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Told off for not covering, is this really fair?

Discussion in 'Pay and conditions' started by lCatherinel, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. Feeling a little hard done by today and was wondering if I was being unreasonable.

    Yesterday morning I left for work extra early so that I could get to school to do a revision session for my maths class before the exam. I hadn't planned my lessons for the day as I was writing reports until 1am the night before. I was timetabled for my year 11 class (who were in the exam) period 1 so thought I would do the planning then. Seemed a fair swap to me, before school lesson swapped for period 1.

    On the way to school my car started feeling a little odd and the engine light came on on the dash. After paying for the husbands car to be fixed last week, I've no money left to fix my car this month so this started me off stressing. My daughter has also broken my glasses so I'm wearing an old pair until pay day so I have a consistent headache. I was then given cover for period 1.

    This would have been my first gained time that I had intended to plan in (all my others have been spent supporting other colleagues) . I was talking to work friends about it (yes, complaining) and then I suddenly felt overwhelmed by the stress and left so that I could hide in the toilets as I just wanted to cry. It wasn't the cover that had made me want to cry - it was everything else but as I went into the toilets I ran into the cover woman, at this point I was crying and it was a couple of minutes before the start of period 1. I said to her "I can't possibly do this cover this morning". She snatched the cover sheet off me and ran off.

    This morning I was called into the assistant head teacher office and made to feel like I was out of line for upsetting the cover woman. Am I being unreasonable to not see how I have actually done anything wrong? I'm currently in the NASUWT so shouldn't be doing cover anyway, never mind cover during gained time. I have done though to help out the cover woman - as I actually liked her.
  2. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Established commenter

    You shouldn't be doing cover in your gained time so you have every right to feel aggrieved by it. It might be worth having a word with your union rep. about your lack of gained time etc. Whilst you didn't mean to upset your cover person it might be worth apologising to her (if only to avoid a Yr 9 drama cover last lesson on a Friday - my idea of the cover lesson from hell!)
  3. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    You can be directed in your gained time as the head teacher sees fit. It's unfortunate and unlucky that this landed on a day when you had planned to plan. If someone was genuinely upset or emotional in my own school typically someone would step in to support them and take the cover off them so they could pull themselves together. It seem the cover lady was having a bad day herself so I would have a word to offer some apology for upsetting her but also keep a good watch on my own mental health if you're feeling fragile and stressed at the moment.
  4. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    Gained time or not, I would not leave my planning of that day's lessons till period one that day!
  5. Whilst I fully sympathise with how you must have been feeling that morning, I ask, how would anyone else know?
    It does seeem things are getting a bit on top of you at present, maybe you might want to think about talking the pressure through with someone who may be able to offer some practical advice.
  6. coppull

    coppull New commenter

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  7. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I am not sure what this has to do with it; NASUWT acknowledges the need for occasional cover in a genuine emergency. Provided it was an emergency, and you are not getting more than your fair share of cover (in which case you have the right to complain), then it is reasonable for somebody with gained time to be expected to do it. If you refuse, then one of your colleagues has to do it, perhaps somebody who has done a cover more recently than you.
    A couple of suggestions. If you are giving an extra class like this, why not discuss it with the cover supervisor in advance; they may be prepared to accept the suggestion that it is a swap for your gained lesson? Refusing at the last minute means that they had to change plans at short notice, perhaps when trying to get cover staff in for period 2 to cover for the same short notice absence as in period 1. Doing cover is tricky at this time of year, as many cover staff also do invigilation.
    Secondly, get some advice on dealing with your workload. You shouldn't have to be writing reports at 1.00 am. It may be that you have to cut back on supporting colleagues or something else, if it leaves you with no time to do the jobs you have to do.
    Thirdly, yes I think you should apologise to your cover supervisor. She was only doing her job, and did not know about your difficulties. I sympathise with you; it must have been a horrible day, but you did make things hard for her.
  8. welshwoman

    welshwoman New commenter

    Think this is probably in reponse to the fact that NASUWT members are currently supposed to be working to rule and providing cover for other staff members is one thing in all the documents I've read which it states we should NOT be doing (even if it is rarely covering and for a genuine reason).
  9. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    I agree with this. Prioritise your workload. Help others when you have done your own work.
  10. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

