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Covering classes with TAs

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by mrsmiggs14, Jun 29, 2019.

  1. mrsmiggs14

    mrsmiggs14 New commenter

    Hello all. I've just been appointed as head for a 1fe primary school that I've been assistant head at for 6 years. Head is going to lead a mat and deputy is retiring. I've had no say in staffing in my role to date but it has always concerned me about the level of ta cover.

    The current head has decided staffing for September The year 2 class has a ta covering for 2 days as the teacher is part time. The year 4 class is covered by a ta 2 days a week (class teacher is deputy so has an afternoon for leadership and only works 4 days) and HLTA covers for 2 days in year 1 to cover SENDCO.

    PPA in all classes is covered by a ta.

    The TAs are all amazing. They do a fantastic job and are as capable as many teachers- however they are not paid at the level of the teacher. The Hlta does all the planning and marking but gets no ppa time. The other TAs are given work by their teachers- but I was under the impression teachers didn't have to plan for their own ppa??
    I've been told that there is apparently enough in the budget for 2 more tas but surely we would be better getting another teacher- even part time to cover?

    Any advice? Obviously I may be very idealistic and naive to think teaching should always be delivered by teachers!! Thanks in advance
  2. Camokidmommy

    Camokidmommy Established commenter

    First thiught...
    Could you put two part time teachers together in one class -current year 1 and 2 class teachers, then get wither full time teacher for the other class. This would give greater consistency.
    Second thought, if you have TAs with specific expertise get them to delver across the school,mat least partly. We have an fantastic TA who teaches art better than the rest of us so we get her to do that.

    Don't know your budget but you could review after a year. TAs can be fab but shouldn't be used as teachers for that amount of time. As a parent I'd be cross.

    You should be making decisions about September.
  3. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Senior commenter

    Good to hear that you are at least concerned about this and prepared to look beyond simply filling spaces and keeping budgets down.
    I have not worked directly in primaries, but as a parent I would have expected my children to be taught by a teacher. Occasional cover by a TA is fine but not to the extent you are describing.
    My wife is an experienced primary teacher and has become increasingly concerned over time that TA's are taking on more and more teaching responsibilities.
    I fear that this will become the model in primary and secondary schools as teacher shortages and austerity force HT's to cut budgets.
    Also with your HT going on to head up a MAT, they will need to cut back savagely on staffing, both teachers and support staff in order to save enough money to pay their obscenely high salary.
  4. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    It's got nothing to do with teacher shortages, there were over 325,000 qualified teachers in the UK of working age (when the figures were last recorded in 2016) and a proportion of them want to get back into teaching. The DfE's return to teaching programme attracts tens of thousands primary and secondary qualified teachers. The DfE's subject specific return to teaching programmes, for Secondary Maths, Science and MFL teachers attracts thousands and after the training, very few secure paid jobs. There are loads of qualified primary teachers out there PAYING their own hard earned cash doing privately funded Return to Teaching programmes where they pay to work for free, with the simple aim of getting an up to date reference so that they can return and teach.

    Schools are just looking for the cheapest option and ripping off the TAs who are flattered that they are admired so much to be given the prestigious role of a class teacher. When they mess up, which will they will, they are severely punished when it is not their fault as they have not been trained for the job.

    A TA costs a fraction of an NQT so this is the way it's going to go.

    The result is that children are getting a very bad deal and it has been going on for so long and only getting worst. In secondary schools, the low sets are taught by TAs, ensuring that their chances of getting GCSEs at the end of KS4 is even lower.:(
    vannie, JohnJCazorla and Supplylady like this.
  5. thejudgesscoresarein

    thejudgesscoresarein Occasional commenter

    Does those TAs have QTS? If not, they should not be teaching classes. If it’s leading small intervention groups, that’s fine, but if they aren’t qualified, then they should not be undertaking the teacher role- it’s a complete mockery for this teachers out there that spent years at University to qualify for the job, and they put TAs in place to teach...
    You need to speak to the CoG and get another full time teacher appointed to cover these classes, otherwise you will be investigated (and potentially disciplined) when OFSTED inspect your school.
    I’ve been a Headteacher for 22 years now, and never in that time have I let a TA without QTS teach a lesson- I have a few TA’s now at the school that have QTS so they step up in absence of teachers, but it’s not permanent.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  6. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    The HLTA does all the planning and marking but gets no PPA? That's not on.
    Supplylady likes this.
  7. Supplylady

    Supplylady New commenter

    The HLTA should get more planning time because they are on less pay.
  8. Jonntyboy

    Jonntyboy Lead commenter

    This is not true in my experience, though if you or others have wide knowledge that it is, I'm prepared to be corrected.
  9. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    Well not in ALL secondary schools of course, but I am aware of several academies that use CVs and TAs to cover the lowest sets and don't believe in investing in QTs for them.

