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Is it too easy to be 'off sick' in teaching?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by deleted358, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. I agree with you; some staff at my school frequently take time off on a regular basis, especailly when it is report time. I find this particularly annoying as we still have to cover absent staff. I don't understand why something is not done about it.
  2. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    Speak to your union. You soon should not be covering absent staff except in an emergency.
  3. You should be doing no more than 38hrs cover per year. And I am sick to death of covering for staff with dubious illnesses. Don't get me wrong, I totally understand when people are off for a valid reason and I won't even *** about the cover but when an individual is taking a few days here and then for unspecified viruses, I start to get a bit cross.
  4. I am a technician in a secondary school. I have worked there for about 12 years and have probable had about 8 days off sick in all that time. I often go to work ill as I know that nobody is going to do my work for me and when I do get back to work I will have to deal with all the mess made by teachers fending for themselves and then have to get that day's stuff ready with no notice at all. Teachers are lucky, somebody else does their work for them and, if they are not too ill they can catch up on all that marking without the teaching bit getting in the way!
  5. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    You are quite wrong. Many teachers, when too ill to come to work, are still expected to set cover work and send it into school via email. When I was off sick with flu' I was soooo poorly. I knew I'd be off the next day as I could barely lift my head off the pillow. I lay in bed with the laptop on my lap and attempted to type an email to my HOD outlinging my work for the next day: it took me nearly 3 hours to do this and to attach the necessary sheets. Most teachers, I'd say, feel the pressure to do this, even though technically we shouldn't have to. I know that if someone's work isn't received for whatever reason, I've heard the HOD and various other members of the department b1tching and moaning about the colleague in question.
    Moreover, once you return, no-one has actually done your work in your absence. They may have given the class the sheets you sent in and supervised them for an hour, but they haven't done the marking, they haven't actually checked the kids were doing the work you set from your deathbed and they certainly haven't ensured that all your equipment was left as tidily and present as you left it.
  6. Chica77

    Chica77 New commenter

    I was off sick earlier this term with flu, and I felt absolute sh*t (plus I was 6 months pregnant). I had to get up early, phone the school, text my HoD and then spend ages sending in cover work. Even when off sick, we are expected to send in lesson plans with starter, plenary etc and get moaned at if we don't do this. I teach MFL, so it also means setting cover that a non-linguist will be able to deal with.
    After 2 days off, I went back to school to find my classroom a complete tip - books and textbooks everywhere, tables moved, **** all over my desk, all my board pens missing etc. I could've cried. I had spent the 2 days in bed, not 'catching up with marking'.
  7. ilovesooty

    ilovesooty Star commenter

    Teaching doesn't have the flexibility or "reasonable adjustments" to allow people to keep on working if they're underpar but will be a lot better soon, as in my case.

    I've struggled through the pain and sleep deprivation I've suffered while waiting for a replacement hip operation, in one case coming to work when I'd had no sleep at all the night before. My manager has talked to me about how I can be supported, has told me to call in sick if I can't cope (I've had two days off since last June: caused by the results of struggling up 80 steps when the lift conked out) Since our chat I've taken the opportunity to come in an hour or so late in the morning if I don't have appointments first thing - I invariably stay at least half an hour after everyone else anyway.

    If I were still in teaching no one would or could have supported me like that.

    And as for the poster above who doesn't mind covering for "valid" reasons: who do you think you are to pass judgment over other people's reasons for being off? If there's a concern about people doing their work properly, it's a job for the HT, not for you.
  8. Perhaps I didn't express myself clearly but I know of a few people who have called in sick on festival days for example. I'm not making a judgement about how ill someone is, I'm talking about proper-skivvers. I'm having a generalised moan, not trying to pick on ill people - honest!
  9. ilovesooty

    ilovesooty Star commenter

    Thanks for explaining: still think the HT should be on top of it though!

    Interestingly, when I told my friend (who used to teach with me) about the support offered to me, his first concern was that my colleagues would gossip about my getting preferential treatment. I don't see any signs of that nor do I expect to. In any case, everyone's well aware in our unit that a) sickness goes against you in a redundancy situation b) if you're sick you're expected to rearrange all your appointments no matter how ill you feel and c) you're letting the team down. No one goes sick unless they're so ill they can't get there.

    I also think that teaching's inflexibility (ie holidays) encourages people to push themselves too far. I might get less than half teacher holidays, but I don't miss them. I can use A/L to pace myself.
  10. I agree the HT should be on top of it and to be fair he probably is but it's still annoying when you get stuck with a cover! I suspect that you and I work in rather different environments; I have to admit that my place is very supportive of people during illness (as they should be) and there is little sniping over illness cover. Legally there shouldn't be any link between sick days and redundancy but I realise that's pretty difficult to police.

    I agree with you on the inflexibility thing though - that's why most teachers spend the first week of the holidays in bed with flu!
  11. Obviously in a school, especially primary- you are bound to pick up all sorts of illnesses. One way to minimise them would be that children who are blatantly ill do not come into school- but with childcare costs etc I understand why this a problem for some parents.

    Still I think if teachers are ill they should be allowed to take time off to recover, as has been pointed out- teaching is an exhausting profession and you have to be on your feet all day. It makes sense that teachers take time off, once they recover they will be much more 'productive'. HT's giving people who are ill a hard time for absences is bang out of order. Obviously there are going to be people who take advantage of the system, but as with most things these people will be a minority.

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