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HLTA overload and a kick in the teeth

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by jsandever82, Mar 21, 2018.

  1. jsandever82

    jsandever82 New commenter

    Hello, I’m just curious to know what other HLTA workloads and expectations are like? After giving up teaching I was an assessor for 14months, before I was pushed out by my head of department. I then took a job as a HLTA and have been working in this role since June 2016.

    However I’m hearing lots of different things about workload and at present feel like I’m being used to save money on a PPA teacher. I work as a duo with a lady who has no formal teaching experience and at present would say that 80% of our timetable is PPA cover and the rest 2 hours planning, being used as a general TA in yr6 and then interventions.

    I’m quite wary that we are planning more than we should and I have ended up in trouble this evening, as I pulled some smoking bits off the TES website as rushing to plan a year 6 lesson on smoking, taken from the PSHE unit drug education. due to only having a short time for PPA I will confess I printed off a nice diamond 9 activity, but stupidly gave the kids some pictures from cigarette packets which were a little graphic, I just didn’t think at the time as I had already spent 25 minutes trying to find something appropriate, sadly some children took to the pictures negatively and were left upset, I cried on the way home as I’m now worried about what will happen to me next.

    Despite this I feel that there should have been activities and slides given to us by the teachers as I’m not paid to do the planning and have been advised by my union previously that we should be planning under the guidance of a teacher, which I don’t feel has been happening in some year groups. In fact we are creating slide shows and finding worksheets for some of the lessons we are given. We are then expected to trim down worksheets so they can be stuck in books. This is really time consuming and I often find that I have to stay later to get things prepared. I am literally running from one class to another on some days.

    Marking on the other hand is ok as it’s just a signature and a tick, which is easy enough.

    Is this normal for a HLTA as a teacher I was used to it but we never had HLTA in my school so I don’t know what the expectations are. Is this type of workload normal?

    I’m also coming home in tears some days, (especially Wednesday-yr6 PPA in pm) as the behaviour of the year 6 class I cover for is appalling, I’ve never had to deal with such rudeness and feel totally demoralised every time I leave them, I feel like I’m behaviour managing more than delivering a lesson. Despite SLT being fully aware I sadly feel alone and i don’t know what else to do,there are days when I just want to walk out of the class and tell the head she can find someone else to cover the class and a new HLTA.

    There was also an incident the other week where I was called a stupid ***** by a child and was shocked, as in my previous years of teaching have never been spoken to like this. However despite being told the child had been punished the following day he spent the morning with a councillor and then was in class for the rest of the day. I was mortified as I felt he needed to be excluded from class as this would be something that other schools would ensure. I feel that he’s got away with it sadly.

    I’ve never felt so low in a job before and morale amongst TAs is also low due to behaviour across KS2 in particular. I just want to jack the job in but can’t due to having a mortgage and children. I just don’t know what to do
  2. hubcap

    hubcap New commenter

    I feel so sorry for you. As HLTAs we are the on the middle ground, we cannot be called teachers, although we teach, plan and Mark, but we are expected to be more responsible than TAs.
    The problem is that headteachers do not really know the rules for HLTAs until something happens and the unions become involved. Even HLTAs do not know the rules on what they should and shouldn't do!
    Talk to your union and find out all the rules for HLTAs and how they can help you in this case.
    Keep going, everyone makes mistakes, have a meeting with the head teacher about behaviour.
    Good luck.
    Supplylady and pepper5 like this.
  3. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    Hi jsandever, I echo what hubcup has said. Please don't keep feeling guilty about the smoking thing - you were under enormous pressure and having to do far too much. We've all slipped up and made wrong choices in that situation. I can't imagine that any action will be taken; you are clearly far too valuable an asset to your school! Put it behind you and move on.

    As for HLTA expectations and workloads - I work with HLTAs across our LA and beyond, and can only say that it varies enormously. Some are still working in much the same way as TAs, they just tend to have more autonomy when delivering interventions - some planning and marking. But they are few and far between - the majority of HLTAs I work with are in pretty much the same position as you. Schools can use HLTAs exactly as they want to; I have even spoken to a HLTA who was so fed up that she asked her school if she could go back to being a TA (with the small salary drop) and was told that there were no TA vacancies, it was her HLTA role or nothing! There are HLTAs on a full-time PPA cover timetable - but all work is planned and there is no marking involved. Others (the majority) are like you - several sessions of cover, minimal planning given (often only a learning objective), some marking expected - and everything else from interventions to playground duty! That's how my timetable is, but I am paid for a lot of hours (before and after school) and I do have an afternoon for PPA.

    Also sympathise (and empathise) with your Year 6 PPA cover - I'm finding ours are 11 going on 15 this year!

    Would be interested to hear what the union have to say - I don't think it will be useful as I don't think they will have any guidelines at all about HLTA roles ....

    It's horrible to feel this low about your job, especially as you are clearly very good at it. Think about what is upsetting you most this weekend - make a list. Can you think of any ways round the problems, or anything that could make the situation even a little better? Make an appointment for a talk with either your head teacher, deputy or line manager - it depends on your school. Without having a huge list of 'this is all wrong' things, explain that you are struggling with (a) and (b) and, if possible, suggest some ways the problems could be alleviated.

