faqs by liwenting


									Frequently asked questions on cover supervision

These frequently asked questions (FAQs) are based on guidance (February
2004) produced by the Workforce Agreement Monitoring Group and guidance
from the NRT. They also draw on other documents such as 'Developing the
role of school support staff' from the DfES and Section 133 of the Education
Act 2002.

It is strongly advised that you read the WAMG 'Guidance for shools on cover
supervision' and 'The remodelling cover-resource pack'.

From September 2004, as part of the National Agreement, there will be a
statutory limit of 38 hours per year on the amount of cover teachers can be
required to carry out. This will reduce in subsequent years with the objective
that teachers hardly ever cover for absent colleagues.

This is not about replacing teachers with teaching assistants and other
support staff. Teachers and teaching assistants are not interchangeable.
Each class or group of pupils must have a qualified teacher assigned to teach
them. Only qualified teachers can take overall responsibility and
accountability for the quality and outcomes of teaching and learning.

Additionally, from September 2005, there will be a statutory requirement to
provide all teachers with planning, preparation and assessment time (PPA)
representing ten per cent of their scheduled teaching time.

Cover limitation (from September 2004)

What is the limit on cover?
From September 2004 no teacher must carry out more than 38 hours cover
for absence in any one year.

Can a deputy headteacher be directed to cover more than 38 hours a
year if he/she only has a 30 per cent teaching timetable?
No, the 38 hour limit applies to all teaching staff including members of the
leadership team.

Are headteachers covered by this reform?
Yes, headteachers must not cover more than 38 hours of teacher absence in
an academic year.

If a teacher is employed to carry out cover in part or whole will this will
fall outside the cover agreement?
If a teacher is employed 'wholly or mainly' to provide cover then they
represent an exception to the 38 hour limit. This could reasonably be
interpreted as in excess of 51 per cent of their contracted hours.

Is timetabled cover actually cover or is it teaching?
If a teacher is timetabled with a class then this is programmed teaching.

Can I offer an ‘honorarium’ payment for teachers who decide they want
to cover a class if other arrangements can’t be made?
It is not in the spirit of the Agreement to reduce cover carried out by teachers
and it is not good practice. In any case it would still count towards the 38 hour
limit for any teacher and is not an appropriate strategy.

Can I pass on the additional cost of employing a supply teacher
resulting from a school trip to the parents?
Yes. It is reasonable for the school to factor in the additional cost into the final
trip costs but parental payment would need to be within the recommended
voluntary contribution found in the guidance.

If I send staff on a residential trip should I count hours over and above
the teaching timetable as cover time?
No. There is no absence that teachers could be considered to be covering for.
Teachers accompany pupils on residential trips on a voluntary basis, not at
the direction of the headteacher.

Can classes be split or doubled?
Splitting and doubling classes, for the purpose of covering for absence, falls
outside the spirit of the National Agreement.

When might splitting a class not count as cover?
When there is no teacher absence and the groupings have been made for
educational reasons.

Gained time

What is 'gained time'?
Gained time is teacher timetabled time that becomes 'freed up' by the
removal of classes. This is particularly the case in secondary schools when
examination classes begin study/examination leave. It also applies when a
teacher is freed from classes as a result of a school trip.

During ‘gained time’, can a teacher be required to cover a teacher on
long term sick leave?
The teacher can provide cover provided they do not exceed the 38 hour cover
limit during an academic year. Consequently for a long term sick leave, the
absence should be covered by a teacher recruited on a temporary contract.

During ‘gained time’, is it possible for an existing member of staff to
cover a vacancy?
It is not possible to deploy a teacher released from their usual classes in June
and July to cover a vacancy. The 38 hour maximum is not relevant as this
relates only to cover for absences not vacancies where teaching is taking

Is the maximum 38 hour cover limit reduced proportionately for part-
time teachers?
Yes. The STPCD states that the contractual change is pro-rata.

If a teacher acquires gained time time as a result of a class or group
they would normally have taught being absent on an educational visit,
can they be required to cover an absent colleague?
The teacher could be required to cover provided it is within the 38 hour per
annum limit.
If, for example, at the time of the educational visit the teacher had already
covered for 38 hours in that year, he/she should be directed to undertake one
or more of these activities:

         • developing/revising departmental/subject curriculum materials, schemes
           of work, lesson plans and policies in preparation for the new academic
           year. This may include identifying appropriate materials for use by
           supply staff and/or cover supervisors
         • assisting colleagues in appropriate planned team teaching activities
         • taking groups of pupils to provide additional learning support
         • supporting selected pupils with coursework
         • undertaking planned activities with pupils transferring between year
           groups or from primary schools
         • their own continuing professional development (CPD)

Can I negotiate my own 'good will' agreement with staff regarding
gained-time resulting from school trips?
The only 'agreement' that should apply is the National Agreement. A school’s
own policy must comply with the National Agreement as this is statutory.

