Your ‘Rarely Cover’ Questions Answered
What does rarely cover reallymean?
Straightforwardly, it means that teachers cannot be asked to cover for an absent colleague if the circumstance was foreseen.
My school handed out copies ofthe WAMG Guidance [written bythe social partners]. Does this“official” guidance carry moreweight than the NUT’sguidance?
No. There is no “official” guidance.The WAMG and NUT guides on ‘rarely cover’ have equal weight so there is every reason to look at the NUT’s advice on the rarely cover arrangements to see how this affords greater protection to teachers—particularly on leave of absence policies, your CPD entitlement, educational trips and attempts to re-timetable.
What about teachersunexpectedly away becausethey’re ill?
Historically, schools know that teachers are absent due to illness and there will be a pattern of absence that can be analysed.Schools are expected to plan for this foreseen absence and make plans accordingly.
Can my PPA periods be used forcover?
No, unless there is an unforeseen emergency. If lost, your PPAperiods, as now, would have to be paid back because they’re guaranteed.
Can I be asked to cover on thefirst day a teacher is absent?
No. The school must have a strategy in place to cover such occurrences from September 1st.Only in unexpected and unforeseen circumstances [and then only after exhausting all other possible alternatives] can teachers be used for cover.
I’ve heard that some schools aretelling staff they will have tocover because there is aproblem with the school budget.Can this be used to forceteachers to carry on covering?
No. This is a contractual obligation and is unaffected by budgetary considerations. If we look at the contractual obligation on invigilation then it can be quickly understood that teachers cannot be asked to break what is part of their contract, and if they should be asked they must refuse as they are obliged to adhere to that obligation.
If I want to carry on doing cover,who will stop me?
Your HT will be responsible in ensuring that you comply with the new rarely cover regulations.
In my school the HT said SMTwould do the cover. Is this OK?
No. Senior managers have the same obligation not to cover and only teachers who have cover as a specified element written into their contracts will be allowed to cover as a matter of course.
In my primary school we sharechildren amongst ourcolleagues if someone is away.Does this count as cover?
Indeed it does and if this were to happen for a whole day then you would be covering for 5 hours or so. Clearly this doesn’t meet the ‘rarely cover’ obligation. Your school must plan alternatives for this.
What does the term “nodetriment” mean?
Here is an example. If you had 3 PPA periods on this year’s timetable and an additional period that you could sometimes lose for cover, from September you will still have the 3 timetabled PPA periods shown on your timetable
but the school cannot remove the non- contact period; it has to stay to meet the no detriment clause.
What can we do if we think theschool policy doesn’t fulfil thecontractual obligation to only‘rarely cover?’
The plan in your school has to be discussed with staff and union representatives. You can be assured that the NUT, NASUWT and the ATL will work together to ensure that you do not suffer from either a poor consultation process or any attempt to impose a cover limit. Schools are not allowed to create a local policy that breaks the contractual obligation.
But what can we do if that’s theschool policy?
After informing the HT, and we suggest you do this collectively,contact the Division Secretary. Anumber of options are open to NUT members in schools where there is non-compliance. This in- cludes asking the LA to direct schools to comply, and if every- thing else fails, balloting for strike action.
Is it OK for HLTAs, cover super-visors and TAs acting as coversupervisors to take classes forthe time a teacher is absent?
No. There are precise restrictions on what these non-teachers can do. The aim is to ensure that children receive teaching from a qualified teacher at the earliest opportunity. The NUT suggests that in a secondary school a cover supervisor or HLTA should only be allowed to cover for up to 3 days before a supply teacher is engaged; in a primary, no longer than the first day of absence.
Why is this being rushed in?
Schools have known about this change for four or five years— plenty of time to plan ahead to meet the contractual obligation.
If there is severe snow, or amajor road is closed and largenumbers of staff areunexpectedly missing, can staffbe used to double-up classesand have their PPA taken away?
When these situations arise schools should already have in place a risk assessment that covers this contingency. Doubling- up classes is not a reliable solution and in most cases schools will close.
Any more questions? Emailto Plymouth NUT—see P4
All PPA periods have to be shown on your timetable. If your school refuses to do this,contact the Division Secretary.This isn't an option—it’s another contractual obligation in the STP&CD.