Staff absences - how much of a concern?(11 Posts)
dd is in year 7 at a high performing grammar school. For the last two or three weeks there seems to have been hardly a day without a teacher absent - either because of a course or through illness. So then they do work from the book or a sheet with a supply teacher. I have to say it bothers me, but am I overreacting? Should I speak to the tutor/head of year/head teacher?
I have been really bothered by this too. Ds has had teachers off in core subjects ever since he's been at the school (now Y9). I have spoken to the school a few times about it, and it was also a factor in not sending other child to the same school. But it seems that absence 'happens' at the other school too ... . I don't really know what can be done about it. Would any secondary teachers out there know if it is a cause for concern or not really?
Just like the rest of the population teachers do suffer from illness! For example I was only in school for the 1st week as I had to have surgery and therefore was off school for a few weeks whilst I recuperated. I did think that I would only be off for a week
living in a dream world! and did have to continue to set 'book work' as I was not able to discover what they managed to cover/understand in the previous lesson.
You do need to remember that secondary means a lot more staff which means that there is more than likely maternity/paternity issues and as there are usually about 1000 students in the building, there are 1000 (plus staff) germ carriers!.
Staff have to attend GCSE/A level training (especially with the new specs being launched). Many staff have additional responsibilities e.g. head of year as well as subject teaching and these can cause extra days/hours having to undertake training/meetings etc.
However, is long term absence is known about then the school should be organising longer term cover which will mean that progress can continue with that member of staff for this period of time.
The odd day is nothing to worry about. Long term absence, I would want to know what was being done. IME, the most difficult to manage is frequent short term absences. Because you only know on the day, you cannot put into place alternative teaching, and cover work is of course inferior to teaching.
Loads of teachers are off ill, loads of kids are off ill. It's that time of year. Not a lot a school can do about that.
You have no say in when courses are held, so if you want staff to have training and improve their knowledge/skills/understanding then you have to deal with the fact that teachers will go off on courses. In primary schools lots of training is in house as everyone teaches everything, but subject specific training in secondary schools is generally not, only whole school things like behaviour/assessment tend to be done as a whole staff on training days.
In a secondary school there will be contact with a larger range of pupils, so you are more suspectible to picking up bugs, teachers on the whole do tend to struggle in and cope rather than take time off, so if someone has time off you really don't want them around your children.
Most large secondary schools will have a supply teacher in most days tbh. I would stop fretting about it as you can do nothing about it. If one member of staff is off sick long term then you might legitimately raise this with the head if the cover is inadequate but apart from this it is simply par for the course.
And don't forget school trips! Teachers have to go on them (and more happen in secondary) so their lessons will also have to be covered. To be honest, to you it sounds like lots of cover but if it is for individual teachers for one day at a time, this is not as disruptive as it sounds. It's the long term cover where you need to track the quality of the cover work you need to worry about. Oh, don't get hung up on the core subjects either. They tend to have four or five lessons a week anyway so one day doesn't hurt. If anything, the non-core subjects where they only have one lesson a week can be trying! Teachers will not be allowed to go on lots of training/ trips as the senior management only approve a one/maybe two, per year, per teacher. I don't think you have any cause for concern.
IMO supply teachers are not a problem. A lesson plan is left for the supply teacher, the lesson is delivered and the students learn.
I would be more concerned if my DC told me their subject teacher had no control over the class - they'd learn far less in that case.
If you are concerned have a word with the Head. We had a similar problem, teacher was doing a lot of courses and then had a bad run healthwise and was off a lot during the year. The Head reassured me and the teacher contacted me direct. She explained that everything was worked out weeks in advance with teachers on the same level and that if she was off her printed sheet for the day was emailed in and were possible the supply spoke to another teacher on the same level at the start of the day.
Teachers do have to go on courses to keep up to date with current teaching requirements and, like the rest of us can be off ill - I had 3 weeks off about two years ago - there was no way I could have worked. It might just be unfortunate this time off has happened close together, again the Head may be able to confirm.
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