For teachers who traditionally gain a lot of time after external exams,
can you take away PPA time during the term? Can PPA time be blocked
out regularly over a term?
PPA time should be provided to all teachers throughout the year in
reasonable 'chunks'. This should be in accordance with school policy. Those
with small teaching timetables may have their PPA aggregated over a longer
period. For example, if a part-time teacher's ten per cent entitlement amounts
to less than 30 minutes during a timetable cycle it would be appropriate to
aggregate it and release the teacher for PPA at different but regular times.
Time after examinations can be used for activities other than cover but if it is
for cover it must be within the 38 hour cover limit. Schools may consider
timetabling the academic year from June to June in order to begin the next
year's studies before the summer recess and maximise teaching and learning

Cover supervision (from September 2004)

What is cover supervision?
Cover supervision should not include 'specified work' (this is defined later).
Cover supervision is the supervision of groups or classes of children when
there is no active teaching taking place. It requires that the class teacher,
head of department or other teacher provide appropriate and age-relevant
pre-prepared and self-directed work for the children. This process should be
in line with school policy on cover arrangements.

Who can carry out cover supervision?
Support staff that the headteacher considers to have the appropriate skills
and training. Support staff specifically employed by the school to carry out
cover supervision (possibly as part of a wider support role) would not teach
the pupils but would ensure that pupils undertake the work left for them.

Headteachers may employ new staff to this role or re-deploy existing staff that
agree to carry out this work. In either case, the headteacher must be satisfied
that they have the necessary training and skills. Cover supervision and its key
requirements should be included in the job description for such posts and a
job evaluation should take place. Generic job descriptions are available, in
addition to advice on appropriate remuneration.

Headteachers may use a variety of strategies for cover supervision, including:

           • support staff may have cover supervision as a core part of their role
           • support staff may have cover supervision as one part of a wider and
             varied role
           • headteachers may employ appropriately qualified people on a casual
             basis, as required

Headteachers need to ensure that anyone undertaking cover supervision has
this in their job description.

When is it appropriate to use cover supervisors?
Cover supervisors should only be used for short-term absences that may be
known in advance (eg teacher on training or medical appointment) or may be
unexpected (eg illness). A teacher should cover long-term absence such as
long-term sickness and maternity. Headteachers will determine what a short
term absence is in line with school policy. In doing so the headteacher should
consider the total length of time that a particular group of pupils is without a
teacher and how it may be affecting their learning. A class that predominantly
has one teacher during the day will be more affected than a class that has
multiple teachers. Hence the headteacher’s judgement may vary from group
to group. WAMG guidance is that it would be inappropriate for a class to be
'supervised' for more than three consecutive days. For known absence it
would be appropriate, where practicable, for a headteacher to try and ensure
that teaching rather than supervision takes place.

What are key tasks for cover supervisors?

         • supervising work that has been set in accordance with school policy on
           cover supervision
         • managing the behaviour of pupils to ensure a constructive environment
         • responding to any questions from pupils about process and procedure
         • dealing with any immediate problems or emergencies according to the
           schools policies and procedures
         • collecting work at the end of the lesson and returning it to the appropriate
           teacher or collection point
         • reporting back as appropriate using the schools agreed referral
           procedure on the behaviour of pupils during the class and any issues

Please note that this list is not exhaustive.

What skills, knowledge and training are required for cover supervision?
Staff carrying out cover supervision should:

         • be familiar with key school policies such as those relating to health and
           safety, equal opportunities and special education needs. Head teachers
           should ensure that new staff are appropriately inducted before they
           undertake cover supervision
         • have the necessary skills and training to manage activities safely and
           manage the resources for which they are responsible
         • be able to use a range of strategies to deal with individual pupil and
           whole class behaviour needs and child protection issues

It is the headteacher's responsibility to ensure that such staff have the
necessary skills and that appropriate training is provided either from the LEA
or other providers. Headteachers must ensure they have assessed the impact
of using support staff for cover.

What training is available to support teaching assistants to carry out
these new roles?
The LEA has added to its existing training for support staff and is keeping this
under review in order to cater for needs as they arise.

