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PPA advice please

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by chubbyone, Dec 19, 2015.

  1. chubbyone

    chubbyone Occasional commenter

    For the autumn term my PPA has been in the afternoon. Morning teaching time is 8.45-12.00 and afternoon is 1.00-3.15, so you basically get an hour more if you get PPA in the morning as opposed to the afternoon. This does rectify itself as it usually changes over termly. However got an email to say the PPA timetable was staying the same and this alone would not bother me BUT I then received an email to say that instead of a teacher covering my PPA, from January a HLTA will be doing it. The HLTA has sent a email to all the teachers she will be covering 'requesting' that we leave all the work for her and that she will not be marking any work.

    What do people think? I don't want to rock the boat, but part of me thinks this doesn't seem right on so many levels, as am I getting my correct entitlement of PPA? Should I plan and leave the work? Don't mind it as at least I know what they are doing but marking it?

    Suppose that will teach me opening my work email at the start of the holiday!
    Many thanks
  2. purplecarrot

    purplecarrot Senior commenter

    It's PPA, not cover. You must be primary but in secondary there is absolutely no way I'd be providing work in your situation.
    The email seems a bit strange as it's such a change in organisation etc. If there was a change like that, I'd have expected you to be informed by your line manager so it might be her just trying to get out of work because previously when I've know HLTAs do lessons they've also done the marking. They weren't full time teachers (before anyone starts talking about misuse of TAs - marking and planning is mentioned in the HLTA standards, I think) but did plan/mark their sessions. Perhaps have a quiet word with your line manager to find out what exactly is meant to be happening. Then, if you must set cover I'd set something like music or PE that doesn't require marking.
    If the school is trying to save costs, then they can deal with the fall out from not employing a PPA teacher.
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  3. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    The whole point of PPA is that it frees you up to concentrate on your planning and marking. So nothing else should impinge on it. That's the raison d'etre of Cover Supervisors and PPA cover.
  4. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    I never left work for whoever was covering my PPA, be they HLTA or teacher. And I certainly didn't mark what someone else had taught. Neither did I give them the 'easier' (in terms of planning /marking) subjects like PE.
    PPA was meant to reduce my workload & give me time to do important tasks which in theory would help my teaching. Having to plan & mark for someone else would have magnified my workload, as would only teaching the more labour intensive subjects.
    Surely the HLTA can't call the shots on this?
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  5. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    That's it.. Right there.
  6. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    This is the relevant extract from the HLTA Standards

    Professional Skills
    Teaching and learning activities must take place under the direction of a teacher and in accordance with arrangements made by the headteacher of the school.

    Planning and Expectations
    Std Description
    17 Use their area(s) of expertise to contribute to the planning and preparation of learning activities
    18 Use their area(s) of expertise to plan their role in learning activities
    19 Devise clearly structured activities that interest and motivate learners and advance their learning
    20 Plan how they will support the inclusion of the children and young people in the learning activities
    21 Contribute to the selection and preparation of resources suitable for children and young people's interests and abilities

    top of page

    Monitoring and Assessment
    Std Description
    22 Monitor learners' responses to activities and modify the approach accordingly
    23 Monitor learners' progress in order to provide focused support and feedback
    24 Support the evaluation of learners' progress using a range of assessment techniques
    25 Contribute to maintaining and analysing records of learners' progress

    The bit that says Teaching and learning activities must take place under the direction of a teacher does seem to suggest that a teacher is involved in some ways with this. It certainly is more work than having a PPA teacher taking full responsibility for the learning, but there are other phrases which suggest that they shouldn't have it all handed to them on a plate:

    • contribute to the planning and preparation of learning activities
    • plan their role in learning activities
    • Devise clearly structured activities
    • Plan how they will support the inclusion
    • Contribute to the selection and preparation of resources
    • provide focused support and feedback
    • using a range of assessment techniques
    • maintaining and analysing records of learners' progress
    So next steps?

    1. What is the situation for other teachers? Are they required to plan and mark for their PPA time?
    2. What is the Head's view on the worsening of your conditions of service through the increased workload, and on any equality between teachers?

    Best wishes

  7. Jesmond12

    Jesmond12 Star commenter

    I certainly would not expect one of my HLTA's to send out an email like that and if they did I would be having a quiet word with them.

    PPA time is your time and you certainly should not be spending time planning and marking any work done during it.

