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covering classes

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by kanddd, Sep 21, 2007.

  1. could anybody help me please. I am a level 3 TA. There are three of us and we cover classes. One of the TAs says that we should only cover classes in cases of emergency and 'cover' is all we should do. Of course we know that means helping the children where necessary. But we are told by the deputy head which classes need covering weeks in advance and then left with the planning for us toget on with the class. Which is correct?
  2. could anybody help me please. I am a level 3 TA. There are three of us and we cover classes. One of the TAs says that we should only cover classes in cases of emergency and 'cover' is all we should do. Of course we know that means helping the children where necessary. But we are told by the deputy head which classes need covering weeks in advance and then left with the planning for us toget on with the class. Which is correct?
  3. we get the 'lessons' fr the classes we cover each day! Can I ask what LEA you are in as we're paid at TA2!!
  4. bluebell27

    bluebell27 New commenter

    Well I'm a level 4 TA and am only required to cover classes in an emergency, IE: if a road is blocked and my teacher is stuck I will bring the class in ,register them and do something with them until she arrives.
    Occasionally I will be asked to cover if our regular supply teacher is booked elsewhere in school and the teacher might want to go on a course. In that case the teacher plans the lessons and I deliver them.
    This only happened 3 times for two Ks1 classes support in last year in total.

    My regular slot for PPA cover is different though as I do enrichment work [PSHE] For that I plan my own lessons and assessments and report to the head teacher who is responsible for PSHE.

    I am paid double time for any time I take a whole class.

    I think it depends on individual head teachers on how they interpret covering classes. I have to say my school do try to get supply in first before asking us for general cover. [apart from the PPA]
  5. giraffe

    giraffe New commenter

    TAs ought not cover classes at all. That is what teachers do.
  6. Cover Supervisors don't teach...they are supposed to have the work prepared and it is handed out and collected in and you deal with management and behaviour issues whilst there.

    If you are primary, you will end up doing some incidental teaching, but what you are asked to do is simply taking the ****. You are being used as a cheap teacher and it is quite wrong.

    And yes, it is supposed to be short term emergency cover...not preplanned for weeks in advance.
    If this is the way it is going, it is all falling apart. I should point out the guidelines for cover sup's.
  7. I work as an HLTA in a Primary School covering more than a dozen lessons per week, some with over thirty pupils.
    I do my own planning, marking and assessments. I get nothing like the same support in the the form of a teaching assistant as the teachers do.
    I love my job and it certainly keeps me on my toes. It does however stick in your throat slightly when an occaisional remark is heard from some disgruntled teaching staff, such as 'You're not actually teaching the class, just covering it!' Huh???
  8. Jude Fawley

    Jude Fawley Star commenter

    Do you guys seriously want to carry on breaking the law?

    Next time you go to the dentist don't be surprised if the dental nurse starts drilling your teeth.

    Would you seriously allow your own children to have this educational experience?

    Say "No" to any form of full teaching work. You won't be covered by insurance and you'll go to prison if anything goes wrong in a full teaching situation without a qualified teacher present.
  9. Jude Fawley

    Jude Fawley Star commenter

    Bluebell 27

    You're paid double time if you do any teaching?

    Your headteacher is a disgrace to the profession and should be drummed out of teaching tomorrow and banned from teaching for life.

    God help the students at your school!

    Go to your headteacher at once, report this breaking of the law to your LEA.

    Have the headteacher removed forthwith.
  10. Jude Fawley

    Jude Fawley Star commenter


    I read your post with interest.

    I don't know what HLTA stands for. Is it Higher Level Teaching Assistant?

    You state: "I get nothing like the same support in the form of a teaching assistant as the teachers do".

    It's beyond me.

    I know little of what goes on in primary schools these days but, are you actually saying that you are surprised you don't have a teaching assistant?

    So, how does it work?

    Does your school have different levels of teaching assistants?

    Would your school have a teaching assistant involved in the full teaching role for thirty hours a week without a qualified teacher ever present?

    Are you saying that a teaching assistant needs the support of a teaching assistant to be able to carry out their duties?

    Where are the qualified teachers in your school?

    Have you got a NQT in their first year of teaching working as the headteacher at your school?

    Is your headteacher out and about inspecting other schools?

    Would you be surprised if a Police Community Support Officer attempted to arrest you?

    Would you be surprised if a second year law student presided at your trial?

    Would you be surprised if a care assistant tried to make a full medical examination of a patient and then gave out a prescription?

