can take a long time to get it back.

    I say that if you are ill take off all the time you need to get better. We teach with our body and soul and if we are not functioning 100% then we shouldn't be in front of the class. Nobody will thank us for it in the long term.

    Get well soon Moon PP.
    moonprismpower likes this.
  5. RedQuilt

    RedQuilt Star commenter

    It might not be easy to sort out and perhaps even highly inconvenient but managers are paid to manage situations like this, it's part of their job. What isn't part of their job is piling guilt onto someone who is ill. Regardless of the micromanagement that is going on in many educational establishments, regardless of the pressure put on people to be accountable for just about everything and regardless of the myriad directions given out we are still human and subject to illnesses. We are allowed to get ill.
    OP, take the time you need to get well, you'll be no use to anyone if you're ill.
  6. moonprismpower

    moonprismpower New commenter

    Thank you for all your supportive comments!

    I do feel guilty for putting strain on other members of staff, especially with it being SATs season.

    I also worry about my class as we all know they do not produce as good work with a cover teacher and i worry about being behind on my marking and planning.

    It would be easier to be at school because of this so the only reason I would take a sick day is if I physically could not get to work and do my job. I just don't feel management see it that way. Are all schools like this?
  7. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    It does indeed!

    Everywhere you work you can expect the initial groan when the call comes through. Yes, it's a pain. But after the momentary feeling of being peeved that there's a glitch you remember that everyone gets ill and it's not up to you to judge so you'd better just get on.

    But teaching? The emotional blackmail! The bullying.

    Don't dwell on it. Do you feel you can't go in? Don't. That includes the feeling that you'll be sobbing in your car if you make yourself turn up. That's also being ill.

    Make a decision based on your health. NOT on anything else.
  8. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    When you do feel a bit poorly you always tell yourself you can make it in and then having got through the day you feel so much worse that you're off the next day.

    I'm blessed with good helath - the only occasion I've missed more than a week is when I had chickenpox (courtesy of my daughter) some years ago. I felt fine but I would have infected half the school so there was no way I could go in.
  9. Alldone

    Alldone Senior commenter

    Not all schools are like moonprismpower's. In my school we rarely had supply teachers in and two periods a week were timetabled as cover for each teacher. Private school so pupils worked in silence during cover and it game me a chance to get on with some marking. School was pretty full on with sport, so many injuries - broken legs through skiing, broken arms through rugby (some staff played semi pro at weekends). Also as the school didn't force older teachers out (unlike State ones) staff would get age related "illness). Several had hip replacements, knee replacements (Rugby and Running). Several staff had Breast cancer treatment and were off for several months,

    When Norovirus hit a few years ago lots of teachers were off for several days - plus half the students. But, the school never put any pressure on staff if they were ill. There was a form to fill in when you returned, but this was only introduced in the last few years.So many schools treat their staff like dirt, but many other jobs are even worse if you are ill. Try working for Sports Direct; being ill will mean you lose your job pretty quickly.
    Dragonlady30 and moonprismpower like this.
  10. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    I agree totally with this, and it needs to made clear to staff and in particular young staff.
  11. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    This actually was my point as to why cover is onerous. I don't know about public schools but in state schools, staff need their prep time. One hour in front of the class requires one additional hour prep, marking, admin, chasing up discipline matters, chasing up pastoral matters, continual professional development, play ground duty, and God knows what else. 24 hour teaching timetable is already 48 hours/week. There is not much good will left. Your school should hire supply staff. It seems to me that it is simply trying to save money.

    And this is my other point. Working behind a shop counter is not just a world of difference to working in a school --- it is a solar system of difference! You can be full of cold or whatever and all you have to do is grin and bear it. In front of a class you HAVE to be on top of every thing - absolutely! And if as you say, you can sit in front of your public school class and get on with some marking or whatever -- my mind boggles.

