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Should level 2 TA cover a whole class (primary)?

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by Spice0012, Mar 17, 2015.

  1. Spice0012

    Spice0012 New commenter

    My SLT have critersized me for not planning a complete literacy and numeracy session for a Level 2 TA to cover and teach whilst I was at a pre arranged meeting with the head (known about for over a week) I was always under the impression that staff under the role of HLTA shouldn't teach but complete prepared activities that continue the children's learning without active teaching. Am I wrong? As on this instance I left handwriting practice as the children are very poor and booked the ICT suit for maths games.

    Help as my level 2 TA is covering me a few time next month and I need to check my facts.
  2. keepthespirit

    keepthespirit New commenter

    I am no longer familiar with the regulations.

    However, I feel compelled to say I disagree totally with the concept of T.As teaching. In my view, this paves the way for practice of unqualified people in charge of classes.

    Yes - I know its happening ! but will it increase ?
  3. Quijote

    Quijote New commenter

    I don't think there are any rules about this any more. Having said which, I completely agree with Spirit. It's not something I do. It's not something that should happen.
  4. amjam

    amjam New commenter

    I don't agree with TAs covering classes.
  5. digoryvenn

    digoryvenn Lead commenter

    How do you cover PPA time? Do you use supply teachers?
  6. Quijote

    Quijote New commenter

    We haven't used a supply teacher for five years. We employ specialist music and PE teachers, and have enough trained HLTAs to provide all the rest of our PPA and emergency supply cover. Our children used to have great sport with supply teachers: some were effective; most were a waste of time. They were also hugely expensive. In my first year as head of my present school, using the systems put in place by my predecessor, we spent more than £70,000 on supply and the return for this money was very poor.

    Our HLTAs know the children; they know our routines; they know what we expect in terms of work and behaviour. If we aren't happy with their performance we can hold them to account in a way that we cannot with supply teachers.

    We can also plan our budget much more accurately.
  7. digoryvenn

    digoryvenn Lead commenter

    Thanks Quijote; I feel as if I am doing the right thing. Your situation is so similar to mine. My predecessor spent £32,000 on supply last year and we are a half a form entry!!

    So I decided to cover PPA time and leadership time also with specialist sport and music teachers. One of our HLTAs is a professional artisit so she teaches art as part of PPA as well.

    I know what you mean by ineffective supply teachers but it can be difficult to convince the governors of this..well my governors anyway!

    I am in the process of trying to plan and budget much more accurately.

    Thank you.
  8. Quijote

    Quijote New commenter

    Good luck with it. Governors can be very obtuse sometimes. Mine have a knack of seeking to micromanage minutiae and ignoring the really important stuff.
  9. digoryvenn

    digoryvenn Lead commenter

    I thought it was just my inexperience causing governors to act like this.

    Once I gain a bit more experience, I might understand them better!
  10. keepthespirit

    keepthespirit New commenter

    We had a small group of supply teachers who were trusted and respected (acknowledged by Ofsted). If not happy with supply don't employ them - simple.

    I am concerned that accepting people who are not trained teachers to take responsibility for a class can be used by those who wish to erode professional status.

    Continuing my involvement in education as a governor, I find the negative and patronising comments rather offensive
  11. Quijote

    Quijote New commenter

    The trouble with this is that you don't know until after you've employed them. There was a time when supply was predominantly an arrangement between schools and individual teachers - I used to ring around a list of tried and trusted supply teachers. Nowadays supply is largely in the hands of agencies, this alters the relationship and the possibilities.

    Which is why the job description of the HLTA needs to be very clear - and why you shouldn't allow TAs to cover classes. HLTAs are not teachers and should not be used as such, but they are much, much better than supply teachers who do not know the children or the school.

    I'm sorry you find my comments patronising and offensive. Governors are volunteers and in my experience they bring to the role a wide range of skills and attitudes. I have worked with some extremely good and effective Governors, but unfortunately my experience is that some volunteer for the wrong reasons, some do not understand the nature of the role, and some are either unable or unwilling to put in the time necessary to fulfil their responsibilities. This adds up to many Governors who, as I wrote, seek to micromanage minutiae and yet ignore the really important things. I'm pleased your experience has been more positive, but I don't think that's the norm.
  12. keepthespirit

    keepthespirit New commenter

    The position of agencies has been given to them by schools and supply staff. It is still, I think, up to schools how they manage supply.

    If HLTAs are being used as supply teachers then surely they are being used as teachers, and the next step is.... .

    I agree with what you say about some governors ( fortunately none at our school ) but is it really the norm ? evidence ?

    Perhaps the reason for the shortage of governors is a perception presented by media etc that the role is to drive schools to higher performance (i.e test/exam results) not to provide unrelenting support. The underlying premise of policy - that teachers will not seek to improve without external pressure- is, in my opinion, false.

    Perhaps I'm simply naive.
  13. keepthespirit

    keepthespirit New commenter

    Although this is now away from OP, I should have added that what I found patronising was digoryvenn's,' I thought it was just my inexperience causing governors to act like this.

    Once I gain a bit more experience, I might understand them better!'

    Its as if governors have some sort of peculiar collective way of thinking.

    Surely, we should be in partnership.
  14. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Let's unpack that a bit KtS. There's two very different points there. I agree with your last sentence but not the rest of it. You appear to be saying that the role of governors is to provide "unrelenting support". It isn't. DfE Governors Handbook describes the three core functions of governors as

    a. Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction;
    b. Holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff; and
    c. Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.

    Sadly, no mention of support at all. How any GB could carry out these functions without supporting the school as well I can't imagine, but nevertheless formally that's not a requirement. (It used to be a requirement for governors to support the head - "they shall support the head teacher in the performance of his functions and give him constructive criticism" - but removing the requirement to support in 2013 was yet another of Gove's great ideas).
  15. keepthespirit

    keepthespirit New commenter

    Yes, RW I recognise and acknowledge that you are correct. Thanks for your post.