    Would you be surprised if a nurse attempted to carry out surgery on a patient?

    Would you be surprised if, in the event of a fire at your school, the boy scouts arrived to tackle the blaze?

    Is what you are doing re 'teaching' legal?

    If you feel/know it is, can you direct me to the legislation?

    What do you tell the parents at parents' evening?

    I respect your status as a HLTA and in no way wish to undermine your qualifications and experience.

    If you have any doubts about the role you're engaged in please contact the dfes and your LEA.

    I can't think I know enough about what is allowed by law.

    I have a strong suspicion that your school is breaking the law and on that basis your headteacher should be removed from their post.

    What do your school governors have to say about this situation?

    Have you asked the students and their parents about the provision?

    What does your union say about the situation?

    What does the law say about the situation?

    I'm totally baffled!

    Can you or anyone on this forum enlighten me?
  11. Hi Jude!

    I have a strong suspicion that you are talking out of an orifice which is usually used for discharging a completely different sort of rubbish.

    Please go away and inform yourself properly about the issues before laying into TAs.
  12. Jude - There are lots of headteachers who bend the rules, by leaning on the support staff to suit themselves.
    Take ours for example - has asked me and another grade 1 TA twice in the last 12 months to cover an afternoon art class whilst the teacher was out.
    At the last minute (so its very difficult to say no, head walks away before even finishing sentence).

    We did not get a choice, and when you say "say no", you have obviously never worked anywhere where your life is made a complete and utter misery if you dare to stand up to something which you know is wrong.

    We do, and we have!

    The teachers side with the head (very biased version fed to them, and I've seen it done). TAs don't go to the management meetings, so no chance of righting things there, and the atmosphere is dreadful, and the TA is made out to be the TROUBLEMAKER.
  13. Jude do you have a lot of time on your hands? It looks like it to me. Why not do a bit of research and you never know you might learn something. It's quite easy google is your friend!

    Either that or go and do your trolling elsewhere.
  14. Jude,
    (I know little of what goes on in primary schools these days)
    Dare I say, it shows just a tad! Yet you seem to think you're in a very good position to not only preach to us lesser beings, but also belittle our level of intelligence and professionalism. E.G.Firefighters/boy scouts, How utterly narrow minded.

    (Are you actually saying that you are surprised you don't have a teaching assistant?)
    Actually, yes I am! When I cover PPA lessons (A new concept for those like yourself 'Not in the know') I am delivering my own lesson to whole classes-that I have planned and qualified to do so (Google-HLTA) Qualified teachers in this position recieve a level of support. Why shouldn't I? especially in light of the fact that people like me just aren't up to it!!
    I actually think that in my particular setting the children are familiar with me, as I am with them and their individual needs. I feel I am in a better position than some of the supply teachers
    we get in the school who, because in a strange environment need a huge level of support with using the photocopier alone!

    Why on earth do some people presume that all TA's/HLTA's are stupid unqualifed people. I have had Five years college to get to the level I am. yet still unbelievably, in the year 2007!! people who clearly haven't got a clue think we're only good enough to help children read/ colour in or, at a push sharpen pencils!

    Sorry Jude, didn't quite catch what your role in education was?
  15. I've only just discovered this site as a link from the open university, where have you been all of my life!!! I need a bit of updating, I've not worked in England for over two years, leaving just before PPA was introduced. I used to be an Advanced Teaching Assistant (Nth Yorkshire LEA). I'm intrigued as to the labels your using i.e. TA2, TA3 etc.
    Is this the result of the workforce remodelling? Does each grade carry result in a higher (lol) salary?
    Is this countrywide or have I picked up a thread where you are all in the same county?
    Hope you will take pity on a poor exile and fill me in.
    Many thanks
  16. Jude Fawley

    Jude Fawley Star commenter

    Re your replies to my post.

    Nowhere have I stated or suggested that TAs of whatever level are in any way 'stupid' or unprofessional.


    There's no disrespect in what I say in my post. I'm not 'laying into TAs'.


    If headteachers 'bend the rules' report them.

    If they give you duties you know are leaving you vulnerable you must follow them when they walk away and challenge them on the legality of their plans.

    Believe me, I have challenged any headteacher or teacher who discredits the profession and it has cost me everything at times i.e. job, income, home,reputation etc etc.

    I don't give in to them if I know they are putting students at risk or 'bending the rules' i.e. acting in a way or suggesting others act in a way that is frankly illegal.


