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No teacher turning up to class. Is that normal?

(53 Posts)
LadySeaThing Tue 15-Sep-20 13:15:31

My teenage DS told me recently he had a class at school where no teacher turned up - and it's not the first time either. DD remarked that a friend told her the same thing happens to her big brother, and they all have an unwritten rule that if there's no teacher by half way through, they just leave.

These are 15yos coming up to exams. It's a state high school (Scotland) that prides itself on its great ratings and being a renowned school. But that's pretty shit surely? Just not having teachers to teach and not even bothering to say so/explain but just leaving the class to sit there?

I think I should raise it with the school but just wanted to check if this is familiar to other MNers. Is this a widespread result of teacher shortages and just what happens sometimes, or is it unacceptable?

Apologies if I don't come back to the thread immediately as I'll be busy/out but will come back later!

OP’s posts: |
RedskyAtnight Tue 15-Sep-20 13:29:52

Not at my DC's school. If a teacher is absent the students are contacted in advance via their school email to let them know, and they spend the lesson doing work set by the teacher, in the independent study area, supervised by a "general" member of staff. (Disclaimer - not sure if they are still doing this with Covid guidelines, but I suspect they are at least doing a modified version)

CremeEggThief Tue 15-Sep-20 13:30:44

It used to happen a lot at my secondary school, but that was in the 90s!

SavoyCabbage Tue 15-Sep-20 13:31:34

No, it's not normal.

SqidgeBum Tue 15-Sep-20 13:33:20

It happened all thr time in my school, but that was in the 2000s, in ireland.

I am a teacher here in the uk now and thay just wouldnt happen in my school. If a teacher is absent cover is ALWAYS organised by the cover supervisor. Sometimes sixth form lessons are cancelled with no cover and the students are notified, but never year 11 or below.

CatToddlerUprising Tue 15-Sep-20 13:33:59

Not normal but it can happen if there’s a mix up with cover. Someone in the class should have gone to reception to let them know.

BeingATwatItsABingThing Tue 15-Sep-20 13:38:55

I had this happen once during secondary school (between 2005 and 2010). No one turned up to teach our Maths lesson and we just sat there for the hour. We got in trouble the next lesson for not telling the office that no one turned up but, now I think about it, it should have been whoever organised cover who got into shit, not us.

bookmum08 Tue 15-Sep-20 13:39:28

Do none of the kids bother to pop to the classroom next door or to reception to let someone's know. The teacher could be fainted in the loo or locked in the photocopying room. I could understand 11 year olds panicking a bit and not knowing what to do but these are big (older so should have a bit of common sense) kids.

Rudolphian Tue 15-Sep-20 13:40:52

I remember this rule.
If no one turned up within 15 minutes we could leave, but this was at university.

Badbadbunny Tue 15-Sep-20 13:41:53

Yep, common in my experience. I remember it happening decades ago and my son who has just left secondary said it happened to them quite a bit too. Apparently for single lessons, they just sat and chatted, but someone would go to the staffroom if a teacher didn't turn up for a double.

BlusteryShowers Tue 15-Sep-20 13:46:42

It used to happen quite often when I was at school in the 90s/00s but not where I work now.

When I was a pupil, we just entered empty classrooms and waited for the teacher to arrive. They tended not to have their own classrooms so moved around too and were often a few minutes after us. A class with a modicum of sense would simply "look busy" for an hour. Anyone walking past would never realise that there was no teacher and we got an hour's skive.

Where I teach, classes line up outside classrooms and are not permitted to enter without staff, so it becomes quite clear if a teacher (generally cover) hasn't arrived or is running late and it's usually sorted within a few minutes.

LindaEllen Tue 15-Sep-20 13:51:56

It happened to me once during my high school life, back in 2004, and we just messed about for the hour. Towards the end another teacher heard the noise coming from the room and decided to investigate, and we got a huge telling off for not coming to get a teacher - so no, I don't think it's normal, though perhaps it could happen on occasion if a member of staff is taken ill during the day, or the cover teacher fails to turn in for some reason.

