What is a Cover Supervisor? And tips on managing the classroom

A Cover Supervisor is a suitably trained school staff who supervises pupils carrying out pre-prepared lessons when teaching staff are on short-term absence. The Cover Supervisor’s main job is to manage a classroom, ensuring that students remain on task with the work they have been set.

Why are Secondary Schools looking for cover supervisors?

School budgets and teacher shortages are the main reason why schools are looking for cover supervisors on a short-term supply basis. Schools value specialist teachers but with the current skills shortage a suitably trained cover supervisor who enjoys being with young people who can hold the class attention, manage behaviour are sought after individuals. 

What is involved?

Cover Supervision varies significantly depending on the school, 4myschools are usually asked to find Cover Supervisors for mainstream secondary schools. The role should not require any active teaching, marking, or planning and is a step up from a teaching assistant role as you will have responsibility for the whole class.

Primary and SEN(D) schools generally require Teaching Assistants and Learning Support Assistants to work with individual children rather than whole class supervision. HLTA’s are sometimes required to cover the class however they are experienced and have higher level qualifications.

 Cover Supervisor duties may include:

During the Covid-19 pandemic some of the normal recommendations below may have to be adapted according to each school’s social distancing policies and procedures 

  • Supervising work that has been set in accordance with the school policy.
  • Managing the behaviour of pupils while they are undertaking this work to ensure a constructive environment.
  • Responding to any questions from pupils about process and procedures
  • Dealing with any immediate problems or emergencies according to the school’s policies and procedures
  • Collecting any completed work after the lesson and returning it to the appropriate teacher
  • Reporting back as appropriate using the school’s agreed referral procedures on the behaviour of pupils during the class, and any issues arising

This may sound like a straightforward role, but it can be challenging particularly for those with little classroom experience. Being a Cover Supervisor will give you an insight into what schools are really like, the challenges faced by teachers and staff daily, the type of character it takes to work with young people and whether this is something you want to commit to.

4myschools have successfully placed inexperienced candidates firstly as volunteers and then into paid Cover Supervisor work. The length of voluntary work depends on the school and your experience with children. Some candidates have progressed into full time employment within schools and some into teacher training programmes.

How to become a Cover Supervisor?

4myschools have placed many Cover Supervisors and know what schools look for.  The main quality is always good behaviour management. Being organised, punctual, prepared for any situation and having a presence in the classroom are all vital. This combined with at least 3 months UK classroom experience, or experience working with children will put you in good stead for a Cover Supervisor role.

The aim is to cover the classes with as little fuss and hassle as possible. You are there to support the school and children in your care.

7 Tips on managing a classroom for cover supervisors.

  1. Begin with the end in mind 

When you accept your assignment think clearly and calmly about what it is you want to achieve, remind yourself of this regularly and focus on the positive outcome. Use the following skills and techniques to have a successful day in the classroom.

  1. Plan ahead

Upon arrival, ask for a welcome or introduction pack (if they have one from the school Cover Manager). This should include: 

  • Lesson timings
  • Map of the school
  • Uniform expectations
  • Behaviour policy
  • Health and safety policies including their COVID-19 procedure
  • Who to call if you need assistance?
  1. Be patient

Wait until everyone is seated at the beginning of the lesson and are silent before you give instructions. This establishes you are in control as the students enter the classroom and helps set the tone for the rest of the lesson.

If a seating plan has been left, make sure you ask the students to sit in this order. If not, ask them to sit in their usual places. Leaving one seat free at the front can be useful for a disruptive individual.

  1. Set expectations

Ask pupils to recap what they did in the previous lesson to get them engaged and ensure you follow the work set.

Write instructions clearly on the whiteboard and read out any relevant information to the pupils, ask if they are all clear on what has been set.

  1. Focus on what you want

Focus on what you want to achieve rather than what you do not want. Remind students of the teachers’ and school expectations and that you want to help them succeed.

  1. Keep up the momentum

Make sure you are walking around the class – not only will this help keep pupils on task and working but will also ensure they can ask you a question if needed and know that you are there to help and engaged so that they complete work set.

  1. Stay calm and softly spoken

Enjoy your time with the pupils, you will be surprised how much you can learn from them about their school. Smile and be approachable.

Use humour, care and above all engage with the students who will soon realise you care about their success.

Stressful situations lead to behaviours all of us tend to regret so above all avoid stress and remain calm. 

Covering a class registration

If you are covering a class registration, use this time to gain insight from the students about their school. For example, what are their favourite lessons, or how does the canteen work? You can also encourage them to catch up with the work set, above all keep them busy.

Thinking about becoming a cover supervisor? If you would like more information on how to get started please click here.