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Cover supervisor as school experience?

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by uu15926, Mar 30, 2017.

  1. uu15926

    uu15926 New commenter

    I'm in the process of applying for teacher training for this Sept 2017. I've just discovered "cover supervisors". Would this be acceptable school experience for someone who hasn't even been accepted on the teacher training course yet?

    I'm also aware that some cover supervisors are asked to "teach", contrary to recommendations by the unions, for obvious reasons. If a post was advertised as non-teaching, but a school then took advantage of being there, how should one respond?
  2. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    The point of school experience is for you to see how teachers teach - what they do in a lesson, how they deal with behaviour, and so on - as well as to see how schools operate, and perhaps give you a chance to chat to teachers about your subject and the workload. If you were to work as a cover supervisor without doing any lesson observations you'd miss out on that learning experience. Many unis and SD providers insist on you having already spent, or intending to spend, two weeks observing.

    Having said that, any work you've done with children is beneficial to boost your teacher training application, but how about starting as a TA? We have two unqualified cover supervisors in my school, and I think they do a good job because, despite no teacher training, they've both worked there for such a long time that they know all the students (it's a small school) and the school procedures.

    Teacher training providers are not going to get involved in political debates when assessing applications - it won't matter to them if you've done something against union guidelines. However, I think that working as a teacher prior to teacher training can be counter productive, as you may get into bad habits that will make the already challenging PGCE even more difficult; I taught EFL before my teacher training, so felt fine about planning lessons and incorporating a range of activities, but then struggled to plan in the way they wanted me to at my placement schools.

    By the way, change your username and photo if that is indeed your real name.
  3. gazzmus

    gazzmus New commenter

    It is!

    A 30 second search lead me to lots of details about you (more than average for a 'newbie').

    You cannot imagine the mind of a bored/angry/hostile secondary school child! They will torment you, drip feed bits of info they've gleamed about you, or your family, essentially 'bait' you until you snap. You will eventually!

    Have a deep search of the web, even to the point of electoral roles online which can narrow down your home address to a street!

    Happy Easter!
    wanet and sbkrobson like this.
  4. uu15926

    uu15926 New commenter

  5. uu15926

    uu15926 New commenter


    Username and profile picture now changed, though the forum pic isn't updating yet. Could I ask you to edit my username in your reply?

    Paranoid of England
  6. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    So, you think that you can teach as a cover supervisor without a teaching qualification, yet require some kind of qualification to support children as a TA?!

    No, you don't need a qualification to be a TA, and many people use it as a stepping stone to teaching, or turn to TAing when they've had enough of teaching.

    Posts cannot be edited more than 5 minutes after first posted. If you want this thread taken down press the 'report' button and ask them to remove it.
  7. uu15926

    uu15926 New commenter

    No, I assumed that a Cover Supervisor was an administrative role, that would enable me to observe a class, and a teaching assistant was always under the supervision of a teacher. But I'm continuing to learn as time goes on, and I am more than happy to defer to everyone here.
  8. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Ah, I see.

    No, a cover supervisor will 'cover' the lesson if the regular teach is off sick or cannot teach it for some reason. The teacher or their Head of Department will plan the lesson, and pass any worksheets or materials to the cover supervisor; the cover supervisor then makes the students do the work (so they are not really 'teaching', they are just 'supervising the learning').

    If you are in a rough school it will be tough because the kids will see it an an excuse to mess about; even in a nice school it can be hard, as they won't know you.

    You would be supervising the lesson, so not able to watch teachers to see best practice. You wouldn't even see best practice in the lesson planning, because if the teacher has called in sick the Head of Department may have just thrown some worksheets together 2 minutes before the lesson started.
  9. uu15926

    uu15926 New commenter

    Thanks for that, looks like Cover Supervisor (CS) is not ideal. I assume that a CS can communicate with the class to keep order, but what happens if the class asks questions? Just tell them to wait until their next lesson?
  10. Ryan91

    Ryan91 New commenter

    I'm a CS and I think we get quite a bad press as a scapegoat for the bigger picture of education cuts...I'll be starting teacher training in September and I have used it to gain valuable experience. I actually found the SCITT interviews quite easy to be honest. You find you're so much more comfortable and aware of school related questions and the pupils during the lesson observation.

    As the above posts have said, the role is tough and behaviour of some classes can be very challenging. On the other hand, I think you really see what a school setting is like and you tend to adopt good behaviour management strategies over time. Either way it has to be better preparation than the minimum standards of a couple of weeks observing. Also for me personally, working as TA for a potential prospective teacher would make me feel unexposed to taking charge and dealing with the class as a whole.

    I've found Teachers in most part supportive and not just dumping sheets on me. However, it can still happen.

    Good luck with the decision.
    pepper5 and uu15926 like this.
  11. Ryan91

    Ryan91 New commenter

    Well I don't know why you'd actively avoid helping or answering a question if you knew it. At the same time, if you can't answer the question you'd have to say that.
    pepper5 likes this.
  12. uu15926

    uu15926 New commenter

    I was thinking that if cover supervisors are not allowed to teach, then they can't answer certain subject questions, that may be seen as "teaching"?
  13. Ryan91

    Ryan91 New commenter

    I think that's more for your benefit than a job description factor.
  14. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    'Teaching' refers to all aspects of the job of a teacher, not just the part where you're standing in the classroom in front of them - planning the lessons, using various assessment techniques within the lesson, assessing book work and formal assessment tasks...
  15. uu15926

    uu15926 New commenter

    Yes, but "supervising" by its very description, is a specific sub-set of "teaching".
  16. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Cover supervisors hand out worksheets or follow the instructions the teacher or HoD has set for them. They make sure the class do some work, and manage their behaviour. They may be able to answer some questions the students ask them, they may not, it depends on the subject and topic they're covering. They may give feedback to the teacher on how the lesson went, such as behaviour issues, or whether the class understood the task, or if it was enough work for them.

    Work set would not rely on the cover supervisor having knowledge of that topic, e.g. the class may be reading a text in English that you've never heard of, so instead the cover lesson would consist of something enclosed such as a reading comprehension or creative writing. So, you wouldn't be imparting your knowledge of the subject, you'd be reading the comprehension text over their shoulders and pointing them to the paragraph with the answer in it. 'Teaching' is not the same as answering questions.

    Working as a cover supervisor is a good precursor to applying for the PGCE, as it does involve dealing with behaviour and working with young people, as well as seeing the inner working of a school. However, it does not negate the need for at least 2 weeks lesson observations, which all PGCE providers require.
    uu15926 likes this.
  17. Ryan91

    Ryan91 New commenter

    [QUOTE="blueskydreaming, post: 12041553, member: 3382110"

    Working as a cover supervisor is However, it does not negate the need for at least 2 weeks lesson observations, which all PGCE providers require.[/QUOTE]

    Did for me, I've had two support staff roles now. One as a Graduate assistant at a boarding school and the second as a cover supervisor. Never 'officially' observed.
  18. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Given there is only one term until you start training, you are highly unlikely to secure a paid position.
    Try offering your services in a voluntary capacity at a range of schools near you, primary as well as secondary.
  19. Ryan91

    Ryan91 New commenter

    Lie - I've had to do it all my life to get a paid, part-time jobs between University. I don't particularly like it but you have to do it! I'm sure my current school employing me as CS would have reviewed their decision, if they'd known I'd only do a year until starting a PGCE. Again, it's necessary to gain experience while also surviving and living. Likewise, they certainly don't care retention if they think a CS money is 'o.k'.
  20. rosievoice

    rosievoice Star commenter

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