    I'm glad to hear in your neck of the woods, QTs are doing the job they have qualified to.:)
  10. Jonntyboy

    Jonntyboy Lead commenter

    Proper staffs in Staffs. :D

    More or less on topic, a friend told me earlier about a school advertising for a volunteer teacher to come in and help A level students with MFL conversation. No objection in principle, I don't think - it's something I might be happy to do if, say, I were living abroad and had the time to help the local kids with their English - but it did make me think...
  11. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    Glad to hear it.:)
  12. Caymem

    Caymem New commenter

    I agree with that they should at least get some time to plan
  13. mrjack

    mrjack Occasional commenter

    How about teachers teaching ? sums it all up when this is the kind of discussion headteachers are having.
  14. Caymem

    Caymem New commenter

    I Agree?

    I forgot to say I have a similar problem in my department i have to have classes covered by TA'S and cover teachers because the two part time teacher I have in the math's department works on the same day, if they worked together across the week then it would not be a problem so I have a TA cover for one of them for 3 days a week, I am trying to sort this problem for the three days the part time teacher is not there then other teacher will cover there lessons but is proving to be tricky at the moment due to the amount of teaching hours other teachers already have and the little amount of hours the teachers actually have left that they can teach for (1-3 hours). the other part time teacher does 3 days a week so has a cover teacher covering for 2 days a week which isn't as bad as a TA covering math's sets for 3 days a week, the cover teacher should not be left to cover the math's classes for two days a week. this is not ideal at all?

    do you have any suggestions on how I can get it so the TA does not have to cover math's classes for 3 days a week and how do I get it so the cover teacher is also not just covering Math's classes but is doing the job she applied for which is to cover classes, different classes not the same class all the time?

    how can I add the lessons to the other math's teachers when there timetables are all most full? any suggestions would be helpful?

    Please help me i'm, in a bit of a pickle at the moment.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
  15. phatsals

    phatsals Senior commenter

    Your P/T teachers shouldn't both be working on the same day. You need to look at your timetabling and organise the p/t staff to fit, be it m-w for one and t-f or whatever for the other.
  16. Caymem

    Caymem New commenter

    If i do that then I am a teacher short or do I redo the timetable so I don't need another teacher. I'll talk to the staff and see if I can get them working together throughout the week and see what I can do about the other lessons.

    If i can get them working together then what do I do about the other groups I don't have cover for.
  17. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Actually, sometimes timetablers prefer to have the p/t staff on the same day. In some schools, the number of maths sets in year 10/11 is one more than the fte number of staff. In order to be able to have that many sets taught simultaneously, both part-timers work the same days, and year 10/11 are timetabled for those days. KS3 is taught in half-year blocks, and falls disproportionately on the other days.
  18. Caymem

    Caymem New commenter

    So you are saying it is fine for me to have the part time members of staff that I have to work on the same days. How do I cover the work for the TA then(3 days) as I don't think that it is right for the TA to be given any lessons as they are not qualified. I also want to try and also get the cover teacher(who covers for us 2 days a week) we have back to just covering lessons. How do you suggest I do those things please?

    If i had the part time teachers working on different days then I could look at the work load the 4 members of staff has and move it around a bit so it is done by the two part time members of staff who work across the week and by other members of staff on the department who still has teaching hours to be allocated.

    What do you think? Any suggestions would be gratefully taken into consideration
  19. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I'm not saying it's fine for you, just that it can work either way. By the sounds of it your department just doesn't have enough staff, and I think your SLT needs to be involved in making these decisions, especially as you are obviously rather inexperienced. I would expect that by now the structure of the timetable has been determined, and so what is left is to allocate teachers to classes that are already on the timetable. If there are not enough qualified teachers to cover the classes, difficult decisions need to be made - do you hope to pick up a good supply teacher in September, or do you have your permanent staff teaching 2/3 lessons for each KS3 group, and setting work for the other one. Some schools have adopted even more radical schemes, such as having double-size groups with a lead teacher plus a cover supervisor. That depends on having a large enough teaching room, plus a teacher who can handle that size group. And with any solution that involves teachers teaching more pupils/groups than normal, consideration needs to be given to their marking-load.
  20. Caymem

    Caymem New commenter

    To solve some of the problem I could combine the two bottom sets together in each year group making bigger bottom set classes, currently in two bottom set classes for each year group is 16 students which when put together would make one big class of 32 in each year group. Do you think that would help to solve my teaching and timetable problems?

    The structure of the timetable is done I'm just working out who teachers what group. That information is not put on the timetable till a few days before the start of term as departments are still deciding who gets what group. Just to say each KS3 class gets 3 lessons a week with year 10 getting 4 and year 11 Getting 4 with one extra after school once a week.

    Also do you think our internal cover teacher and ta should be made to cover maths classes all year or not.

    We defo do not have enough staff in our department and need to get some more staff. Maybe I could get some new staff members for January which could then take over some of the work.

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