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Expected to plan, deliver and mark for absent colleague - into the fifth week

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by jacw, Feb 28, 2018.

  1. jacw

    jacw New commenter


    I work at an independent school, and one of my colleagues has sadly been off work with a bad back.

    The senior leadership team has given me sole responsibility for her sixth form teaching - communicated only through my head of department. I am expected to plan, deliver lessons and to mark their work. This is two A level sets.

    I understand and support colleagues who are signed off for long-term sick should not be setting one of the cover (although it does not seem like she is fully medically certificated – appointments keep being postponed). my head of department says I am the only person experienced enough to take care of her classes.

    I have a timetable remission for a middle management role but I am also expected to set cover for my own classes to free myself up for this A-level teaching. I have now received complaints from the A-level classes I'm teaching, even though I am really doing my best to keep them afloat.

    My contract says that I need to carry out any tasks deemed reasonable. I feel this is no longer reasonable. I am a member of a union, but it's quite hard to find out what help is available in the Independent sector.

    Any advice? it is starting to affect my mental health, I think.

    Vince_Ulam likes this.
  2. Cervinia

    Cervinia Occasional commenter

    If you think it’s beginning to affect your health, you need to visit your doctor.
  3. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    tall tales likes this.
  4. dodie102

    dodie102 Occasional commenter

    Have you had a frank discussion with your line manager about the impact this is having on you and 'your' classes? What can they take away from you (whilst not expecting you to write cover and mark) and your teaching if this expectation carries on.

    This does seem too much and really they need to address this absence in a more formal way. We've all helped out for absent colleagues but this has gone on long enough.

    I would contact your union but also try and meet with either your line manager or above.
    pepper5 and JohnJCazorla like this.
  5. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    Now, before it becomes entrenched and a much longer problem
  6. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    The longer you manage to 'cope' with this ludicrous extra burden, the more the school will expect you to continue doing so. if things go on as they are, the school will end up with two people of sick, instead of just one. If you are already 'getting complaints' from these A level classes, you need to do something before you are handed the blame for this situation.
  7. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    It's not. Bad backs aren't things that resolve themselves like a head cold or pregnancy. Even if your colleague returns next week then they'll likely be repeating this absence in the future and you would again be stuck with their workload unless you act now. Here is a suggested programme:
    1. Compose all of your concerns into an email and send this to SLT & HoD explaining that a week or so hence they must pass this workload to another colleague if you are to meet your own immediate obligations.
    2. Do not refuse to assist in the future should it be necessary.
    3. Do not refer explicitly to your mental health in this email but make clear the enormous practical burden of this double workload given your immediate obligations.
    4. If SLT & HoD dig in their heels then make a doctor's appointment - whatever it's for is your private business - it will concentrate HoD's mind marvellously.
    5. Follow this up with an email to SLT & HoD explaining that, per your previous email, you will cease to carry your absent colleague's workload from a particular date and they must make alternative arrangements.
    6. Any problems from there, call your union.
    7. Next time this burden arises, find reasons not to accept it.
    Good luck.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2018
    pepper5, jarndyce and dodie102 like this.
  8. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Are you saying you have a Head of Department with no A level expertise?
  9. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    She might not have the expertise in this particular subject
  10. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    You need to have a conversation with your HT about this if you feel it is affecting your health and your current roles.

    Question is though, why could this have not been split out across the whole department?
  11. yodaami2

    yodaami2 Lead commenter

    Sometimes these things cannot be easily distributed. I work in an enormous school but I’m the only teacher of my subject who could confidently be deployed to teach ALL areas of my A level subject. And it has happened over the years. “ oh really you want me to drop bottom set year 9 to take on x’s A level and top set year 11?” “ oh alright if I must, ” However I have never had to continue planning for droppped lessons. They are taking the proverbial! You must be strong and fight the fight. No rules at Indies though.
  12. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter

    Totally unreasonable. They should get a supply teacher in. They are not spending the money because you are happily for them nice and compliant. Go sick for a week with stress.
  13. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    I recall being a Head of Department in a school in measures - ( asked to apply for the post after a disasterous Ofsted but not for MFL ) and we found it impossible to get and retain staff. Long story short at one point I had three members of staff off sick/ stress . Cover / supply staff had left rooms = Armageddon. I was expected to plan and mark the work of all of their classes ( no exaggeration) and maintain tidy / stimulating classrooms. HMI visiting every six weeks ? At a meeting the new acting Head ( from Deputy keen to make a name for herself ) insisted that she was in her rights to demand this of me. I asked how many staff and for how long I should cover e.g. if other members just didn't turn in either ? ( These were the days of languages for all ) She asked to see me after the meeting. I went straight home. On reflection I think I should have contacted my Union but to be honest this did not occur to me. Culture of not bailing / showing weakness was prevalent. Different circumstances I know ...
  14. Eflmeister

    Eflmeister Occasional commenter

    That’s absolutely insane. Doing the job of four teachers? I wouldn’t have done it for more than a week. When I was HoD we had a situation where a key member of the team (with responsibilities) was off so I had to take on all that but the school took on a qualified supply teacher to do the day-to-day stuff. Thankfully!
    minnie me likes this.
  15. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    This was a long time ago and I suspect my loyalty to the school and the children took precedence. They were dark days and the staffing issue was never really resolved.This was in Knowsley - a very tough gig then and still I think. I learned a lot in measures to be fair which helped enormously in my career but yes my emotional resilience was tested massively whilst others were busy being ambitious and ruthless in their push for recognition and promotion. No longer part of any of that and my sympathy goes out to those who are .
  16. koopatroopa

    koopatroopa Senior commenter

    It's reasonable to expect you to take the senior classes but it should be a proper timetable change. Someone else should now be responsible for the classes removed from your timetable to fit the A level classes onto it.

    I would go along with a solution. Give the A level classes to you right through to the end of the year. Your classes go onto the absent teacher's timetable with the HoD setting work for a supply teacher in her absence. It provides continuity and expertise for the classes who most need it, gives you the chance to concentrate on exam classes and spreads the workload more equitably.
    lizziescat and Piranha like this.
  17. install

    install Star commenter

    Sounds stressful - see GP. If you are ill and GP agrees get your health sorted - that is more important than anything else here.

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