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Cover teacher not following set work

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by MissHero, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. MissHero

    MissHero New commenter

    I've been out on trips (lucky me!) quite a few times recently, and have had my lessons covered by an in house cover supervisor. Several times I have returned to school to find my detailed, well explained and well resourced cover sheets annotated with 'students asked if they could do posters so we did that instead' type notes.

    I'm REALLY annoyed at how this person has completely failed to follow the instructions that I left. There have been no complaints about poor behaviour or any other mitigating circumstances which might have explained why she chose to let the students decide what to do(!), and as a result I am now returning to these classes to find them a week behind. Am I being naive to expect somebody who works at the school and knows the student to be able to supervise a basic but relevant lesson? Should I have just left videos for them to watch instead?!

    Given that this person is employed by the school, should I complain about this? And to whom? It has completely messed up my planning for what is already a short half term! Grr!

    For the record, this is NOT a rant about supply/cover in general, I have spent enough time doing that role myself to know that it is not an easy task and things don't always go to plan, but I'd never have dreamed of ignoring set work altogether.
  2. We've all been there. It's SO annoying, isn't it. The cover supervisors must have a line manager in school, possibly the person who arranges cover. Have a quiet word with them and you'll probably find that the individuals are well known for this. Also, just get in there and ask them why they didn't do the work you set. Cover supervisors often have such a bad time that they take the line of least resistance.
  3. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I would also speak to the CS's line manager and take the examples of the annotations. It is totally unacceptable.

    I'm primary so systems are slightly different, but I had a rather heated and frank rant at the line manager of the person who does my PPA cover the other day. For more or less the reasons you give, though I simply say what subjects are to be covered and the general topic and they are supposed to plan and teach the lessons. However it isn't happening.

    Totally understand your frustrations.
  4. Cervinia

    Cervinia Occasional commenter

    1st mistake- leaving 'detailed' lesson plans that the CS isn't qualified to (and thus probably can't effectively) follow and teach.
    2nd mistake- not going to said CS, finding out what they CAN teach and are comfortable with. Sorry- this situation is not the CS's fault and you'll look silly if you go crying to their line manager about it.
  5. phatsals

    phatsals Senior commenter

    The CS can't 'teach' anything, that's not what they're there for.

  6. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I don't think this is what has happened at all. Read the post carefully.
    Cover sheets NOT lesson plans. Supervise NOT teach.

    Totally ignoring instructions with the excuse that children wanted to 'do posters' is ridiculous. Definitely complain, even if you feel obliged to do it in the manner of 'I left these cover notes. Can you give me some advice about how I can change them for the future to ensure a CS can follow them, clearly I'm getting it wrong at the moment?'
  7. jazz2

    jazz2 New commenter

    OP didn't say anything about expecting the Cover Supervisor to teach.

    I, on the other hand, am rather slow ... [​IMG]
  8. MissHero

    MissHero New commenter

    By 'detailed', I mean 'these are the questions that the students will be answering, here are the key points that they should be making so you can give help if it is needed'.
  9. greta444

    greta444 New commenter

    Chil out! So what if you're a week behind. I often am and make it up somehow. Is your timetable so packed and rigid that you can't build in some flexibility.
    Good on the students choosing the way they want to work.
  10. Captain Obvious

    Captain Obvious New commenter

    Which is fine up to a point. But if instructions are left for tasks to be done, it's not unreasonable for at least some of them to be done.
  11. kittylion

    kittylion Senior commenter

    And doing a poster sounds a bit like a cop-out to me.
  12. anon8315

    anon8315 Established commenter

    I was signed off for three weeks recently and sent cover in every day only to discover it has been totally disregarded. It is really frustrating, more so because I know my cover lessons were good lessons and well resourced (by me.)
    The problem is I now have students asking "when are we going to finish the - - ?" and other questions: you weren't supposed to be DOING it!
  13. MissHero

    MissHero New commenter


    Also, the previous teacher was off a lot, and it's taken me a while to get them back into the routine of actually DOING work, so when I am unable to be there (not through choice, I'm not thrilled to be missing so much teaching time believe it or not!) having allowed them to break the routine I've just about got them into is going to make things much harder tomorrow :(
  14. emmadrg

    emmadrg New commenter

    Definitely complain to the CS line manager. If you've made the effort to leave decent cover work, they need to do their best to follow your instructions (they work under your instruction, after all). They instruct the students what to do, set them off on the tasks and make sure they complete the work set (as much as it is possible).
    It suggests this CS is weak and needs more training. This is why teachers get paid more and why getting in a supply teacher is worth it. I too have had weak CSs just doing whatever they wanted with my classes when I've been off. I came back from three days off with tonsilitis to a pile of posters and wordsearches - from a year 11 GCSE class, even though I had sent in cover work and extension tasks.
    BTW, not all CSs are like that. Some are very good and do their utmost to cover what you have left.
  15. I am currently working as a CS and I would NEVER choose to do anything other than the set work unless there were some very unusual circumstances. I would suggest, as others have, that the CS doesn't understand the work, or that they don't quite understand their role. In either case something would have to be said. I would consider approaching the person first and asking them what the problem was and explain that you rely on the set work to be done in your absence. Some CS assume that every teacher just sets work to tide the kids over until they get back and don't see the importance of some of the work.
  16. ThereAreBunniesInMyHead

    ThereAreBunniesInMyHead Occasional commenter

    I suffer from this too at my school. I have had quite a few days off over the last term for surgery on an old injury and have been careful to leave simple, well explained cover plans for the cover teacher, with an easy to understand worksheet / task sheet for the students etc.. as many of my lessons are GCSE and A-level it is important that the students DO the cover work as it is relevant to the unit they are doing and important for the exam etc.. I refuse to leave crosswords and wordsearches, and instead leave proper work, that the students can do without any help such as independent research / revision tasks etc

    When I went in for my last operation I left a task for my A-level students to revise the Marxist Media theories we had been studying and spend their triple lesson finding examples online that backed up the theory and then writing an essay (following an essay task sheet I had left on the desk). This wouldn't have involved any extra work on behalf of the cover teacher, and because they were a-level, it wouldn't have involved any behaviour management. Just simply taking the register and supervising them.

    When I got back from hospital I found that in their triple lesson the cover teacher had found some episodes of the Simpsons on You Tube and put 5 of them on for the students (for no apparent reason). The cover teacher had even left a note on the desk to say that "as it was a Friday he had let them watch the Simpsons because it was media related and it was "ok because she had gotten them to talk about it afterwards!" lol!

    In the past when I have been ill, I have dragged myself out of bed to write cover plans before, which often never get taught, and the sheets just stay on my desk.
  17. kittylion

    kittylion Senior commenter

    Sorry but that is just taking the mick - especially in a TRIPLE A Level lesson. What a waste of their time and yours.
  18. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    At least your A Level lessons are covered. Ours are not, and it drives me mad because it makes them think that they don't have to do the work they've been left.
  19. When possible, I tell the class in advance of the work I will be leaving and include it in assessment.
    Anyone who draws posters gets 0%.
    Not always possible - but better for the students as they can't make excuses for an easy afternoon and duck out of revision.

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