    Spoil yourself this weekend and I hope you feel better x
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  4. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    Why are you doing this job. It sounds horrible

    you you are going to be planning,teaching, marking, working all hour whilst being verbally abused and not supported, why don't you do it for a teacher's salary.
  5. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    Sadly, the behaviour you describe is very common. I work in some very disorganised and chaotic secondary schools as a supply teacher and if you could follow me around for one day, I think you would be shocked.

    The poor behaviour starts in the primaries and when the students get a bit older and bigger, it intensifies when they reach secondary. It is becoming more and more difficult to find schools where basic routines and rules are established and where I can go in and have an o.k. day. I am not exaggerating when it is like a battle. You go in and expect the rudeness and disruption to start immediately and in some classes it is impossible even to take a register. There are many secondary schools where I live, but only three where I know I can go to and have a reasonable day.

    You are fighting a losing battle where you are as it does not sound as though the SLT will change things as change will always start with the management of a school.

    Are there any better managed schools near you? Places that have a good reputation?

    The other option is to retrain for something else outside education which is more problematic, but you could plan a change in small steps. If you had a plan that might make where you are more bearable.

    Also, you might want to call the Education Support Partnership which although they may not be able to make changes, they are a good source of support and a listening ear.

    Definitely start formulating a plan to leave since where you are sounds terrible in terms of how it is managed; SLT should take charge and ensure classes are behaving. It is not even in terms of punishing the class, but TEACHING them how to be polite and respectful to their teachers.
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  6. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    Sounds like a job for a moderator...
  7. galerider123

    galerider123 Lead commenter

    Do the classes that you support not have TAs? Surely they should be trimming and sticking in.
    You certainly shouldn't be doing more than the class teacher would. You are currently working as an underpaid teacher. Are you particularly strong in one subject? Perhaps you could suggest that you teach a particular subject across the school as part of PPA cover (music,MFL, science,whatever) that normally comes in PPA length lessons. We have teachers who do this in our school. That way you get a scheme of work that is more limited, and get to play to your strengths, which might make it more bearable.
  8. fredhaise

    fredhaise New commenter

    I have read this thread with interest, because I have been having concerns regarding my situation.

    I'm a former teacher, who, to try to regain a more realistic worklife balance, took a change of direction into the HLTA role. For a year or two, it was fine: about 60-70% of a week was cover (so I was like the in-house supply teacher), some 1-to-1s and even a few admin jobs, if I wasn't needed for the above.

    All that changed last summer when the school had to make big savings reducing their support staff; redefining my role & I now find myself in a very similar position to the OPeer: a pretty full and regular timetable covering PPA (but in Primary). Furthermore, these classes I see week in, week out so I am getting tested out by the kids who push me way beyond how they would their regular teacher. Also, unlike last year, I'm often the only adult in the class, whereas previously there was a TA also. Most of the lessons are planned, but sometimes the plan on paper can be quite difficult to implement. Especially practical things, like science, when all the prep is down to me. Very quickly, (by about October) I realised that on my contracted hours, I would struggle with the marking aspect of the role and this has indeed been the case. I'm very frustrated by the fact that when I first took on this job, I was doing fine and my appraisals reflected that, yet even though I'm now working harder (and possibly as hard as when I was an NQT, many years ago) I doubt my next review will be a totally positive one. Yet it is the goalposts that have changed, not the job title or indeed the pay!

    It occurred to me recently, that I might raise this issue with management, possibly keep a detailed log of my paperwork activities and ask for additional pay (overtime)?? At present I feel I'm being pressured into doing the job that I used to do, but for only 2/3rds of the remuneration. What do other posters feel are my chances with that! (the school is not an Academy).
    Bumptious and pepper5 like this.
  9. frances_earnshaw1

    frances_earnshaw1 New commenter

    "I was doing fine and my appraisals reflected that, yet even though I'm now working harder (and possibly as hard as when I was an NQT, many years ago) I doubt my next review will be a totally positive one. Yet it is the goalposts that have changed, not the job title or indeed the pay!"

    I have quoted that bit of your post, but quite honestly, your whole post reflects the attitude of systematic abuse of HLTAs and TAs I am seeing on this board. There are few industries where workers would put up with the workload being piled on and the abuse at work.
  10. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    Hi fredhaise, as a HLTA I can sympathise and empathise with your situation, especially with the kids 'pushing' you. It might be worth keeping a log of everything you do (and the time it takes you). As a HLTA, you are probably hourly paid, so make sure you detail all the hours you work over and above those you are paid for. I wouldn't hold out much hope, but the school won't want to lose an ex-teacher who is successfully covering classes throughout the school and actively teaching core subjects - so you never know. If you don't ask, you certainly don't get - and it has worked for me in the past. Good luck!
    Supplylady likes this.
  11. Ophelia 9

