Staffing as all schools and businesses know is difficult to get right some of the time let alone all of the time. Most secondary schools’ highest cost is staff and within that teacher’s salaries. It’s the same in most businesses, typically people are the greatest expense in providing the service.

When teachers are unavailable to teach e.g. when attending CPD or paternity/maternity leave the school is normally short of staff, unless they are “carrying” excess teaching staff able to take over for the absence.

Often the school will attempt to cover the absence internally and are able to do this for a few days but with the “rarely cover” rules requesting other teachers to cover in addition to their normal work load is not very appealing.

Some schools have made investments in employing a number of Cover Supervisors to fill gaps. Cover Supervisors have to be treated equally as with any other employee on the schools books. Whilst not qualified teachers they are asked to step in to manage the students when their normal teacher is absent. For a school with many Cover Supervisors they will be called on many times during the term and as with any member of staff they will be hard pushed to keep up with the demands on their time.

It is often the case that the Cover Supervisors when under pressure will find it equally demanding to maintain the expected work rates and as unqualified teachers they may find it particular difficult on the behaviour management front.

Most students know if they are being taught by a teacher a cover supervisor or a supply teacher. If persistently seeing Cover Supervisor a resentment can begin to brew which may manifest in poor behaviour after a time. This puts the Cover Supervisor under more pressure and sometimes creates further absence from the very people brought on to fill gaps.

Clearly there is a cost issue when at June, July when the exams commence this typically means the school can cover short term absence as there are plenty of teachers available.

It is our understanding that some schools are now reversing out of the Cover Supervisor direct employment option as it simply costs too much and tends to be a false economy over the year.