    But then, that is why I have always thought people pay so much for a public school education -- to get their kids away from all the disenfranchised children.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  12. Alldone

    Alldone Senior commenter

    I am eternally grateful that I worked in private schools. Doing cover lessons did allow you to get on with planning and marking, so it wasn't onerous. We also did lunch time duty (half hour) twice a week - but lunch was an hour and a quarter. Yes, the school was trying to save money - it is a private school and so has to balance the books. Everyone accepted that. The only times supply teachers were brought in was for long term illness if other staff in the same department couldn't cover. I was fortunate to be one of those people who seemed to avoid colds, norovirus etc. I do remember coming in to school once with a bad sore throat. I told my classes that I could not talk, so help me out by not asking questions - as I said, a different world.
  13. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I also teach in an independent and we cover within ourselves. Supply is only for very long term illness.
    However we get double the PPA entitlement each week, so losing 2 or 3 to cover isn't something we can complain about.

    Yes some staff moan about those who are 'always off' or whose 'children seem the most sickly ones ever' but they are the same people who moan about everything and complain as often as they breathe!

    But SLT sort out cover and don't pressurise staff to be in when they shouldn't. In fact on at least three occasions since January have actively sent staff home because they were to ill to stay, or shouldn't have come in in the first place.

    We do a mix of teaching and 'get on with what's set only bothering me if it is an emergency' in cover lessons. It depends on what is left and how much work of our own we have. In report writing week, the children get on and we write our reports if we have to do cover. In the second week of term when we aren't so snowed under, we'd probably teach properly. But no-one who matters fusses either way.

    Yes I am very lucky.

    I have also worked in a school where staff would be visited at home by SLT on their first day of absence to 'check they really are too ill to be in'. Heaven help you if you were up and dressed and well enough to answer the door! Disgraceful behaviour and utterly wrong, but when you are ill you don't have the strength to tell them to sod off.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  14. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

  15. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Who mentioned utopia?!
    It isn't perfect, but it is a good and decent place to work.
    There is a bit of swings and roundabouts about it all, but the OP asked about attitudes to sickness absence and at my school that is a definite strength!

    We do cover for trips, courses and any other absence as well as illness.

    My post was also a bit of a response to the poster (can't remember who now) who implied that schools are wrong not to use supply staff.
  16. Alldone

    Alldone Senior commenter

    Agree it's not Utopia - school can seem full on at times, especially in the lead up to exams. Lots of extra curricular trips, but most have been to interesting places. Games teachers had the best ones - South Africa, New york, Bermuda - just some of the ones I can remember. Not so many teaching Science, but CERN in Geneva and JPL in the States were good. I always used to enjoy the extra free time after year 11 and A level groups went on study leave. School would pay for any courses we wanted to go on - one year I had a four day residential one in London, so missed the end of term. I taught mostly 11 and 6th form so not much cover was needed for my absence.

    My school also did similar to caterpillartobutterfly's and sent people home if they looked ill. Also sent flowers home and chocolates. When I was younger I used to take a Squash team to other Independent schools in the area. After school so pretty tiring getting home at 10pm. But some of the perks that these other schools had made ours seem like the poor house. Several Schools had separate staff dining rooms, with wine at lunch time - nice!
  17. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    WOW! We eat school lunch with our classes in the dining hall! (Actually state school staff don't do that...!) Mind you if I had wine for lunch, I'd be no use to anyone in the afternoons.

    I teach in prep school, so not quite the same sort of trips as you, but definitely far more than in state and a whole range of courses one wouldn't even bother asking about in a state school.
    Alldone likes this.
  18. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    If it wasn't me who said that, then I most certainly do now. Supply staff should be brought in to cover for illness. End of! I realise that we are coming from different perspectives and school types, but I taught in a state secondary comp, and in such a school, to plan and cover a class and lose a non contact period is very difficult.

    My reason in raising the issue of the load placed on other staff was to show to the OP moonPP why the subject seems a difficult one to talk about in at least the school where they work. However, the important point was made by Red Q that school management are paid to deal with such things and that, as has been said by several, don't come into school if you are not well.

    And the use of in-school staff for cover has to be resisted because it most certainly is simply to save money. Even more so in these days of academisation. Give an inch and a mile will be taken.
  19. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    Oh, and on the theme of too much information, I used to eat lunch with my students as part of dinner time duty. I got a bad infestation of worms which I put down to having the cutlery in trays that the pupils had to pick their cutlery up from. And if you are a science teacher and have to teach hygiene, you will not be surprised at the number of students who not only don't wash their hands after the loo, but are quite happy to tell you that they don't!,

    Sorry, --- back to the proper topic here --?
  20. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    Didn't put the quote in for my dinner story.

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