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Primary specialist forced to teach other subjects

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by lelliott2, Nov 26, 2018.

  1. lelliott2

    lelliott2 New commenter

    I've been a primary MUSIC specialist (secondary PGCE in music) for almost 10 years, and subsequently paid on UPS. My current school are now forcing me to teach NQT PPA cover which is not music. My contract says I am employed as a music teacher. Can I refuse? I have been doing this for a few months and hating every minute of it. It has mainly been in Year 1 teaching English, Phonics (of which I have NO TRAINING) and hand-writing although I have also done Y5 RE and English. I have absolutely no idea what I am doing and I said in my interview that I was not willing to be timetabled to do non-music PPA cover. I am on the phone with my union to get advice as I have been summoned to a meeting with the head on Wednesday and want to know the facts. Anyone have any advice?
  2. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Hopefully your union will be able to help and advise here. Usually you can be directed to teach what the head wants, but the fact that it was discussed at interview and the contract specified a subject (which is unusual in primary) will mean that you have some leverage here.
    It may be a bit of a problem that you have been doing this for a while, as that could be seen as accepting the variation in your contract.
    The other thing to bear in mind is that if they no longer want enough specialist music teaching to fill your timetable, they could declare a redundancy, and you might find yourself out of a job.
  3. lelliott2

    lelliott2 New commenter

    Thanks. Union said I don't have to teach anything but music as it is stated in my contract as "music teacher". With regards to not wanting enough music to fill the timetable this is not something I am worried about. They want more and more which is great so makes no sense why I am not given the time to do what I am paid to do. Except of course the fact that me covering someone else saves them money.
    agathamorse likes this.
  4. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    The school may well want more and more music, but it is unlikely any school will give much more than half an hour a week or so to the subject.

    Can year 1 have their music session while you cover, then do music related phonics and that's half your afternoon sorted? English and handwriting isn't all that hard to make up for one lesson a week.

    Very few teachers only teach their specialism, in either primary or secondary. Four and a half days of music and a half day of PPA cover seems a pretty decent deal.
  5. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    If by ‘them’, you mean the whole school (of which you are a part), then you are of course right. School leaders have not requested decreased income and increased expenditure, it has been forced upon them.

    To be honest, having an upper scale, qualified teacher in a primary, purely delivering music, is a real luxury. If you have got this far doing solely that, then you have done well.

    In the current funding climate, you might be well-served to demonstrate you can be flexible and support the needs of the wider school.

    Good luck to the union bod who’s going to tell a primary HT that he/she cannot deploy a QTS teacher to teach anything other than just one foundation subject.
  6. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I think your contract is highly unlikely to guarantee that you will teach music to the exclusion of all other subjects.

    A secondary maths/music/science teacher will often find herself teaching other subjects.

    See the final paragraph of post #5.
  7. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    My opinion is that if you have been employed specifically as a Music teacher, to deliver a Music curriculum to every class in the school, then that is what you are there to do. You have been brought in specifically for your specialist skills in Music.
    You have QTS but you are not primary trained and do not wish to teach any other subjects other than Music. I think it is disingenuous of the school to try and make you - and a disservice to the children if you feel you do not have the knowledge, experience or interest in what you are meant to be teaching. A wise Head deploys staff according to their strengths and specialisms.
    Yes, a dedicated Music teacher on UPS teaching throughout a primary school and providing extra curricular activities is like gold-dust; you are very lucky and whoever made the decision to employ you, I assume, values Music. Every primary school in the country should have someone like you.
  8. baxterbasics

    baxterbasics Senior commenter

    I'm in two minds about this.

    Yes, it is a bit of a luxury. On the other hand, if it stated on your job description "to teach music", then they are technically in breach of contract.

    If they had been more honest and had a meeting and said, "with the budget being stretched, we might have to ask you to widen your teaching a little more next year", it might have been more acceptable. If it has been simply dumped on you with no explanation, then that is probably half the problem.

    To me,the real clincher is whether your contract states "music teacher" or simply "teacher". If it is the latter, then you can't do anything other than go along with the flow.
  9. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    I am in just one mind.

    Would you prefer to face a reduction in contract hours by being made partially redundant?? Believe me, if you dig your heels in and refuse to teach anything but music (and there is not enough music to fill a week's timetable) then that is where you will find yourself.

    You are a teacher and you can't teach English, RE or handwriting at Primary level? Give over! Phonics I can understand - for the two weeks it would take for you to get your head round the subject.

    There are any number of teachers who would prefer to teach only their chosen or specialist subject but that is not the nature of Primary schools. Count yourself lucky you haven't been given outdoor games on a cold November afternoon.

