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Cover Work when absent

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by pencho, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    I know this is not necessarily maths related, but I do value's people's opinions on this board. If you have a member of staff who is regularly absent for 1 or 2 days and says they are too ill to set cover - is it possible to ask them to prepare a series of cover lessons in advance (on generic topics), so that they can be used when off sick. It's just when I get a call on a morning, I then have to find random work for them to do a lot of the time. Any one got any thoughts on this?

  2. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    I know this is not necessarily maths related, but I do value's people's opinions on this board. If you have a member of staff who is regularly absent for 1 or 2 days and says they are too ill to set cover - is it possible to ask them to prepare a series of cover lessons in advance (on generic topics), so that they can be used when off sick. It's just when I get a call on a morning, I then have to find random work for them to do a lot of the time. Any one got any thoughts on this?

  3. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    Isn't having a set of generic cover lessons available the responsibility of the Hod/2ic or whoever sets the cover rather than the member of staff who is sick?
    It is something that all staff could be asked to work on during gained time during the summer.
  4. IM not sure what the legal standpoint on it is as you are potentially suggesting you feel they are likely to chuck a sicky.
    Perhaps have a departmental policy to always have 3 generic lessons that can be rolled out for each class in their absence. So when they have used them they do not replicate them or at least cycle them over a period of 5 for example.
    I feel the response and get out of jail will be "I have no idea what the learners will need this far in advance" and potentially MAY be backed by unions or SLT.
    Perhaps a folder in the staff room for each member of staff where the HoD can just access the lesson, print off instructions and allow the cover to deliver it. 5 generic skills topics for each class per year would suffice.
    You could have an area on the network where each teacher dumps the work where you just print it off. They can build a bank of resources for each class and some can be shared and developed.
    I feel your pain and have been there in the past. My only concern is the suggestion of believing they will be having time off in the future.
    A typical generic lesson could be:
    Year 7s, middle set. Book A, pages 2/3/4 for all, advance to 6 for the stronger pupils.
    Outcomes - "understand inverse operations"
    Materials kept in x/y/z place
    At least sime form of learning goes on and the work for you is minimal in terms of worksheets and finding things to do
  5. DM

    DM New commenter

    You can ask every member of your Department to prepare a few cover lessons in advance (perhaps any gained time in the summer might be an appropriate time to do so) but you absolutely must not single out this teacher. Sorry if that is not what you wanted to hear.
  6. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    Thanks for the helpful responses. We will devote some departmental time to this.

  7. I've looked in to this, as I find organising cover work at 8.30 quite stressful and the quality and quantity of work suggested is very variable.

    My mentor told me that, as per the school policy, setting of cover work is the class teacher's responsibility and the organisation of it (resources etc) is down to the HoD, 2ic etc. He strongly advised against having generic cover work as in the past this increased the number of sick days (presumably people are more likely to take the time off if they don't have to worry about contacting the school with cover work).
  8. Depending on the culture of your kids you may also look to 'empower' 2-3 class cover support pupils who are able to get things moving (ie know where the specific books are for each given set lesson and collect work at the end etc etc). Allowing them access to the prepped lessons to help run things smoothly and often cuts your work out running around.
    I know a couple of my classes would have prime candidates to be 'helpers' and they also would like that structure, stability and responsibility.

  9. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    As HOD, I recognise it is my responsibility to deal with cover for absent teachers. Usually, teachers set sufficient and suitable cover work; sometimes that just isn't possible. Whatever the case, I always view it as my responsibility to check the suitability of such work. Where possible, I like to set the class off myself and, if I think there is better work to give them, I'll do this, and let the member of staff know. They have never complained yet. After all, it isn't me taking the time off... It's one thing to sit at home and think of a worksheet when one is sweating with 'flu. Its another to actually see the plan in action with a cover/supply teacher and a class of students getting ready for a lesson off....
    Usually, I set my own class a starter, dart out and sort out the class in question, and then get back to my own. Someone is bound to be along soon to point out the folly of leaving my lot on their own. However, that's what happens. I'd sooner make sure the class being covered are doing something useful, and their maths education isn't suffering too much.
    A while back, in my dept, there was a move to put together sets of worksheets which students could do in the case of absent teachers. These amounted, at best, to 'treading water'. I won't have that for the kids at our place. Such situations are another argument for having a good textbook in each classroom. This makes setting work comparatively easy. At least, the kids can practise a useful mathematical skill at the right level. Set up an example on the board. Talk to them about it. Set an exercise, a minimum expectation from all, extension work for those who finish, and a conspicuous reminder to the cover teacher that any undesirables can be sent to my room to work.
    It seems to work in our place.
  10. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    Thanks for your replies. I'm not saying I don't know how to set cover work and googolplex this is often what I do. I understand there are times when a member of staff may be unable to set cover work for whatever reasons. However I have not had the situation in the past where a colleague is so frequently absent and doesn't worry about setting cover work. It gets really frustrating. Thanks again for the advice.
  11. September