Training may include:

        • school-based induction
        • DfES TA induction training
        • additional training to support cover supervision (eg behaviour
        • support staff introductory training
        • additional LEA training
        • training by private organisations
        • training in schools (or clusters of schools) – especially on policies and
        • higher level teaching assistant (HLTA) training (HLTAs should not be
          regarded as cover supervisors, as this would not be the best deployment
          of their skills)

Higher level teaching assistants (HLTA)

What is an HLTA?
HLTA stands for higher level teaching assistant. This is not a job title or
qualification, rather it is a status. This status can be achieved through a
designated route of training and/or assessment provided by a number of TTA
accredited external training providers. Teaching assistants can apply for
assessment/training to achieve HLTA status with the approval of their
headteacher. A checklist, guidance notes, job description and application
form are available from your LEA. Further information can also be found on
the TDA website.

Do HLTAs get paid more?
HLTA is a ‘recognition of professional competencies’ not an academic
qualification. Acquiring HLTA status will not lead to increased remuneration
within existing teaching assistant grades or indeed necessarily progress
individuals to a higher grade. However, teaching assistants who are expected
to carry out this role and have HLTA status can expect this to be reflected in
their job description and evaluation. Those who hold HLTA status will be able
to apply for posts as and when they are advertised.

What can HLTAs do?
HLTAs are able to carry out 'specified work' in addition to other duties
appropriate to the level of the post. This may include the management of
support staff and contributing to their performance management. Please
contact your personnel provider for job description and further guidance.

Specified work

What is 'specified work'?
Specified work (Section 133 Regulations issued under the Education Act
2002) includes:

            • planning and preparing lessons
            • delivering lessons to pupils
            • assessing the development, progress and attainment of pupils
            • reporting on the development, progress and attainment of pupils

Who can carry out ‘specified work’?

            • qualified teachers
            • teachers without QTS (eg trainee teachers, instructors, overseas
              trained teachers)
            • support staff (eg HLTAs, or others with appropriate grade and skills)

What conditions apply to support staff carrying out ‘specified work’?

          • they must carry out the ‘specified work’ in order to assist or support the
            work of a teacher in the school
          • the headteacher must be satisfied that they have the skills, expertise
            and experience required to carry out the ‘specified work’
          • they must be subject to the direction and supervision of a teacher in
            accordance with arrangements made by the headteacher of a school

‘Specified work’ does by no means attempt to include all the duties that may
be required of classroom teachers (which are listed in Part X11 of the School
Teachers Pay and Conditions Document). The underlying aim of the
regulations is to safeguard standards in the classroom and preserve the role,
status and overall responsibility of teachers in schools.

Planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) (from September 2005)

What is PPA time?
PPA time is guaranteed time given to teachers for planning, preparation and
assessment. It should represent a minimum of ten per cent of their timetabled
teaching time. This applies to any member of staff with a teaching
commitment including leadership staff and those with management

How does PPA affect NQTs in their induction period?
NQTs must have a maximum 90 per cent timetable to allow them release time
to undertake activities related to their induction. In addition to this they should
receive a further ten per cent of their timetabled teaching time as PPA from
September 2005 (see example provided).

How is 10 per cent PPA calculated?
         • total the current teaching time and any existing PPA time. If the existing
           PPA time is 10 per cent or more of this total, the new PPA requirement is
           already being met and should not be reduced due to the 'no detriment'
           clause. If the PPA time is less than ten per cent of the total, adjust the
           balance between the teaching and PPA time so that the PPA time is at
           least ten per cent of the total
         • the calculation will have to be made individually for each teacher who has
           a time-tabled teaching commitment (this could be the headteacher as well
           as other members of the leadership group, advanced skills teachers,
           teachers, instructors, teachers undergoing training and overseas trained
           teachers –
           however it does not include ‘other unqualified staff’ ie support staff
           undertaking 'specified work'). However, it would seem to be good practice
           to provide PPA to all staff who are required to plan, prepare and assess
           pupils work
         • an individual time budget setting out the breakdown of the various
           activities undertaken during the school session time will need to be drawn
           up. The activities would normally be teaching time, PPA time, leadership
           and management time, mid-morning and afternoon breaks, registration,
           assemblies and other pupil supervision activities
         • to calculate the minimum PPA time for each teacher the following steps
           will be needed
             • calculate the length of the pupil session week (to incorporate teaching
               time, registration, assemblies and pupil supervision but excluding the
               lunch break)
             • determine which of the activities specified above are being undertaken
               currently by each teacher and how much time is being spent on each
               activity. For example:

 Primary school example:

 26 hours 15 minutes (5 hours 15 minutes per day)

