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RARELY COVER—WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
From 1st September 2009 teachers will have a contractual right to ‘only rarely’ cover. What do you think this means?
planned and unplanned absences of teachers—including absence due to sickness, from 1st September 2009. Cover and HLTAs No HLTA should be actively teaching other than under the supervision of a teacher. Cover supervisors should not be doing any active teaching. Where you are aware that teaching assistants are being requested to go beyond the proper limits of their role, you should inform your NUT school rep or Division Secretary. The excuse that funding is an issue so supply teachers cannot be engaged is incorrect as budgetary constraints cannot remove this contractual obligation. Schools have known about this for four or five years so have had plenty of time to make plans. Split classes From 1st September 2009 you should only rarely be asked to take pupils from a class that has been split when the circumstances are unforeseen.
Cabinet Reshuffle: It’s still Balls!
The NUT’s view is that, from that date, teachers should only be asked to undertake cover in exceptional circumstances. Make sure that your school is preparing to meet its obligations. All foreseen circumstances need to be planned for in advance. Current situation [until the end of this term] Current recommended cover levels are not more than 3.5 hours per year in primary and not more than 11 hours per year in secondary. If this limit is being breached in your school, contact your NUT school rep.
Protecting your right to ‘only rarely’ cover We are concerned that some schools may be seeking to introduce a revised fixed cover limit from 1st September 2009. There can be no fixed cover limit. Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “The Union will strongly resist the retention of a fixed hours limit. Any new limit, however low, would quickly be seen as a justified cover level within schools. The School Cover Strategy The Union’s view is that head National Union will oppose any changes to the current provisions which might weaken your contractual right to teachers should establish a ‘only rarely’ cover from September 2009.” cover strategy to deal with
Your ‘Rarely Cover’ Questions answered on page 3...
THE NUT: “We work up to a standard not down to a price”
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PLYMOUTH DIVISION NATIONAL UNION OF TEACHERS
The next general meeting for all NUT members will be held on Wednesday 1st July at The China House Sutton Road Plymouth. Main agenda items include
‘Rarely Cover’ and SATS in 2010
Free buffet from 1700 Meeting begins 1720 for about an hour Other points include Trusts and Academies in Plymouth, Tolpuddle 2009 and nominations for DGS and other national officers [a full agenda may be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org]
Come along to the meeting so we can answer your queries!
Sell-by date expired!
NUT Diaries are being despatched to school reps— make sure you check your mail and if yours doesn’t turn up by mid-July, ask your school office and tell NUT HQ that your essential NUT mail isn’t getting through!
A GOOD LOCAL SCHOOL FOR EVERY CHILD
Your ‘Rarely Cover’ Questions Answered
What does rarely cover really mean? Straightforwardly, it means that teachers cannot be asked to cover for an absent colleague if the circumstance was foreseen. My school handed out copies of the WAMG Guidance [written by the social partners]. Does this “official” guidance carry more weight than the NUT’s guidance? 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 teachers unexpectedly away because they’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 for cover? No, unless there is an unforeseen emergency. If lost, your PPA periods, as now, would have to be paid back because they’re guaranteed. Can I be asked to cover on the first 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 are telling staff they will have to cover because there is a problem with the school budget. Can this be used to force teachers 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 SMT would 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 share children amongst our colleagues 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 “no detriment” 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 noncontact period; it has to stay to meet the no detriment clause. What can we do if we think the school policy doesn’t fulfil the contractual 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 the school policy? After informing the HT, and we suggest you do this collectively, contact the Division Secretary. A number of options are open to NUT members in schools where there is non-compliance. This includes asking the LA to direct schools to comply, and if everything else fails, balloting for strike action. Is it OK for HLTAs, cover supervisors and TAs acting as cover supervisors to take classes for the 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 a major road is closed and large numbers of staff are unexpectedly missing, can staff be used to double-up classes and have their PPA taken away? When these situations arise schools should already have in place a risk assessment that covers this contingency. Doublingup classes is not a reliable solution and in most cases schools will close.
Any more questions? Email to 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.
Plymouth people against academies and trust schools http://www.handsoffplymouthschools.org.uk
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Join the General Secretary Christine Blower with the NUT SW Banner on the Sunday procession and hear Tony Benn’s inspirational speech—not to be missed! Meet at the NUT marquee
Plymouth Division: email@example.com 01503 240527 National Executive Member: firstname.lastname@example.org Regional Office: email@example.com,uk 01392 258028
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