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Teacher absence

(62 Posts)
m0therofdragons Tue 10-Sep-19 13:41:04

I'm wondering how other schools approach this.

Over the past 2 school years a teacher at my dc primary has had periods of being signed off (both times most of the summer term). The school is great at letting dc know who will teach them the following September and does settling in sessions for all years one day a week for 4 weeks before the summer holidays. Dd is in this particular class this school year and as the teacher was off in June / July she had no settling in sessions and has begun the year with a supply teacher.

I completely understand the school is unable to discuss a teachers sickness and it's not appropriate to ask for details but I also have a very upset and unsettled 7 year old and have had zero communication from the school. In cases of long term sick, is it really the case that the school aren't allowed to say anything at all even if to confirm supply teacher will be continuous and work is being set by the other year 3 teacher? (I've no idea who is setting the work).

It feels like we're all supposed to carry on as if the situation is normal but in a small school it's like the elephant in the room.

OP’s posts: |
Nyon Tue 10-Sep-19 13:48:48

But the school doesn’t know if it will be continuous - only to the end of each sick note. It would also be incredibly humiliating for the teacher to find that parents were informed of this process I’m also sure it’s illegal

Work will be set by someone in charge so that learning isn’t affected. The supply teacher, considering the amount of ex teachers doing it, isn’t likely to be horrific either.

Maybe try and find a tiny bit of compassion for someone who’s clearly struggling, rather than being annoyed that the school isn’t giving you the full run down on their illness. ‘I completely understand’ = but I don’t care anyway.

LolaSmiles Tue 10-Sep-19 13:50:55

In cases of long term sick, is it really the case that the school aren't allowed to say anything at all even if to confirm supply teacher will be continuous and work is being set by the other year 3 teacher? (I've no idea who is setting the work).
Would school know if it's continuous or not? Not always. At what point should they be saying something, e.g. they say it's til half term but then things change.
Why would the other year 3 teacher be setting work? They might be. Sometimes I set work for absent colleagues. Other times the supply teacher does it following our schemes of work. Why would parents need to be told who is setting work?

It feels like we're all supposed to carry on as if the situation is normal but in a small school it's like the elephant in the room.
It's not really. It's only as big an elephant as you make it.

School have the information they need. They've ensured the class is staffed appropriately (it could be a termly contract with school as direct employers, it could be rolling half term through an agency, either way school are happy they're staffed accordingly, it could be that school have overstaffed and taken a 1 year contract on because they anticipate substantial absence, it's their call and the class have a class teacher). They're aware of the work set. It's not really anyone else's business I'm afraid.

PETRONELLAS Tue 10-Sep-19 13:52:39

It’s frustrating I agree. I also think the ‘ownership’ of the class and any accountability for progress is abandoned as they’re being taught but not with enough of a purpose.
Perhaps I’m projecting my own experience here hmm and know they can’t divilge any details but a headteacher message of ‘I understand this is disappointing but this is what we are doing’ would help.

m0therofdragons Tue 10-Sep-19 13:54:14

I do understand and I do care. I absolutely do not expect any medical info at all but I do want to be able to support my child, who is my priority and is struggling. I don't know what the answer is so that's why I'm asking here as to what is normal as I've had no communication at all. Why you feel the need to be so aggressive is beyond me. I have an upset dd and asked for advice but yes clearly I lack empathy because I'm concerned about my dc happiness and education hmm

OP’s posts: |
RedskyLastNight Tue 10-Sep-19 13:54:49

What information would you like to know that you've not been told?
You've been told that teacher A is off sick and they will be covered by supply teacher B.

The school can't tell you
- why the teacher is off sick
- when they will be back

What else do you need to know?
I'm not sure why your DC is particularly unsettled? It would be unusual to do lots of settling in sessions in the previous year (DC's school did one afternoon) and presumably all that is happened is that she's started in a new class with a new teacher, exactly as she would have if her actual class teacher was there. If you feel she is not settling, by all means discuss with the teacher.

imaflutteringkite Tue 10-Sep-19 13:57:03

This sounds quite familiar. The school doesn't begin with N does it?

m0therofdragons Tue 10-Sep-19 14:01:51

Maybe reassurance school has a clear plan and who the key staff will be in the class? TAs are all floating so currently there's no consistency and dd is going to school each day not knowing who her teacher will be. If this is so unimportant, why does school make such a big thing about dc meeting their teachers in the summer term?!