    September New commenter

    I understand what you are going through pencho. I have been HOD in two schools now and whilst most members will email me or phone me with their cover work if they are absent through illness there is a small number who do not and in my department I regularly have 2 members out for a period of time, where cover work needs to be set by me as one of the regular absentees is my 2ic. I am going to take up the advice on the generic work being set and keeping a bank. I have used a variety of tasks for cover work for absent colleagues but the pupils want a maths teacher in the classroom teaching them their mathematics and I have only been able to find 1 mathematics cover teacher from an agency who was good. We are shortly going to be getting computers in the classrooms and although I would not advocate the pupils being stuck in front of my maths for a period of time it will definitely help with the setting of cover work but until then I am at a loss. I would be happy for the students to sit and read for an hour but they do not always have their reading books with them.
    We are also looking into videos that the students can watch during their mathematics cover lessons which is fine for the odd lesson off but when you have to deal with long term absence with no mathematics teacher to cover then its a real shame for the pupils who are the ones that miss out in the end. And a big thank you to all the wonderful students across the country who do really well and cope quite remarkably with whatever work is set for them when their teacher is absent
  12. At my school it is pretty rare for members of the department to be away. We have some pre-prepared stand alone cover lessons that we made in gain time a couple of years back (as per suggestions above). In addition, we pair up in the department on a 'cover buddy' system so that if your buddy is away then you sort out the resources for them. The HoD still keeps an eye on things but at least it shares some of the responsibility. This obviously won't work too well if you have one member of staff who is away more frequently than others.
  13. September

    September New commenter

    We looked into the pairing up idea but no-one wanted to be paired with the regular absentees so I would have still ended up having to set their cover work anyway. I will be going into work on Monday knowing that I have to set cover work for 2 teachers already.
  14. pipipi

    pipipi New commenter

    That's not a nice Sunday feeling. Time for tenticks!
  15. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    We all have a folder of stand alone lessons for each class, so if/when we are away the folder can be opened and the work is ready to go. It really helps to know what they'll have been doing, and obviously it's easier for the HoD who would probably have been trying to teach his own class at the same time!
    It took about half an hour to prepare, which is probably less time than it would have taken to set work for one day when ill. Of course, if it's never needed, it's work wasted - so I use it in the last few days of the year when the syllabus is finished, tests are done etc.
  16. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    That's another thing that gets my goat - teachers who expect me to go round downloading and then photocopying reams of 10ticks sheets, especially when they have a textbook which has the same stuff in (albeit with exercises which contain fewer than 200 repetitive questions)
  17. And provided you didn't become an academy recently and have to pay for 10ticks all over again!

    Yes, I think we are lucky in our department in that it is rare people are away and when they are they do tend to set textbook work.

    So sorry to hear you have two people off already, that must be a major headache.
  18. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I had a virus at the end of the summer holidays one year, and with hindsight should have missed the first few days of term: I picked up everything going for the rest of term. I ran at 20% absence that term, but only a day or two at a time.
    I ended up keeping exercises in reserve, so that when I was next ill again, there was a pile of drill-and-practice ready. (We had two long-term absences at the time, so I think my HoD was grateful that I was managing to keep them supplied with work.)
    Saving exercises is perhaps not something you'd plan on doing all the time, but maybe there's sense in identifying odd things that might work for a one-off lesson at some point in the future.It's just prompted me to think about sorting out a lesson on time for my year 8s - they did very badly on a time question in their last test, and that's something I could prepare and keep in reserve.

    I was very grateful to my HoD the week before half-term. I caught a lurgy and missed every lesson with a group who have a GCSE module on Tuesday. I sent in what I could, but my HoD swapped in and taught them for one of the lessons.

    It sounds from that as if I'm ill all the time: I'm not, honest!
  19. pipipi

    pipipi New commenter

    Hope you're better now frustum!

    It is frustating setting cover work with 10 minutes to spare, and then you get the interruptions for paper and pens all day.
    But I've worked in places where every pupil has a textbook so it's easy to set something along the lines of reading the examples, and then doing the exercises. I've also worked in places where the cover supervisors could just about with catching the paper aeroplanes made from 10ticks sheets.
    I think it also depends if it is a short absence, a few days, or much longer.
    A few days cover can be just to go over something they have already done, even if it's the same exercise from a few months ago.
    If its a long time then new concepts have to be introduced and practiced, good luck with that!

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