    I have an unfortunate tendency to just say what I think without providing sufficient detail : I know what I mean, which of course is not good enough.

    I do not see 'unrelenting support' as mindless cheer leading. Support should be specified in our functions but, although it isn't, I see it as a better way to achieve objectives.

    In my definition (possibly unique to me) I see support including asking challenging questions. I see these as a means to encourage school improvement by developing constructive thought. For example, supporting the solving of a problem being solved and then asking how the problem could have been avoided in the first place.

    Support is saying, " We can if......", then looking at how to achieve objectives/aims or whatever.

    It could be said I'm a dreamer but I know I'm not the only one.
  16. Quijote

    Quijote New commenter

    I very much agree that heads should be in partnership with Governors. There is, however, frequently a tension in my experience. I don't have any objective data or other evidence, but I have worked with dozens of Governors myself, my wife is also a headteacher, my sister is a recently retired head, and I have myself been a school Governor at my children's school: all of this informs my view that your positive experience with Governors is not the norm. I would welcome evidence to the contrary.

    Like RW I completely agree with this. However, I am not so sure about your suggestion of a reason for the shortage of Governors. I have tried to persuade parents and others to consider putting themselves forward as school Governors, and the most common reasons that they decline seem to be the workload, the responsibility, and the feeling that they don't really know what Governors are for.

    I think the current model of Governorship is fundamentally flawed and is unlikely to ensure good governance of schools, but that's another thread...

    To return to the subject of this thread:

    I can only speak for my school, but we make a clear distinction between the work of HLTAs and teachers. We use HLTA to provide cover, but not to teach. They can deliver lessons but they are not required to plan. We ask them to mark (and give them time during the school day for this) but they are certainly not held responsible for the pupils' progress.
  17. keepthespirit

    keepthespirit New commenter

    Fair comments Quijote, I probably become too defensive. I suspect I have been fortunate in my experiences, and I am grateful for that.

    You have correctly put it back to me and I have no evidence for my assertions. Universities seem obsessed with research, perhaps one might pick it up. Not being defensive, I have heard of some awful cases involving governors.

    I have questioned myself about how governors can be more effective and I agree with you about the flawed current system. Unfortunately until education can be discussed properly and ideas given the opportunity to evolve I find little hope.

    At a recent conference I asked what would it be like if governors didn't exist ? In my first 15 years of teaching I don't think I even saw a governor.

    Being brutal with myself I am no longer involved on a daily basis with the reality of school life. I have frequently said that Head Teachers who do the job are my heroes ( thinking of the ladies, heroines as well )

    I am sure that you have managed the challenge professionally and thoughtfully for your school. It is obvious from your posts how much you care.

    As I have often commented it is a great pity that those who actually do the job appear to have little say in actual policy decision making.
  18. Quijote

    Quijote New commenter

    Again, I completely agree.

    I also rarely saw a Governor in the early years of my career. Once, in the mid eighties, I met a local councillor who was a Governor of 5 different schools. This was before Local Management and delegated budgets, but even so it did make me wonder what on earth this person thought he was able to contribute to the governance of the schools in question. (I might just have been prejudiced because I didn't like his party; I hope not.)

    Thank you for your kind words. I hope the day is not too far away when, as you say, "education can be discussed properly and ideas given the opportunity to evolve".
  19. digoryvenn

    digoryvenn Lead commenter

    I did not mean to be offensive keep the spirit and I am sorry if it came across as that. I am a new head teacher and I am finding it difficult at the moment. I don't feel as if my governors are being supportive ( this is not just my opinion but other HTs and my mentor).

    Yes, we should be in partnership but mine are not. They are bordering on the offensive.

    I meant it sincerely that I need to understand how governors work and feel. My governors do want to be involved in the day to day management of the school. I suppose quite rightly that they don't trust me yet. My school is in a difficult position at the moment and the attitude of my governors is not helping. In my previous school, I never saw any governors at all and they only asked 'polite' questions. The HT of my previous school kept governors at arms length.

    In my previous experience supply teachers are expensive and I haven't found them to be effective teachers. HLTAs are not teachers and do not 'teach' lessons but are held accountable for their actions in their performance management as a supply teacher would not be.

    I don't employ HLTAs to teach but one of mine is a professional artist with a lot of experience with children so I feel it is beneficial to the pupils to have her use her skills. She is not in charge of a class and I am supporting her with planning and delivery. She is not responsible for pupil progress.

    It makes me sad that sometimes people don't take the time to understand the full story and are only concerned with their own point of view without due consideration.

    Oh well, one day, I may gain enough experience to understand all this.
  20. keepthespirit

    keepthespirit New commenter

    In many previous posts I've commented on the difficulty of posting when, almost by definition with the limitations of a forum, you do not know the full picture.

    I am going completely off from the OP because I think this is an important issue.

    I can think of three reasons for your GB being as they are : 1) The previous Head wanted a quiet life and let the governors behave as they wished 2) The previous Head did not allow governors to get involved so now they are trying to take advantage and are going too far 3) They are deluded governors.

    Whichever it is they are apparently not doing a good job. I respectfully suggest ( whenever it gets to the top of your priorities to sort out ) the problem needs to be tackled.

    Are there any governors who could exert a better influence on the FGB ? Could you work with/through them ?

    It seems to me that there is a desperate need for governor training here, with particular reference to roles and responsibilities. They seem not to appreciate these.

    Is there an external adviser you could get on board to help ? It is very difficult when you have to see these governors on a regular basis.

    I hope you can make progress with this. I do understand how challenging your role is ( especially when you hint at other issues ).

    Very best wishes.

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