The teacher off sick usually sends in lesson plan for the supply teacher (however this isn't the case presumably for long term so how would a supply use schemes of work to plan lessons other teachers planned over the summer? I think that's unreasonable but maybe supply teachers are amazingly good.

OP’s posts: |
m0therofdragons Tue 10-Sep-19 14:04:24

* You've been told that teacher A is off sick and they will be covered by supply teacher B.*
I have been told this by my 7 year old because she noticed her teacher isn't there and I know she was off in the summer term because my friend's son was in her class. School has said nothing.

Settling in in the summer term happened for all other classes but dd has a different TA for each session.

OP’s posts: |
LolaSmiles Tue 10-Sep-19 14:05:18

I also think the ‘ownership’ of the class and any accountability for progress is abandoned as they’re being taught but not with enough of a purpose
Based on what?
The fact they have a different teacher?

Schools, like any organisation, have accountability structures. If we have long term supply in my area then even though I'm not the class teacher I am accountable for that class still, just as I would be if they had a "normal" teacher.

Making all sorts of assertions about having a different teacher is exactly how some long term supply staff end up starting behind before they've even started because parents who know nothing about the situation (and rightly so) have decided the education must be worse, that they're not real teachers and so on.

Perhaps I’m projecting my own experience here hmm and know they can’t divilge any details but a headteacher message of ‘I understand this is disappointing but this is what we are doing’ would help.
The situation is quite clearly teacher A is absent and teacher B is taking the class. Why would a headteacher need to reannounce that?

m0therofdragons
It's the start of the school year. It takes a while for all classes to settle right up to y11. Getting used to new teachers and routines is part of school.
Equally home can set the tone in my experience, when home is flapping and quizzing the kids etc then they realise that home think there is an issue and so get wound up by it.
Let the teacher get started and don't be breathing down their neck looking for issues. Then if there are actual issues raise them constructively.

m0therofdragons Tue 10-Sep-19 14:06:29

@imaflutteringkite no not N. I'm assuming it's fairly common a situation which is why I thought there would be a plan to reassure parents/dc.

OP’s posts: |
m0therofdragons Tue 10-Sep-19 14:08:23

@LolaSmiles which teacher should I let settle? The one dd has last week, the one she had Friday, or the different one from yesterday and today? blush

OP’s posts: |
LolaSmiles Tue 10-Sep-19 14:11:53

The teacher off sick usually sends in lesson plan for the supply teacher
Not always. Sensible schools have cover work arranged internally so the person who is ill can get better.
(however this isn't the case presumably for long term so how would a supply use schemes of work to plan lessons other teachers planned over the summer?
Decent schemes of work and central planning is fairly standard and there is a PD day or two at the start of the year. When SLT realised they needed supply they probably thought of all of this.
I think that's unreasonable but maybe supply teachers are amazingly good
Teaching from central planning is the start of a training year task. It's not about being amazingly good. It's not unreasonable at all.
Equally, if I knew I was going into long term supply then I'd know the curriculum for the year group, would have got information from the school and be more than capable of planning a few lessons for the start of term.

You're looking for issues here I'm afraid. Your child knows who is teaching them. You know who is teaching them.

If this is so unimportant, why does school make such a big thing about dc meeting their teachers in the summer term?!
Maybe because it's nice to be able to do it, but equally the world isn't going to end if it doesn't happen.

LolaSmiles Tue 10-Sep-19 14:14:56

which teacher should I let settle? The one dd has last week, the one she had Friday, or the different one from yesterday and today?
So that sounds like day to day supply, not long term supply.

Quite different from starting the year with 'a supply teacher' which suggests long term supply.

In which case work is probably being set internally from central planning, which school are clearly happy with.

It's not ideal. If they've gone day to day supply then that suggests the school haven't got information from the absent teacher to make any decisions on employing new staff. It's not ideal.

I'm still not sure what exactly you're wanting school to do other than volunteer information to satisfy gossipy curiosity.

Yokohamajojo Tue 10-Sep-19 14:18:33

She has said numerous times that she doesn't know who is going to teach her DD, there have been different supply each week, of course that is not great!

m0therofdragons Tue 10-Sep-19 14:19:28

@LolaSmiles that's what I thought but she's been off since May and cover has been like this throughout. For a week or two that's fine (not ideal but teachers aren't robots) but after that I don't think it's consistent and provides the stability dc need. Dd is usually pretty resilient but unfortunately the timing which other changes at home have come together so this is just part of that. It's pretty unusual to see year 3 dc crying and clinging to parents (dd isn't doing that but is emotional at bedtime) so it seems she's not alone.