    I don't have a great deal of time on my hands but I fight for justice for students and will never give up on doing this whatever it costs me -and I mean whatever it costs me.


    You're correct. I did say I don't know what goes on in primary schools these days.

    That's why I asked the question.

    You will be more familiar with the children than the supply teachers.

    But while the children don't have a permanent and regular teacher they can grow to know, and vice versa, the situation will never change.

    Re my role in education.

    I am a qualified Further Education lecturer in Inclusive Education and a qualified Skills for Life lecturer in Literacy and Numeracy.

    My work is in mainstream philosophy with particular emphasis on epistemology -this encompassing the philosophy of education.

    I have taught in Inclusive schools (age 4-19), for SCOPE in a residential school, taught children permanently excluded from mainstream school (scheduale one offenders), on supply in several mainstream middle and upper schools,A Level philosophy in F E colleges, in community education, in educational outreach in the community, on contract (through my own company) to several housing organisations and provided home tuition GCSE and A Level tuition in Philosophy, English Literature and Language and Mathematics.

    I have taught alone, as a team teacher with up to two other teachers, taught in classroom situations with three teaching assistants, a care support worker and a physiotherapist.

    I have lived this eclectic life as a professional teacher for twelve years.

    I have the utmost respect for teaching assistants.

    I see teaching assistants as professinals.

    When I work with teaching assistants I maintain that I will not fail them. I have never shirked at any work and you will find me cleaning tables, the floor, making the tea and, though I will not leave the classroom in teaching time while students are present, I have no pretentions about my status amongst other professionals.

    My main concern is the student.

    This is why I'm trying to get my head around what's going on with education and the obvious abuse of the role of various level teaching assistants by so-called professional headteachers and teachers.

    It's simply a matter of asking one question when one is in an educational establishment.

    "Is what I'm doing within the law".

    So, is what I'm doing mopping up spilt paint or cleaning tables in the teaching environment, within the law?

    I make sure it is, because I don't unload on others when I can carry out that task without neglecting my students.

    There have been a lot of changes in legislation re teaching environments and I do know them all.

    I do, however, maintain that the teaching role should (I'm not saying it is the case)be carried out by a correctly qualified teacher.

    It's about praxis.

    We teachers don't always say a lot about the theory side of our studies and it's not always practical to quote Gribble, R S Peters, Wittgenstein or Gilbert Ryle's ideas on 'Knowing How' and 'Knowing That'(and replies from Jane Roland: see Language and Concepts in Education eds B. O. Smith and R. H. Ennis)while your busy actually physically and mentally and emotionally teaching a discipline.

    There are certain core units to any BEd, PGCE or Cert Ed that involve areas of theory which inform the trainee teacher and prepare them for their work post qualification.

    Successive governments have failed (it's debateable and another area of studies in education -one might chose it as a dissertation) students repeatedly by chipping away at standards in education.

    Some teachers are aware of this and subsequently have built a whole philosophy and practice: therefore praxis into their own personal and professional conduct in the educational establishment.

    Some teachers haven't chosen to study these areas of concern and they tend to go far in education. They have what one might call a 'pragmatic' approach to education.

    Our only concern (I argue) is that we must always stay within the law.

    Over recent years, teaching assistants have been used as pawns by some teachers.

    I'll read up on current primary practice.

    I sincerely hope that you will read up on educational theory and consider if what is happening is really helping students.
  17. Jude,

    No one is breaking the law if they are covering classes. Please quote the law passage which corroborates your statement. My understanding is that concerning TAs - heads can put who ever they like in front of a class if they deem them capable enough.

    Delivering lessons during PPA time is specified work and not covering.

    TAs take on the teaching role as you put it when they work with children 1:1, in small groups and in whole class situations. By teaching role I mean furthering a child's knowledge and learning. Perhaps you mean something different?
  18. Jude...

    Current primary practice allows TAs to take classes during a teachers PPA time because this is the way the government have designed it, so that teachers can have 10% non-contact time which is supposed to help them achieve a healthy work/life balance.

    It is perfectly legal; a certain regulation was ammended so that those other than teachers could do 'specified work'. In actual fact, if a HT is happy with TAs working in schools rather than supply, she can ask any TA to do it and some do not get additional money for doing so.

    Where I work, there are 2 levels of HLTA; one plans for herself and the other does not. And yes some do have another adult in support whilst they are teaching.
    In my class there ia a TA teaching for 1 day a week, and she does her own planning, but the class teacher is supposed to have an overview of what is going on. In this respect, some are really helpful and others cannot be bothered to get involved.