  11. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I don't think that it's an apology that you need to give to the Cover lady but an explanation about why you were feeling so fragile that morning. The Cover lady has made the assumption that allocating you the cover lesson was what upset you when it was actually just the 'straw that broke the camel's back".
  12. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I don't think this is true. The document I have seen says "Members should refuse to accept the direction of the headteacher to undertake any other activity, including cover, in PPA time." (My italics) The rule is that we should cover under well defined restrictions, therefore the work to rule does not prevent this.
  13. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    To correct my previous post, I now notice that NASUWT members are advised not to do any cover, fursther down the same document. However, this is a breach of contract, which schools may decide to take action over, provided that Rarely Cover is in place. IMO, it is wrong that members of other unions should have to do more cover than their fair share because NASUWT members won't do any. In any case, the cover supervisor is perfectly entitled to ask you to do cover.
  14. Thank you for all your responses. They are appreciated. After consulting the STPCD and the Action Short of Strike Guidance documents, I can confirm that (as I understand it), A teacher can be asked to cover as long as the situation is unforeseen and therefore could not have been predicted, staff absence due to illness does not fall under this category. During "Gained Time", a teacher can be directed to do a number of things including supporting another teacher, but can not be instructed to cover for an absent colleague.

    For my year 11 class that finished in March I was instructed to support another colleague with her class as they were doing another syllabus and due to the class teacher's educational background, I was needed to fill in the missing gaps of her subject knowledge. This is within my contract.

    In the last 4 teaching weeks I have been asked to cover for a total time of about 2 hours (excluding Wednesday - which would have taken it to 3 hours). Only once (20 minutes of the last lesson of the day) for a reason that would be classed as unforeseeable. In addition, this week I have covered 2 hours teaching time of the colleague I have been supporting because she was out of school doing other things. I do my share of cover without complaints.

    I appreciate that I probably should have mentioned to the cover supervisor at least the day before my intention to teach my lesson an hour early and request protected time. I acknowledge that it isn't best practice to plan my lessons on the morning I am teaching them but in my defense, I knew what I was teaching and how I wanted to teach it, I just needed time to sort out the resources, which I would usually do before school but I was teaching. I am impressed that you have never had to do this, unfortunately I have childcare commitments that prevent me staying at school for more than 40 minutes on certain days of the week, so on days following I go in early.

    I haven't spoke to the cover lady today (apart from to say "ok" when she passed me another cover slip) as I have cried at work 2 days in a row and needed a day off. I am really grateful for your insights as I was really struggling to see where she was coming from on this one. I only saw as far as, she told on me because I was too upset to do cover. It hadn't occurred to me that she thought I was crying BECAUSE of the cover. It also occurred to me (after it was pointed out that she may have been stressed too) that she had an exam that morning so I guess it was a bad time for me to not be coping for her to cope with. I will find some time to speak to her on Monday.

    Thanks again.
  15. Henriettawasp

    Henriettawasp New commenter

    Isn't that the point - just as strike action is?
  16. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    Yep. The NASUWT action says no cover even in gained time.
  17. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    A "work to rule" is usually an attempt to inconvenience management without breaking contract, so that no money is lost. So, this isn't really a work to rule, as the part about not doing cover is a breach of contract. It strikes me as all rather half-hearted; the only people it inconveniences are members of other unions who have to do extra cover as a result. I suspect this is why schools are not doing anything about the breach of contract.

  18. NASUWT members can not be told to do cover in gained time, this not a breach of contract. Your Union Rep should have made this clear to the SMT and you should refuse to do any cover at all.
  19. In any case, the cover supervisor is perfectly entitled to ask you to do cover.
    Completely untrue.
  20. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Why is this untrue? According to the teachers pay and conditions "Subject to sub-paragraph 63.10 supervise and so far as practicable teach any pupils where the person timetabled to take the class is not available to do so." 63.10 says "Teachers should be required to provide cover in accordance with paragraph 61.7 only rarely, and only in circumstances that are not foreseeable (This does not apply to teachers who are employed wholly or mainly for the purpose of providing such cover)."
    So, providing that the rules of rarely cover are observed, you can be asked to do cover. There is definitely no rule that excludes NASUWT members from this obligation. Or can somebody tell us where that rule can be found?


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