                        Manager         Manager with
                                                           NQT with PPA
                       without PPA         PPA
NQT time 10%                                              2hrs 10 mins
Leadership and
                      1 hrs 15 mins    1 hrs 15 mins      (no L&M time)
                                   21 hrs 35 mins         20 hrs 40 mins
                                   Made up of:            Made up of:
                                   19 hrs 25 mins         18 hrs 36 mins
                    21 hrs 35 mins
Timetabled teaching                (teaching)             (teaching)
                                   2 hrs 10 mins          2 hrs 4 mins
                                   (PPA)                  (PPA)
Breaks (am and pm) 50 mins             50 mins            50 mins
Supervision of
                      30 mins          30 mins            30 mins
Registration          50 mins          50 mins            50 mins
Assemblies            1 hr 15 mins     1 hr 15 mins       1 hr 15 mins
Total                 26 hrs 15 mins 26 hrs 15 mins       26 hrs 15 mins
Secondary school example:

28 hours 45 minutes (5 hours 45 minutes per day)

                           Manager           Manager with
                                                                 NQT with PPA
                          without PPA           PPA
NQT time 10%                                                    2hrs 34 mins
Leadership and
                         80 mins            80 mins             (no L&M time)
                                   24 hrs 40 mins               20 hrs 40 mins
                                   Made up of:                  Made up of:
                                   22 hrs 12 mins               20 hrs 47 mins
                    24 hrs 40 mins
Timetabled teaching                (teaching)                   (teaching)
                                   2 hrs 28 mins                2 hrs 18 mins
                                   (PPA)                        (PPA)
Breaks (am and pm) 20 mins                  20 mins             20 mins
Supervision of
                         20 mins            20 mins             20 mins
Registration             50 mins            50 mins             50 mins
Assemblies               1 hr 15 mins       1 hr 15 mins        1 hr 15 mins
Total                    28 hrs 45 mins 28 hrs 45 mins          28 hrs 45 mins

A PPA calculator is available from your LEA Remodelling Team.

What is meant by 'no detriment'?
The ten per cent guaranteed PPA time is a minimum figure. Any teacher who
is already in receipt of more than this amount of time specifically for planning,
preparation and assessment should not have his/her existing allocation
reduced to ten per cent.

Management of support staff

Are there job descriptions available for different levels/types of teaching
assistant and HLTA?
Yes. There is an HLTA job description (level 4) and job descriptions for other
teaching assistants roles at levels 1-3. These may be varied by individual
schools to meet local needs but should then be re-evaluated. These job
descriptions are available from your LEA personnel provider.

Who line manages and supervises TAs and HLTAs?
It is important that all staff fall into a clear and agreed staff structure with clear
roles and job descriptions. TAs and HLTAs should be subject to performance
management. This may mirror the process for teachers or schools may adopt
a different approach. Your personnel provider can advise on this and
recommend a scheme(s).

Line management is therefore important to the formal management of staff
including performance management. For HLTAs the line manager may be a
teacher (if their focus is pedagogical or behaviour). HLTAs may line manage
TAs (and this must be reflected in their job description).
There might be training issues for teaching staff in managing TAs as
classroom teachers may be less experienced in staff management.

Supervision may be carried out by others in addition to the line manager as
TAs, HLTAs and teachers work together as learning teams.

If a support staff member is teaching a whole class are they required to
deal with difficult situations without reference to a member of the
teaching staff?
While undertaking this work, the support staff member will be under a system
of supervision determined by the headteacher. The support staff member
would be expected to deal with difficult situations following the school referral
system. However, like a qualified teacher, if the situation was one they could
not deal with, or there was an emergency, they would be expected to seek
help from a teaching or suitably skilled colleague (eg staff member with
responsibility for behaviour support). However, this could not be the class
teacher if, at the time, he/she is undertaking PPA time since that time must be

The system of supervision and how such emergencies are managed should
be included in the cover policy for the school.

Is a support staff member undertaking ‘specified work’ entitled to
planning time?
There is no requirement for planning time to be given either within or outside
school session times. However, if the requirement for planning is regular and
extensive, the provision of paid planning time whether within the school
session day or before/after it, would be reasonable; in which case it would
need to be the subject of consultation and agreement with the support staff

Can a support staff member who has not achieved HLTA status be
employed to undertake ‘specified work’?
In accordance with Section 133 of the Education Act 2002, there is a category
of other people who can carry out the specified work, subject to them being
under the supervision of an assigned teacher and working in accordance with
supervision arrangements made by the headteacher. This category covers all
staff other than qualified teachers, instructors (teachers with a specialist
qualification for the type of teaching being undertaken), teachers undergoing
training and overseas trained teachers.

It is essential that support staff undertaking 'specified work' have the
necessary skills and expertise. HLTA status confirms that such skills and
expertise have been properly demonstrated and that, therefore,
headteachers, teachers, parents and governors can be assured that the
support staff member can enhance the pupils' learning. Other support staff
may also have these attributes. Headteachers should have regard to the
published standards for HLTAs when deciding if a member of support staff
has the skills/experience to undertake specified work when working with
whole class groups.

