Reception teacher sick leave

(29 Posts)
Moana123 Tue 22-Jan-19 16:34:40

Can I ask for some advice on the below situation?

My daughter is in reception at a really lovely school, where she also attended nursery, and her older brother also attends.

Throughout nursery her main teacher was off sick for lots of periods of time... mostly this was covered by TA’s / nursery nurses, but eventually after May half term teacher was signed off long term sick, so they brought in a substitute teacher until the end of term to give the kids some consistency.

Now this same teacher has been moved and is now her reception teacher, when we were advised of this move a few of the parents raised concerns about the teachers sick leave history, and we were assured the school would keep a close eye on it.

Well since starting school in September the teacher has only managed to complete 3 whole weeks, with many 2/3 day absences here and there and then 2 weeks before Christmas she was signed off sick until middle of Jan. All of these absences have been covered by floating staff within the school and usually a different teacher everyday - they have had the same TA throughout the whole time.

My concern is the lack of consistency the kids are getting in a teacher, they don’t know one day to the next who they will be getting that day. They also don’t appear to be progressing with their education, my daughter only gets read to and book changed about once a week in school.

Would this concern you? Or do you think as it’s only reception (which is still learning through play) that I should let it go?


OP’s posts: |
wtftodo Tue 22-Jan-19 19:55:10

That sounds really tough. I also have a child in reception (who also only gets reading / book changed max once a week, more typically every 10days). Her teacher has had some days here and there though I don’t know if sickness or another reason. However the teaching assistants are constant and the head of early years is great so there is some consistency.
I guess the issue is they can’t divulge info or HR plan with you - but they could presumably get a more consistent supply/cover teacher in?

Holidayshopping Tue 22-Jan-19 19:59:31

my daughter only gets read to and book changed about once a week in school

That is very normal.

admission Tue 22-Jan-19 22:16:12

That level of absence would not be accepted within any business without a great deal of discussion with the person and confirmation that they were really not fit to do the job expected.
If they are really not fit to do the job, long term, then the school needs to be talking with HR, Occupational health and the staff member involved to come to a resolution to this issue, so that the pupils involved are not disadvantaged in the longer term

PurpleDaisies Tue 22-Jan-19 22:23:45

my daughter only gets read to and book changed about once a week in school.

Do you mean read with one to one? That’s entirely normal.

The situation isn’t ideal. I doubt the school is just ignoring it though. It’s worth talking to them about your concerns. They won’t give you any personal detail but hopefully they can tell you more about how they’re making sure the children are still making progress.

Norestformrz Wed 23-Jan-19 05:31:57

Unfortunately people get ill

Moana123 Wed 23-Jan-19 05:35:27

Thanks all, and completely understand people get sick, the teacher has my sympathy, but surely it shouldn’t then have a detrimental effect on 30 4/5 year olds. Good to know that reading 1 on 1 once a week is the normal amount.

Thanks for your thoughts.

OP’s posts: |


LanguageAsAFlower Wed 23-Jan-19 05:44:50

I've recently had this issue but as a school leader in secondary. Depending on length of sicknotes and what is wrong with the member of staff it is really difficult to get consistent cover. They can't give her job away whilst she's ill and high quality supply who are prepared to do short term are few and far between (particularly in some areas). I've spoken to really frustrated parents and been really frustrated myself, but there's very little anyone can do. I feel for you though.

MaryH90 Wed 23-Jan-19 05:57:32

OP I’m a teacher and a mum and I would have the same concerns. My sympathies are with the member of staff but you’re right in thinking that it does cause issues in terms of consistency for the children. I would say this would be a particular issue for the little ones as feeling safe and secure with a predictable routine and familiar people is key. Not to mention the questionable quality of teaching if there are multiple people in there. Sorry I have no advice about next steps, I’m not sure what you can do to help resolve this, the school are in a bit of an awkward position as a PP said. Hope it’s resolved soon.

HexagonalBattenburg Wed 23-Jan-19 07:40:23

We've had it this year with DD2's teacher who basically seems to never ever be in. Thankfully at least there's a SCITT student in there so there's a fair degree of consistent staffing to be honest the student is more competent and caring than the class teacher who's been a nightmare . It's very frustrating - especially for the children in the class who really do need their predictable routine and consistency who have struggled massively.