    As well as PPA cover, TAs also do 'Cover Supervision'.

    In a primary school this is a strange position because the guidelines state that you should not teach and are there basically for crowd control and using the in-house behaviour policy.
    However in the primary age range it is impossible not to teach, even with the work prepared (and this does not always happen although it should do). CSs get told to cover sometimes the moment they arrive at school so there is no knowledge or forethought often, about what the children are doing. In these circumstances it is very much getting your head round it as you go along.
    When nothing is planned you might be asked to 'do' maths or "Give some input before they do page whatever"
    I have spent a whole afternoon doing an art activity completely off the top of my head, but this is not supposed to happen, but HTs will use whatever talents she feels the TAs have.

    It is because of this siuation that some supply teachers are finding it hard to get work.

    From the schools point of view of course, it is infinitely cheaper to use TAs.
  19. Galadriel1, your last point about being cheaper is definately the one that the head thinks of first! Some heads, including ours, do not think about the talents/experience the support staff have it's purely a case of saving money
  20. Jude Fawley

    Jude Fawley Star commenter

    Thankyou for the information.

    I have begun to look in more depth at the issues discussed.

    I still maintain that teaching assistants need to be very careful not to allow themselves to be forced by teachers and headteachers into situations where they (the TAs) are at risk of breaking the law.

    I initially found cajsa's concern "I get nothing like the same support in the form of a teaching assistant as the teachers do" concerning in itself.

    I hope cajsa means "the teaching gets nothing like the same support".

    I can only state the following:

    There are teachers. They teach. Teaching is not restricted to classroom practice but encompasses planning (including planning the amount of assistance the teaching requires).

    There is no role in primary and secondary education as a 'teacher's assistant'. Likewise, there is no role in primary or secondary education as 'an assistant teacher'.

    (Please don't tell me this has changes also!)

    TA's of whatever level are assisting the teaching. The teaching is the responsibility of the teacher.

    Therefore HLTA's do not have assistants. It is the teaching that is assisted.

    If the teacher is not, at all times, aware of what is being carried out re the teaching they are responsible for, they are then a failing teacher and need disciplining and retraining.

    A teacher with responsibility for an activity of teaching should know:

    Who is being taught: the class group, its identity re year,the subject being taught, the level of the subject matter being taught i.e. Key Stage,what differentation is required and if that provision is in place; who, in regard of staff, is present with the students (this to include any trainee teachers on placement or the identity of a supply teacher),that there is adequate staffing for teaching to go ahead in a safe and lawful manner,what form of assessment of students progress is being used and the duration of the teaching activity.

    The above are my own standards and I believe they are a minimum standard any parent would expect in the educational provision for their child.

    I'm sure it's nothing like this and I'm sorry if it isn't.

    Any professional head teacher should be prepared to contact parents and ask them to collect their children from the school at any time if the school cannot at that time provide the safe and lawful minimum of provision.

    There should (I feel) be only two levels of seniority.

    The headteacher's responsibility to be aware of where they can discover, at any time, the person responsible for the teaching activity (the qualified teacher).

    The teacher's responsibility to know, at any time, the situation their students are in.

    The teacher should be able, at any time, to give an account of the teaching situation to the headteacher.

    That is the first level of responsibility.

    The second level of responsibility is that of all teaching assistants to take direction from the teacher (whose main concern is the student).

    Teaching assistants should not be working in an hierarchy in that they are directing other teaching assistants (that is the responsibility of the teacher and, ultimately the headteacher).

    All staff are assisting (enabling) the teaching of the students to progress.

    There will of course be intermediate levels of responsibility i.e. Heads of Year and subject coordinators (example: Head of English).

    I'm sure it's nothing like this. I've worked on supply in schools in special measures.

    What it appears is happening, from some of the posts on this forum, is that some schools and colleges are continuously in crisis and employees are battling to save the situation -this resulting in employees becoming stressed and unwell and students suffering as a result.

    I can't see it will ever change because it seems that this is the very nature of 'education'.

    It's important we protect our students by protecting ourselves. We mustn't become implicated in bad or unlawful practice.

    I'm sure most staff don't.

    We must inform the correct authorities when we see such practice.

    Maybe nothing will be done.

    But at least we will have tried and, if a disaster occurs, we will have done all in our power to avert it.


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