Specialist instructors, eg sports coaches, taking classes need
professional qualifications – what level do they need to be at?
Specialist instructors have been used by schools in a variety of ways for
years. The responsibility rests with the headteacher to ensure that they have
the professional qualifications stated and that those qualifications are
adequate for the work being fulfilled. Headteachers should therefore have
regard to the published standards for HLTAs when considering the suitability
of external instructors to undertake specified work. This is particularly the
case where health and safety may be an issue for which a risk assessment
should be carried out. For example, where use of PE or DT equipment is

Can teachers be required to produce banks of materials for use by
cover staff?
This is a sensible and appropriate strategy since it is aimed at ensuring the
continuity, quality and relevance of teaching undertaken by cover staff.
However, due account must be taken of the time needed to produce banks of
materials. Teachers should capture work they produce electronically and
make use of other resources such as Teachernet.

Is it possible to share support staff with other schools and is this
complicated contractually speaking?
It is possible and practical to have separate contracts or for there to be a
‘host’ school which manages the contract and pays the employee, charging
other schools for their share of the costs.

The arrangements for managing such staff will need to be organised carefully
to ensure that they are used effectively and efficiently and so that they have a
clear understanding of their duties and responsibilities and to whom they are
accountable. Please contact your personnel provider for guidance.

If a support staff member needs to be recruited to undertake ‘specified
work’, could an existing member of teaching/support staff be made
redundant in order to provide the necessary funding?
This could happen. However, a full and proper case would need to be made
and the appropriate procedures applied. Please consult your personnel
provider in such circumstances.

Parents and governors

Do I need to inform parents?
Using support staff in new roles of covering classes or undertaking specified
work might cause concern to parents. It is important that there is
communication with them on this matter and it is recommended that this be
done through formulating the cover policy.

How should a parental complaint that their child is not always taught by
a qualified teacher be addressed?
Parents need to be prepared for this possibility. Reassure them about the
quality and continuity of education and that it would only be for short periods.
Explain the advantages of the arrangement ie teachers focussing on teaching
and learning activities and better qualified support staff being used to deliver
the learning provision. It will always be a teacher at the school who has
responsibility for a child’s teaching and learning.
What is the governing body role in this?
Governors need to be pro-active in implementing the workforce reforms.
Clearly they have to approve policy. However, it goes beyond this. In
considering new roles for support staff and allowing teachers to focus on
teaching and learning the school will effectively be 'remodelling' and there
may be significant implications to staffing structures and use of budget.
Governors therefore need to be closely involved in this process and give
appropriate approvals. Governors may refer to Workforce Remodelling
guidance document NRT/0015/2004.


Do staff require a Criminal Record Disclosure?
Headteachers must comply with current advice from the appropriate authority
(generally the LEA) in terms of criminal record checks. Any member of staff
with potential unsupervised access to children must have a satisfactory
enhanced disclosure from the Criminal Record Bureau (CRB).

Do I need a school policy?
Each school should ensure that there are appropriate policies in place that
provide the framework by which the school intends to manage issues such as
absence, cover and PPA including the type of staff who may be called upon
to undertake this task. It should make reference to job description, skills and
training, role of class teacher/head of department, arrangements for pre-
planned work and monitoring of cover.

Will Ofsted make allowances when observing a support member of staff
covering/teaching a class?
Allowances will not be made. Ofsted’s purpose is to judge the standard of
teaching and learning taking place leading to pupil progress and attainment.
Systems of supervision and the quality of their implementation will be
scrutinised and judged (see the Ofsted website). Ofsted are increasingly
aware of the remodeling process and have started to comment favourably on
remodeling schools.

Are support staff insured to carry out this work?
Support staff undertaking cover supervision or work under HLTA status are
covered by the Council’s insurance. Headteachers must satisfy themselves
that any staff undertaking such activities is appropriately skilled, experienced
and trained and that a risk assessment is carried out where there might be a
health and safety issue.

What training will be available for headteachers, other senior staff and
governors to support workforce reforms and remodelling?
Local training and support is provided locally and will be communicated by
your LEA Remodelling Adviser. In addition your LEA is part of Remodel West.
Remodel West provide regional training and has been endorsed by the
National Remodelling Team as providing benchmark training for the country.
Particular benefits of the training are:

           • collaboration with other authorities, shared good practice
           • networking experiences for headteachers across LEAs
           • headteachers presentation from schools who are making headway with
             reforms in their schools

To top