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what are the rules on TA covering classes - regular, one afternoon a week

(40 Posts)
pecans Wed 14-Nov-12 17:22:33

My dd's class is taken by a TA for one afternoon a week. I like the TA but when I told my mum (ex-head) she thought that was appalling because the dc weren't being taught.

Are schools allowed to use a TA to cover PPA time?

Hulababy Fri 16-Nov-12 13:58:09

I don't think a TA or a teacher being strict should be an issue. There are huge differences between different teachers, not just between TAs and teachers, when it comes to how strict a teacher/TA is. So long as she/he is being fair and consistent, a bit of strictness shouldn't be a problem. I am probably more strict than some of the teachers/TAs I work with. However others will also be more strict than me.

I teach ICT for 2 of the classes I do PPA for. I plan all the ICT for y2. I deliver it and assess it for 2 of the 3 classes. In the other Y2 class I teach RE - this has been planned by a different teacher. We share planning between the teaching staff. I also do a half session of RE for one fo the first two classes in my time. In foundation stage I follow rough plans that the class teacher leaves as she finds that most useful because of the way our foundation stage works. They are not full detailed plans - just a list of routines for the afternoon, plus a some numeracy ideas and a focus activity. This is HLTA work in my school. I get PPA time for this.

I also, along with our other TAs, plan for, deliver and assess a phonics group every day. That is TA level 3 work in my school. There is no official planning time allocated for this though. We do have plans to follow but we need to decide what resources, which sounds, etc. to do.

And I plan, deliver and assess an early morning group which is a group focusing on lower middle abilities literacy skills - and both child and parent attends. This happens 3 days a week, and runs for just under a year. I get paid TA level 3 for this, although get no planning time as such for this.

exoticfruits Thu 15-Nov-12 17:03:29

Probably the TA is being pressurised to do it-I don't think they ought to for the pay.

pecans Thu 15-Nov-12 13:47:51

She doesn't like the afternoon because she says the TA is strict and it isn't much fun. She isn't strict I don't think - she's just lovely at breakfast club - but there are quite a few rowdy boys and I would imagine she is extra-firm in order to keep them in line... which also makes me think that maybe dd doesn't learn much in these afternoons and that maybe she is finding that frustrating.

And I'm absolutely not disparaging her as a TA - I am wondering whether she has the skills to stand in for a teacher, and whether the school should be deploying like that.

Good point about the more basics qualifications in the old days - but I guess my mum wouldn't see an NVQ as equivalent to full-on teaching training anyway.

I guess there is nothing I can do about it anyway - but was just interested in whether it was allowed or advisable. Am still not sure, but there have been some interesting comments here.

auntevil Thu 15-Nov-12 11:24:08

pecans you said that your DD doesn't like the afternoon that the TA teaches. Have you asked her why?
DS1 has a HLTA cover PPA. Her lessons are Religious Studies and Spanish. DS hates Religious Studies - but not the HLTA.
Could it be that it is the lesson topic and not the TA that your DD doesn't like?
In our school, the TAs have a minimum NVQ3 - regardless as to whether they are "full-time mum who has taken up a TA job quite late in life."
Many of our TAs have had amazing careers before hand and can add their experiences to the mix. Ultimately though, it is their ability in school that counts.
In my mum's time at school, TAs needed no more than basic qualifications, so perhaps your mum too has more recollections from this time?

exoticfruits Thu 15-Nov-12 07:58:00

I think that you are missing the point with the term 'supply teachers'. I was a supply teacher and I did the cover in the same school, every week for two years paid on supply rates. No one is suggesting that you phone up and book an unknown supply teacher for cover on the day! I would agree with clam- it defeats the object if you have to do the planning yourself- much easier to actually teach it yourself.
People will insist on talking about supply teachers in such disparaging terms! Often they know the children better than the regular teachers- when I was doing it I had known, and taught, the year 6 children since they were in Reception. All the supply teachers that I worked with were mature, highly experienced teachers who were regulars in the same schools. They just didn't want full time work. I didn't work for an agency and I only worked for a few schools- that was the norm where I was doing it and the schools only used an agency as a last resort, once they had phoned through all their list of regulars.

clam Wed 14-Nov-12 23:42:38

I spent a period of time planning for a TA to cover my PPA until I chucked my toys out of the pram and told the Head it was more hassle than it was worth and I'd rather ditch the PPA altogether and teach the blardy lesson myself. Would have been quicker and easier and more effective.

It made the HT realise she was actually breaking the law, and she then changed the provision and I got "proper" release time.

Euphemia Wed 14-Nov-12 22:44:24

I've never heard of supply teachers coming in to cover non-class contact time. In my experience either the DHT does it, or a teacher employed in the school purely in that capacity.

mrz Wed 14-Nov-12 21:26:25

It really depends what the /tA is doing when she covers

pecans Wed 14-Nov-12 21:21:56

Yes; on what evidence does she say that they are not being taught? Sounds a bit outmoded as a view.

My mum thinks that the TA and the teacher are very different when it comes to taking a class, I think - that a teacher's lessons are targeted and much more valuable than a TA's.

It may be an outmoded view - she is retired - but she was incredibly successful and much-admired as a head. And now that she has said that, i do find myself wondering whether dd learns anything during the TA's afternoon. The TA is definitely not an ex-teacher - she was a full-time mum who has taken up a TA job quite late in life.