    Stop being a diva and start being a teacher.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2018
  10. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter


    May I nominate #9 for a Best Post Award, please?

    I feel we sometimes pus.sy-foot around some issues on these boards for fear of causing upset but this is one of those instances where we need not sugar-coat matters.

    You got a PGCE. You specialised in Music and you hold QTS. You chose to work at a Primary school. You must know how they work by now. Surely! After ten years?

    What next? You can't take a register? You can't supervise playtime?

    I refer you to SPTCD 50.2.

    The union will get nowhere with this. There's nowhere to go. Better be professional about it and upskill yourself a bit and master YR1 phonics. Why not? It's literally NOT rocket science!
  11. Eflmeister

    Eflmeister Occasional commenter

    I think you’re incredibly lucky if you are a primary-based teacher holding QTS and are solely employed to teach music, and have been able to stay at the same place based on that premise and reach UPS without teaching anything else. I’m not saying things should be a race to the bottom but I believe your circumstances are almost unique - all the primary teachers I know teach multiple subjects as did my teachers when I was at primary in the late eighties and nineties.
  12. Jesmond12

    Jesmond12 Star commenter

    You can always trust Nomad and GDW to say what many of us are thinking. Spot on.
  13. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Surely the answer would be for you to cover everyone's PPA time and teach music in that slot?
  14. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    Just IMPROVISE and have a lot of fun teaching phonics. Get on the Primary forum and ask for ideas and books for teaching Phonics, RE and English at KS1. I would suggest you get hold a book called Jolly Phonics and check out the website. And as @caterpillartobutterfly said, make the Phonics stuff very musical and fun. If you go to Youtube, there are lots of Phonics songs and KS1 musical resources are always simple, harmonising using ONLY chords I, IIm, IV and V and in major keys, and playing the chords straight on the first beat and they are so easy to play and pretty naff.:p I too am a Secondary Music Specialist and have retrained in Secondary Maths and can currently teach up to Year 12 Maths and am training (having funded myself independently) to teach up to Year 13. A lot of other Music, Performing Arts, Dance and Art specialists have retrained in other subjects and at Secondary level and our musical skills helps when teaching other subjects.

    You have been very lucky indeed to land your present gig. Don't do anything to rock the boat as there are others who will eagerly replace you and at less than half your current salary.o_O

    Let's hope your HT doesn't read this.:eek:
  15. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    That's incredibly poor union advice actually, if they really have told you that you are contracted to do only that which pertains to your job title.

    Most teaching contracts have a small clause at the end,which often causes the most contention, stating "and anything else i am reasonably required to do"

    I don't agree with others who say "well, you have it good actually compared to others" because that ought not to be a standard by which you should gauge your own difficulties. The only gauge of how wrong this is would be how much, if it all, it deviates from your contract.

    I agree with the poster who said you could easily find yourself with the option of no job if you feel compelled to put your foot down on this. They obviously like and trust you, but that does not necessarily extend to putting themselves out to make sure you are happy with everything you are asked to do.
  16. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    No,ad is absolutely right and so is GDW.. the head can deploy you however s/he wishes, according to the needs of the timetable. You are very fortunate to be on UPS and have had the luxury of teaching only Music

    Bearing in mind thatyouve been summoned to a meeting, I think you need to be very careful what you say and do, if you want to keep the job. Especially as you don’t know what the meeting is for yet, I presume. If you go in complaining, you may well come out via the exit door.
  17. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    I've been reading with interest.

    I'm a Secondary teacher, and I've met very few Music specialists - except in one larger than average school - where they only taught Music. One sole practitioner also had to teach ICT and Maths when there was no GCSE uptake: another had to teach History and RS.

    Some primaries don't even have a music specialist - just a peripatic teacher who comes in for a couple of afternoons a week so others can have PPA.

    I would be very careful. If you need support, ask. But go in stating how wrong it is could mean you get shown the door. I get your frustration. But I suppose it depends on how much you like the school and how confident you are of getting a similar post elsewhere.
  18. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    With budgets as they are, having any confidence at all of obtaining the same role and terms elsewhere may be misguided.
  19. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    It's entirely possible, with tight budgets, that they've realised that having a UPS teacher teaching music through the school is a pretty expensive thing. If they can lose you, they can either appoint someone cheaper to teach the music, or get the class teachers to teach music and appoint someone cheaper to do more PPA cover - possibly even an HLTA. How to get rid of you? Well, if they put stuff you don't like into your timetable, maybe you'll resign of your own accord.

    That may be too cynical. But if you used to have more music teaching, perhaps it is the case that they can't afford as much as they used to. Maybe they added the other stuff in rather than ask whether you would consider part-time.

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