OP’s posts: |
m0therofdragons Tue 10-Sep-19 14:22:28

@Yokohamajojo thank you. I feel like I'm going slightly mad here.

I just assumed that it's fairly common a situation so others may be able to share how other schools manage it. It appears in mn world all schools are amazing and I should hand over dc, no questions asked and ignore dd being upset as she has no reason to be.

OP’s posts: |
PeopleMover Tue 10-Sep-19 14:27:02

I would ask the school if there are any plans for a long-term supply or any time frame on the teacher returning, because the current set up is upsetting your child.

That's not 'nosy' or unreasonable to ask. I wouldn't be happy with this for my child and I'm not surprised you are concerned!

DippyAvocado Tue 10-Sep-19 14:27:49

Supply teachers will be able to do their own planning, especially if they are in long-term. They are teachers, not randoms dragged in off the street. I have done long-term supply and did the same planning and assessments as the other staff.

LolaSmiles Tue 10-Sep-19 14:32:03

What is your solution then? Seriously. What do you propose?

School find a way to manage out that teacher so they can afford a permanent replacement?
School hire a long term person and find themselves overstaffed if the original teacher comes back? (Insurance won't cover this because the teacher sick notes won't justify that cover cost). Where does that money come from?
School write a letter to parents sharing whatever information will satisfy their curiosity and pave the way for more playground gossip?

It appears in mn world all schools are amazing and I should hand over dc, no questions asked and ignore dd being upset as she has no reason to be.
Stock claim when the response isn't "school is out of order". I spend a lot of time on here advocating raising issues and complaints when needed, but that is balanced with a reality check when needed.

The start of term takes time to settle. They're less than 10 days into term.
The school don't need to be telling you anything about how the situation, but I would imagine as soon as they've got something figured they'll get it sorted. Its not in their interest to have a revolving door of daily supply either so maybe instead of finding ways to be annoyed at school you stop an pause for a second and consider this: what school would voluntarily choose a less good option that costs more over having long term cover? Because someone in school is accountabke for that class (contrary to silly claims on this thread).

Now if you're worried pastorally about how your DC is settling then contact they key stage lead for a chat and ask them to keep an eye on her etc. That's reasonable. It's a separate issue to wanting information on school staffing.

Girasole02 Tue 10-Sep-19 14:32:36

It's supply and demand I'm afraid. There will only be a long term supply teacher in place if one is available. I only do day to day supply and turn away anything long term. Even if there is a long term supply in place, the regular teacher can return at any point. As for planning, it depends on the school. I have found it very hit and miss.

ButterflyOne1 Tue 10-Sep-19 14:36:21

I think you are being completely unreasonable. You have no idea what is wrong with that poor teacher. Surely it is your job as a parent to teach and inspire confidence in your children. Too much responsibility is put on teachers, start parenting properly!

Your DD is receiving an education from the supple teacher. They can't sack and replace this teacher on sick because your child isn't settling in.

LolaSmiles Tue 10-Sep-19 14:37:44

Good point Gira
It also will depend on the sick notes being issued.Someone running on fortnight sick notes will need a different approach to someone signed off for 2 months.

I was accountable for a class a few years ago where the teacher was off 2-3 weeks at a time, back for a day or two then off again and back just before each holiday. We couldn't get long term supply in. We got the best teachers we could get and ultimately my workload went through the roof keeping things running. It was also me dealing with the reasonable (and unreasonable) phonecalls.
I'm sure some people were sitting at home like OP listening to playground gossip and complaining nobody was sending letters home about who was planning the work though. The best complaint I took was that the class were doing far too easy work, different work to the whole year group and so on... And yet they were studying exactly the same as the other classes. It was a grudge because it was supply.

Dontfuckingsaycheese Tue 10-Sep-19 14:40:12

We had this in Year 3 and I must say we could practically write that year off. I love the teacher and so did he. But he was in briefly off for ages in for a bit then not. We were never kept informed or reassured of any continuity - my son has autism and he was completely upskittled by the constant inning and outing supply teachers etc. So imo YANBU.

LolaSmiles Tue 10-Sep-19 14:43:03

Dontfuckingsaycheese
That's awful. The SENDCO should really have kept you in the loop, possible class move if available, or at the very least there should have been a consistent TA to support in your situation.

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