    Ophelia 9 New commenter

    "However despite being told the child had been punished the following day he spent the morning with a councillor and then was in class for the rest of the day. I was mortified as I felt he needed to be excluded from class as this would be something that other schools would ensure. I feel that he’s got away with it sadly. "

    This is the world I now work in - child behaves appallingly, abusing members of staff and is sent to a counsellor (who was brought in at considerable cost). They are then returned to class without apologising to staff member and child is allowed to leave the classroom whenever they feel they need to have 'support'! Expectations of all staff, including HLTAs, are ridiculous and there is an atmosphere of fear and threat constantly - this appears to be commonplace in schools now. I am not unaware or unsupportive of children receiving social and emotional support if that's what needed to help them manage their behaviour and learning - in fact, I think it's very important that this happens - but there are children (and often their parents too) who are allowed to behave in a wholly inappropriate manner and SMT will not do anything about it.
    pepper5 and sunshineneeded like this.
  12. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    Very well put, Ophelia - your description is the way things are throughout the system today and I'm sure there are many out there - teachers, TAs and HLTAs - who will agree.
    Supplylady, Catgirl1964 and pepper5 like this.
  13. Wotton

    Wotton Lead commenter

    When I worked as an HLTA I complained every time I was left on my own with the class as all the teachers had a TA and were not on their own.
    Supplylady, fredhaise and pepper5 like this.
  14. snugglepot

    snugglepot Occasional commenter

    I run intervention and cover PPA and often get pulled off my job to cover classes for supply. I plan, teach and mark. This year was the first time I have ever had a TA in class. Even when I had a difficult class with children with behaviour problems I never had a TA to support.
    I don't receive any extra pay even when I cover. Last week it took me until 5:20 pm to mark all the work and stick in all the sheets. The teacher had asked that this lesson was completed. I received a five minute chat at lunchtime that was the sum total of planning!
    I am finding this harder as I get older.
    I kept three in the following day because they hadn't completed their work due to their behaviour. I think they now have my measure!
    SarahPayne79 likes this.
  15. Supplylady

    Supplylady New commenter

    Like many other assistants I teach interventions and carry out PPA cover in the afternoons. When anyone is off I cover their lessons. There is a lot of marking. It can take ages to provide lessons if the teacher is off at short notice. This then means I am behind with own my interventions and normal PPA cover. It can mean spending an extra hour in the morning and after school rushing around preparing resources and sometimes preparing work in the evening at home because school is closing. I think it has become the norm now for TA staff to cover, which is a shame.
    SarahPayne79 likes this.
  16. Supplylady

    Supplylady New commenter

    Completely agree with this.
  17. sweetheart60

    sweetheart60 New commenter

    JSander. your post could have been written by myself. Recently I have had several experiences which are identical to yours.In particular I had problems with the Year 6 children and asked to be removed from them and teach another Year group for PPA. I was increasingly stressed and upset , I sent e mails to the SLT and these were ignored. Finally on Thursday last week I ended up feeling almost suicidal . I contacted 111 and I have been signed off sick. Also several members of staff complained about me. As a result of all of this I have acquired an anxiety stammer. Like you I cannot give up. I had been a teacher but opted to become an HLTA as I thought it would be less stressful- not so. Good Luck
    sunshineneeded and Supplylady like this.
  18. Supplylady

    Supplylady New commenter

    These posts are interesting and it is helpful knowing that other people (who have been teachers and opted for HLTA for a better work-life balance) have discovered they are covering more and more in school. Also I have found myself covering more and more due to short-term staff illness and have lost several afternoons of PPA over the year. I am currently in the middle of writing reports for 4 classes that I teach. It is a whole weekend job. People may argue that it isn't a whole report for each child but writing a paragraph for each child in four classes is time- consuming. As HLTAs our pay is pro rata. At least by next weekend my reports will finally be finished and I can breathe out once again.
    sunshineneeded likes this.
  19. hayesc0

    hayesc0 New commenter

    I have just come across this while looking for some information about a change in my job and WOW I'm so glad I did. I've been an HLTA for a long, long time and I thought the school I'm in was just really poor on discipline but now I can see it's the same everywhere. I can truly sympathise with the person who said they would go home and cry after teaching an unruly year 6 class. I provide PPA cover every afternoon and have been working in the classroom supporting the class teacher each morning. I also provide class cover in the mornings occasionally but I'm not timetabled to do that. I run the school council and drive the school minibus. Obviously these are just some of the things I do, and I can see that we are all in the same boat, doing far more than we should be. I've now been informed that, as from September, I will be covering classes each morning while the NQTs have their time out of the classroom. I mentioned that I should not have to plan these lessons (when would I anyway? In my own time I suppose!) and was told that the NQT cannot plan lessons for the time they're out. So who will then? As far as I can see, there doesn't seem to be much difference between my job and the teachers. In the past a supply teacher would have been paid (and paid well) to cover classes, where as now it seems that TAs are used instead.
    sunshineneeded and Supplylady like this.
  20. Supplylady

    Supplylady New commenter

    With all the cuts that are happening, TAs and HLTAs will continue to have increased workloads.

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