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The role and responsiblities of supply teachers - some worries about ds' education

9 replies

saadia · 25/01/2008 13:54

Ds' teacher has unfortunately been ill since the Christmas holidays and he has a supply teacher. He is in Yr1. His original teacher was very warm, friendly and motherly and he adored her and she seemed to like him too.

The new teacher seems stricter, which might be a good thing, and seems rather aloof. The school has said she will stay to ensure continuity for the children, There is a parents' evening this week but not for ds' class.

I understand that the teacher has not really known the children long enough to give full information but I am a bit worried about the situation for several reasons.

a] When someone chooses to be a supply teacher it may be because they don't want the responsibility of tracking the progress of students and writing reports etc. They may not be that interested in long-term progress.

b] As a supply teacher, do you have to take he jobs available? Whereas a full-time teacher makes the decision themselves about which year group they want to teach.

c] Is it harder to recruit new teachers in the middle of the school year?

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Blandmum · 25/01/2008 13:59

There is an essential difference between lonf term and short term supply.

When a teacher takes up a long term supply job (often matertnity leaeve or long term illness) they carry out all the normal assessments, reports etc that the usual teacher would do. Enlightened self interest would dictate that they should do this well, since schools will regularly call on supply teachers that they know to be a 'safe pair of hands'/ Falling down on the job wil mean that the school will look elsewhere next time they need cover.

You don't 'have' to take a job, but obviously if you don't work you don't get paid.

Depends on the subject and the area of the UK.

Mercy · 25/01/2008 14:05

I have a couple of friends who are teachers and as far as I know they don't have a free choice in which year group they teach. They are either qualified/specialise in a particular year group (eg, Foundation) and/or particular subject.

smartiejake · 25/01/2008 14:35

Problem with supply teachers is that they are only paid from 8.30 until about 3.30. (at least that's the case where I work.Also they are not paid for their lunch hours. I would imagine that is they are employed for a few weeks they would be entitled to PPA time. I would not expect a supply teacher to attend parents evenings and not actually sure what they could tell you about their progress after only 3 weeks anyway.

Most supply teachers work for agencies these days. The agency contacts the teacher with any work available but they don't have to take it.

RosaLuxOnTheBrightSideOfLife · 25/01/2008 15:08

At our school long-term supply teachers who are responsible for planning etc are paid for longer hours than a short term supply to take marking and prep time into account - they also get PPA if they are covering a class long term.
The supply's we use come back time and again and would not be used if they failed to live up to the school's standards of teaching.
As far as free choice goes, teachers do not have totally free choice about which year group they teach anyway - the ultimate decision about that is normally made by the head.

saadia · 25/01/2008 16:31

Thanks everyone for your input. Clearly not an ideal situation and just bad luck for ds' class I guess. I'm not really sure though how things will progress this year. The other worry is that they are desperate for parent-helpers but have a policy of not putting volunteers in the class that their own child is in so I can't offer help there, couldn't offer much anyway as ds2 only goes to nursery for the morning session.

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Mercy · 25/01/2008 16:44

I can understand your concern, saadia. dd has an newly qualified teacher this year so every fortnight she has to go fro training etc. Which of course is fine - but the class has a different supply teacher pretty much every time.

bobbynog · 25/01/2008 16:52

I was once a supply teacher, and yes you do get to choose which jobs you take, as some teachers are more suited to different year groups. When i was on long term supply i got paid a whole £5 a day extra for taking on the responsibility of assessment and planning, and therefore had to do parents evening - i would not do it agin, you are lucky that you have had the same teacher as it is good for consistency, and things will get easier for your child and the teacher as they get to know each other. It is not an ideal situation, but most teachers i know would put up a real fight before being written off on the sick! Just try to support your ds as much as possible from home - the school will be keeping an eye on what the supply teacher is doing - are there other year 1 classes?

ScienceTeacher · 25/01/2008 17:08

People may become supply teachers because they don't want the responsibility or committment. They may do it because they have not yet been successful in getting a permanent job, or are perhaps returning to the profession and getting a variety of experience. There are 'good' reasons for doing supply, as well as 'bad' ones.

A supply teacher does not have to take any given job. Repeatedly turning down jobs may make the offers dry up though. It's a delicate balance, sometimes.

Yes, it's harder to recruit teachers mid year, but not impossible. If your teacher is off temporarily, then they won't be looking for someone to fill the job permanently.

saadia · 25/01/2008 18:56

bobbynog there are two other classes in the year.

ScienceTeacher, we were told that his original teacher has a serious health problem, poor thing (and she is very young) and is unlikely to return. So I hope the school is looking at recruiting someone permanent as they say the current supply teacher will stay "for as long as necessary".

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