Teacher in question's absence record is always interesting - this year it's definitely veered toward "taking the piss completely" territory.

Mine get heard read once a week (but again the teacher we have trouble with tends to skip my child out if she's running behind - which again is taking the mickey a bit over my good nature and generally supportive attitude of the school when it goes on for weeks) at a minimum - the child in the other class gets heard a lot more but their class teacher has a lot more parents going in to listen to readers quite possibly as she's not pissed them all off in the way her colleague has done

At least they tend to have the same 2-3 supply teachers who come into the school - and like I say, I'm now at the point I roll my eyes more that the class teacher's back and putting in an appearance (the trainee is very very good and was a TA at the school before)!

It's very hard for the school I know - and I'm normally incredibly supportive of teachers as a whole and the teachers in this school in general (they're 99.9% amazing... just we have the 0.1% bad apple this year).

MissWimpyDimple Wed 23-Jan-19 07:45:19

Same happened to my DD in year 2. The whole year was a bit of a write off. She just didn't really progress.

We didn't have a meeting with the head to discuss the longer term plan.

I would just try and spend as much time with her going over whatever they are doing in school. Luckily at this level it's simple stuff. It's year 1/2 where the formal learning really kicks in

StarlightIntheNight Wed 23-Jan-19 11:33:42

Hello, it could be possible the teacher is suffering from a serious illness, such as cancer, which is why the school does not make a fuss about it. For example, she would probably be fired if she kept taking of sick for common colds etc. But if she had a serious illness like cancer, then its entirely possible she would need to take these days off etc and its ongoing.

It is frustrating though that the DC get effected by not having a regular teacher. But reception is mostly play anyway. Support the reading at home. You can easily buy the entire set of Biff, Chip and kipper books for I think 15 pounds! Buy it and then you can read more often with your child. Or buy another set of books for early readers...there are loads at low costs.

Beerflavourednipples Wed 23-Jan-19 11:38:57

Hello, it could be possible the teacher is suffering from a serious illness, such as cancer, which is why the school does not make a fuss about it. For example, she would probably be fired if she kept taking of sick for common colds etc. But if she had a serious illness like cancer, then its entirely possible she would need to take these days off etc and its ongoing.

If she has cancer and is having active treatment, it's highly unlikely she would be allowed to come back in at all until treatment is over because of infection risk. Even if she did feel well enough to teach Reception!

As an aside, being read to and having books changed once a week is totally normal. How many times a week would you expect a reception child to read?

BubblesBuddy Wed 23-Jan-19 11:41:01

Parents cannot force this situation to be resolved. However, admission is entirely correct and the school should take a robust approach to resolving it. It isn’t satisfactory and it is detrimental. I have a sneaking suspicion this teacher doesn’t want to teach YR. I have seen this 20 years ago when I was a governor. Like many schools we couldn’t afford a nursery teacher, so we asked her to teach YR. She went off on long term sick because she didn’t want an early years role which meant teaching in YR. she didn’t come back and it was very difficult. Schools can get insurance for sickness but it might be difficult if she does a few days then off again.

YR isn’t just learning through play. Many children can read fairly well by now and the very bright ones need a more varied diet which requires planning and expertise to deliver. Mine changed books on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I have no idea how often the teacher heard them read but as they progressed well, everyone was happy.

Could you ascertain if other parents are worried? The school cannot share sickness details with you but they can listen to your concerns. I rather suspect they will share your concerns though. Also when a teacher pops in and out, it’s not necessarily long term sickness. The school do need to deal with this and find out if he/she is fit to work, or not. Just for the sake of the children.

SoyDora Wed 23-Jan-19 11:43:12

My reception child reads with a TA or her teacher 3 times a week and changes her book every time she’s finished one, so daily some weeks (she’s a book worm!) so a bit surprised to see that once a week is normal!
I can completely see why you’re concerned regarding the lack of consistency. Do they have the same TA’s working with them consistently while the teacher isn’t there?