    My HLTA's get their own PPA time for planning and are expected to mark work. That's what they get paid for.
  8. chey

    chey New commenter

    As an HLTA who 'covers' PPA I have some thoughts. The standards refer to the HLTAs strengths so it very much depends on these. They may not be comfortable ( or realistically able to do it well for all year groups ) to plan for one lesson a week in maths or literacy so if you want those covered it makes sense for continuity to leave work for those. If their strength is in maths and literacy then yes they may be able to plan and teach this well for a stand alone lesson but does this meet the needs of your class ? A subject that taught one lesson a week is therefore ideal, so things like RE, music, MFL, PE, PSHE , art, DT, etc often work well. Another thing that can have a great impact, but is the school's problem not yours, is how many hours the HLTA is paid and whether she is given PPA of her own. There is no legal entitlement to PPA in this role although obviously it is good practice to give it. Some schools still employ an HLTA for just the hours children are in school - pay is pro rata to the number of hours and school plus inset weeks. If the HLTA is not paid enough hours to plan and to mark then why should she ? Her work in the books could be initialled and when book scrutinies pick this up it puts it back on management. Likewise thought needs to be given to report writing and time available for this. Whole class teaching is mentioned as just one HLTA standard but unfortunately most are used today to teach full time - when I first took on the role I taught just three afternoons a weeks using my 'strengths' in areas that were not whole class teaching for the remainder of the week. There probably needs to be some dialogue with your SLT ( and the HLTA) about what you can realistically expect and then how this impacts on your own terms and conditions.
    Supplylady and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  9. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    That's excellent to get input from a HTLA, @chey . Very helpful for our O.P.

    Thank you

  10. Wonderwoman1

    Wonderwoman1 New commenter

    Out of interest, how much does your HLTA get paid? My guess is a lot less than you do as a teacher. I agree that you shouldn't have to plan and mark for lessons not taken by you but something needs to be done about HLTA's being expected to do the same job as teachers when they are not trained or paid as teachers.
    Supplylady likes this.
  11. chubbyone

    chubbyone Occasional commenter

    Thanks for the advise. Part of me thinks that it might well change when I go back to work as other teachers who have had the same email from the HLTA have professionally questioned whether they should be expected to mark work that they have not taught.
    Can not leave P.E for her to do as that is not the time that our hall time is and also school policy is HLTA's can not do P.E, this is an arrangement made by the headteacher at the school and an email was sent out to all staff at the beginning of the year clearly informing staff.
    We have 4 HLTA's at school. Originally all based as in class support in KS2 in the morning, then in the afternoon used to take groups in ks1. All under the guidance of teachers. Now one is being used to cover some PPA. All HLTA's get PPA time, incidentally they all get Friday morning.

    Wonderwoman1 totally agree. HLTA in schools are doing the role of a teacher and some may see it as a budget matter. I am very easy going in regards to planning, marking, setting my classroom up etc and maybe come January it will go back to a teacher doing the PPA. I have sat in the staffroom many a time and got quite cross with other teachers saying that why do the HLTA get PPA when they don't plan, assess or prepare and I have calmly said because they are increasingly expected perhaps to do our 'role'.

    Had a coffee with a friend this morning and she said the fact that you have had a term of not you 5% of the week would cause her issues. She is SLT at her school and said that when this happens due to morning and afternoon differences, the afternoon people get it banked and they get in cover for the day once a days hours have been banked.
  12. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    The simple answer is that PPA lessons should be taught by qualified teachers. HLTAs are expected to do a teacher's job on the cheap. They are mugs for doing so; teachers are mugs for providing / marking work for them to do. Neither group is being treated fairly by management.

    My most recent example of HLTA taking my class was they weren't allowed to do science, as it was a core subject. So I gave them topic (history / geography) - a 'labour intensive' subject, which really did save me time as they planned & marked it - and it was done in a separate book from anything i taught.
    notsonorthernlass likes this.
  13. Scousesquirrel

    Scousesquirrel New commenter

    Hi I am a HLTA in a primary school. I teach 50% and support for the rest of the time.

    The comments made by chelsea2 are ... interesting. Firstly I have to say that I am not a mug! I plan, prepare, teach, mark and assess Computing, HIstory and Geography lessons for all years groups from Y1 - 6. I choose to do so. When I was asked to begin this role I was told that the teachers would plan and prepare for me, however I chose to take control of the subjects myself - partly to ease the pressures on the teachers. I do have separate books so when any inspections or scrutinies are carried out it is clear which work is mine.

    With regards to the initial post, I agree that sending the email was most likely not the wisest of communication options. I think it sounds like everyone needs to clarify what skills the HLTA has and what subjects they would feel comfortable teaching. As for marking, don't forget that although HLTAs usually earn slightly more than a general TA they usually only get paid term time and for set hours. I would imagine for many HLTAs they simply won't get paid for the time they would spend marking - again this is something that should be discussed.
    Supplylady likes this.
  14. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    The teacher gives the half-term plan to the HLTA.

    The HLTA then delivers the (preferably NOT core) subject. The HLTA devises the activities (what I call a lesson) and marks. The HLTA gives feedback to the teacher. The HLTA has helped in the initial planning.

    BUT the advice doesn't apply to your PPA-cover. It refers to when you go off on a course or are taking another class for something.
  15. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    If you read my post, I said that HLTAs are mugs for doing a teacher's job on the cheap. If you are expected to do the things a teacher does (plan, teach, mark & assess) the you should be paid as a teacher.

    HOWEVER, I also think anyone teaching should have the appropriate academic qualifications (including QTS). The current state devalues the qualifications & status I and thousands of others worked hard to achieve, and means that HLTAs doing a teacher's job are themselves not as skilled as they would be if they had followed a teacher training route of some kind. If this is not the case, then why should anyone train to be a teacher?
    grumpydogwoman likes this.

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