Mrz's description of ex-teachers covering PPA sounds perfect - and does make me feel that dd's experience might not be very good.

Is every afternoon in school valuable or does a weekly afternoon of downtime not matter in the grand scheme of things?

mrz Wed 14-Nov-12 21:01:38

The teachers who cover PPA in my school previously taught there and left when they had families etc so know the school, staff and children very well.

Yes; on what evidence does she say that they are not being taught? Sounds a bit outmoded as a view.

exoticfruits Wed 14-Nov-12 20:56:06

Exactly Greensleeves-you are only asked to do regular PPA cover if you are good! The supply teachers that I have worked with are very experienced and have worked in the same schools for years and know all the children.

Greensleeves Wed 14-Nov-12 20:48:27

I'm supply teaching at the moment, I'm not useless, honestly shock

I do planning and assessment and marking and I get to know the children quite well, quite quickly - I don't care any less about them because I'm a supply teacher.

The TAs at the school I do most of my work in are excellent. All of them. No class would suffer from spending an afternoon in their care, in cooperation with the class teacher whose PPA they were covering.

Strangely bigoted and ill-founded views some people have!

birthdaypanic Wed 14-Nov-12 20:44:00

I am HLTA and I cover ppa and cover whenever ct is off. At my school it is up to the ct to decide if they want to plan for ppa most choose to do this as they know the continuity of the week will be followed.

exoticfruits Wed 14-Nov-12 20:42:28

Supply teachers are generally excellent teachers-they just don't want full time work. (it isn't that they are second best and can't get jobs!)

exoticfruits Wed 14-Nov-12 20:41:07

The supply teacher does have a clue!! They work there regularly, discuss it with the teacher and have proper plans-seen by the teacher in advance.
Where this doesn't happen I know that teachers don't really find it worthwhile-it is easier to teach it themselves.

It depends on the school. And how much they can get away with. What should happen and what does happen can be worlds apart.

In a nutshell!

numbum Wed 14-Nov-12 20:36:36

Ours have PE with outside coaches during PPA time. I'm shocked to learn that teachers dont need to plan to cover their PPA though. So a supply could come in and not have a clue what they're supposed to be doing? Or do they get told in advance what they need to plan for (actually I'm guessing that's what happens now I've written it down!)

41notTrendy Wed 14-Nov-12 20:24:37

At my last school, PPA was planned and marked by me and delivered by a TA. At my current school PPA is planned, taught and marked by a permanent, part-time teacher.
It depends on the school. And how much they can get away with. What should happen and what does happen can be worlds apart.

exoticfruits Wed 14-Nov-12 20:20:38

I know two TAs who are also qualified (and experienced) teachers, so they are very competent to cover PPA. Could this be the case here?

If it is the case I would hope they get a teacher's pay!

I did PPA time as a regular supply teacher-I did all the planning, preparation and marking. I can't see how it helps the teacher if they have to do the planning.

Euphemia Wed 14-Nov-12 19:26:34

In Scotland, only a teacher is allowed to be in sole charge of a class.

auntevil Wed 14-Nov-12 19:14:22

Maybe we just have a lot of control freaks? grin
Back to pecans point, my DSs are taught by HLTAs and TAs and I am quite happy - but then I know that the lesson has been prepared by the teacher and 'delivered' by the TA.
We also have TAs with a good level of experience and qualifications, who , if they cover lessons, get regularly assessed by the SLT.

Hulababy Wed 14-Nov-12 19:10:56

We looked into this in detail a year ago at school, with the LEA and the unions.

Level 1/2 TAs should not be covering PPA or taking classes on their own at all.

Level 3 TAs can cover PPA but it is not recommended. They should only be delivering preplanned work - not teaching nor planning either. However teachers are not supposed to plan for lessons that occur during their PPA - in some schools they do anyway, and in some schools PPA time is simply supervision - maybe whilst their is a PE lesson occurring with a pe specialist taking the class, might be golden time, on other non-teaching activities. Level 3 TAs can also be used to cover up to 3 days of unplanned teacher absence (though most schools set this to just first day).

HLTA/Level 4 TAs can cover PPA. They plan, deliver, teach and assess.

Although many TAs are qualified and experiences teachers, with QTS, if they are employed as a ta they should be used for TA work, not teaching duties. If they are used for teaching duties then they should be employed and paid accordingly.

Durab Wed 14-Nov-12 19:02:50

People often say they "shouldn't". At our school, it's mainly HLTAs that do, but the only difference is that the regular TAs get £3.15 extra an hour for covering a class, whereas the HLTAs have to do it for their ordinary money. All PPA time is covered by TAs here and most sickness.

mrz Wed 14-Nov-12 19:01:37

No auntevil I don't give them any instructions.

auntevil Wed 14-Nov-12 18:58:10

mrz when you have your PPA - do you not give the person covering any instructions as to what they should be doing?
Our school uses several different methods for covering.
Specialist art teacher - PPA time during lesson - art teacher plans.
HLTAs - follow week's planning
Agency - same teacher each week. Follows plan from CT
Several CTs would rather use their TA or HLTA to cover as they know the level of their support and can continue their plans.

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