If it is a regular occurrence I would set up a meeting to raise your concerns. It's not too bad if it's a college or university where students are more capable of self-directing, but not in a high school with a full classroom.

Invisimamma Tue 15-Sep-20 13:54:16

This used to happen when I was at high school in the early 00s.

It could be timetabling error, or a teacher absence where nobody has realised the class isn't covered. Or room booking failure and teacher is waiting for their class somewhere else in the building.

GravityFalls Tue 15-Sep-20 13:54:51

Should never happen at a secondary school - I have known it rarely to occur but only as the result of an emergency/huge communication mix-up and certainly not as an everyday thing.

Even in the college where I teach, although lessons usually aren’t covered, we would email work to the class and expect them to get on with it, and a other member of the department would pop in and make sure they had something to do. Again, the very last resort would be them leaving or doing nothing.

bathorshower Tue 15-Sep-20 13:59:45

It happened once when I was at school - we were supposed to inform the office if the teacher didn't arrive in the first 5 minutes; let's just say that didn't happen. It eventually turned out the teacher had simply forgotten (we were on a two week timetable, so perhaps had got the week wrong) - his office was a long way from the classroom. As a one off, I'd let it go, if it's happening regularly, I'd contact the school.

Witchend Tue 15-Sep-20 14:31:29

The only time it happened when I was at school we kept very quiet hoping no one would notice and send a teacher.
When we were caught, we were in trouble for not sending someone to the office.

TheSeedsOfADream Tue 15-Sep-20 14:34:37

It could happen but ours can't leave ever, unless they are 18 (so in final year) and the school has a signed permission from parents that in "unforseen circumstances" they can go off premises early. A teacher not turning up not even for last lesson of the day wouldn't cover that.

bunnyonthemantle Tue 15-Sep-20 14:38:16

It'll be a cover issue. Either the teacher hasn't reported the absence properly or whoever handles the cover has ballsed it up. You should ring the school as it's a massive safeguarding problem.

maddy68 Tue 15-Sep-20 14:45:12

No its an urban myth.

MarisPiper92 Tue 15-Sep-20 14:55:04

This happened a few times when I was at school (00s). Our unwritten rule was to wait fifteen minutes, and then we'd either bugger off (allowed off premises from Year 10) or 'look busy' as a pp said.

It came up in conversation recently and it was the first time I realised how awful it was!

RunningFromInsanity Tue 15-Sep-20 15:30:11

Happened in my school.
And no one is going to go to reception and tell, then they’d have to do work!!

LadySeaThing Tue 15-Sep-20 15:57:51

Thanks everyone! It happened to me once or twice at school, but that was in the 80s. It seems really wrong - surely they know if a teacher is off? Or if teachers are in but just not bothering to go to their classes, that's even worse. Also it's annoying me that it's not a one-off but a regular thing.

I will raise it with them - I haven't ever made a fuss about anything before but I'm not impressed!

OP’s posts: |
spiderlight Tue 15-Sep-20 16:38:24

No, never. It used to happen during one particular course on my degree, but that was because the lecturer was about 400 years old, and if he hadn't turned up after about ten minutes someone from the front row would just quietly go and get him. (God, we loved him). Never heard of it happening at school though - if the teacher's off, they get a supply.

GravityFalls Tue 15-Sep-20 17:28:50

I literally cannot imagine a scenario where a teacher can’t be bothered to go to a lesson! I’ve been in lots of schools and met lots of teachers and it’s just...not a thing.

MrsHamlet Tue 15-Sep-20 18:37:51

When the register isn't done within 10 minutes, someone should notice!
Very occasionally it happens at my school - usually in the vomit term when there's been a road accident and staff are stuck. If the cover manager doesn't know who is missing, it could be that no one is scheduled - but senior team will be checking on those days especially.

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