Thesnobbymiddleclassone Wed 23-Jan-19 11:47:15

I'd be concerned they're falling behind with reading!

My DDs school read with the children regularly in groups and individually and we have a new reading book every single day!

Beerflavourednipples Wed 23-Jan-19 11:51:44

My reception child reads with a TA or her teacher 3 times a week and changes her book every time she’s finished one, so daily some weeks (she’s a book worm!) so a bit surprised to see that once a week is normal!

Wow, how many are in the class? How many adults do they have in there?!

My kids read their book or read their tricky words alternate weeks, once a week, and get two new books on a Friday.

When I taught reception I heard each child read once a week (6 each day) and we changed books twice a week. Children who were getting no help at home were also listened to by parent helpers for more practice.

There is no need for a school adult to listen to a child in their class read more than once a week, if they are being read with regularly at home.

anniehm Wed 23-Jan-19 12:05:41

You are right to be concerned, books once a week is normal - I recommend nightly at home though. My eldest didn't do reception year at all (overseas at the time) and was absolutely fine so please put it into perspective but I would write to the school to raise your formal concerns and say that two years running this has happened, acknowledge your sympathy for the teacher but you need to put your daughter first. It's tough but in the private sector they wouldn't have a job with that level of sickness

Aventurine Wed 23-Jan-19 12:09:50

I think they made the wrong decision giving her the same class two years in a row.

bellinisurge Wed 23-Jan-19 12:12:08

My DD's reception teacher was rarely there at the crucial drop off time due to "childcare issues ". Like we don't have childcare issues. I nearly moved schools because of tbe inconsistency and wasn't the only one.
Speak to the Head and, if necessary, the governors.

SoyDora Wed 23-Jan-19 12:13:18

30 children, a teacher and two TAs. She reads at home daily (and is pretty advanced with her reading, she was reading fluently before starting school) so I wasn’t expecting her to read with a teacher quite so often! She loves it though so not going to object grin.

2isabella2 Wed 23-Jan-19 12:19:02

I'd be really concerned too. My daughter reads twice a week at school and have her book changed then too. Even then, we use our own books too so would recommend buying some from the level she's at.

Her teacher is part time but it's always the same teacher they have each Wednesday and the same TAs so still consistent.

I'd question why she has had the same children two years running, especially with a poor sickness record.

BubblesBuddy Wed 23-Jan-19 15:02:15

It is a very expensive model of staffing to have a fully qualified teacher in a nursery. Obviously many private nurseries do not do this because it is unaffordable. I suspect they moved her to save money. It is perfectly normal to have nursery nurses staffing a nursery. The qualified teacher in YR is probably head of Early Years. I would suspect this is the problem. YR is more accountable and it's a more "formal" education in that there are more expectations. She may not like the move.

Moana123 Wed 23-Jan-19 16:14:52

Thanks for all the responses everyone.

Just to clarify I don’t expect the school to share any personal information with me with regards to the teachers sickness, and I’m not suggesting that she shouldn’t be doing the job, more so just can they share with us parents what the plan of action is when the teacher is not going to be in.

I went in today and had a really good meeting with the EYFS leader. Who like a PP said, already shared my concerns, but assured me that they are closely monitoring the class and are making sure that they follow the lesson plans put in place for them.

I do have the early reader books and me & my daughter are working our way through those at home. With regards to reading at school, I can’t tell you the last time she read with a member of the teaching staff, it’s always the same parent volunteers that read with the children. I also go into the school and volunteer/ read with other classes...

I really appreciate all the replies and I don’t expect this has an easy solution (I know it’s a hard situation for all involved) but meeting with the head of EYFS today has put my mind at rest.

Thank you

OP’s posts: |
Norestformrz Wed 23-Jan-19 18:39:29

*"*^*It is a very expensive model of staffing to have a fully qualified teacher in a nursery*^*"*
But a legal requirement in state maintained schools
For children aged three and over in maintained nursery schools and nursery classes in maintained schools
• there must be at least one member of staff for every 13 children
• at least one member of staff must be a school teacher as defined by section
122 of the Education Act 200241

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