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From 1st September 2009 teachers planned and unplanned absences of teachers—including
absence due to sickness, from 1st September 2009.
will have a contractual right to ‘only
rarely’ cover. What do you think this Cover and HLTAs
No HLTA should be actively teaching other than under the
means? supervision of a teacher. Cover supervisors should not be
Cabinet doing any active teaching. Where you are aware that
The NUT’s view is that, from teaching assistants are being requested to go beyond the
Reshuffle: that date, teachers should only
be asked to undertake cover in
proper limits of their role, you should inform your NUT
school rep or Division Secretary. The excuse that funding
It’s still exceptional circumstances.
Make sure that your school is
is an issue so supply teachers cannot be engaged is
incorrect as budgetary constraints cannot remove this
preparing to meet its contractual obligation. Schools have known about this for
Balls! obligations. All foreseen
circumstances need to be
four or five years so have had plenty of time to make
planned for in advance. Split classes
From 1st September 2009 you should only rarely be asked
Current situation to take pupils from a class that has been split when the
[until the end of this term] circumstances are unforeseen.
Current recommended cover
levels are not more than 3.5 Protecting your right to ‘only rarely’ cover
hours per year in primary and We are concerned that some schools may be seeking to
not more than 11 hours per introduce a revised fixed cover limit from 1st September
2009. There can be no fixed cover limit.
year in secondary. If this limit
is being breached in your Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union
school, contact your NUT of Teachers, said:
school rep. “The Union will strongly resist the retention of a fixed
hours limit. Any new limit, however low, would quickly
School Cover Strategy be seen as a justified cover level within schools. The
The Union’s view is that head National Union will oppose any changes to the current
teachers should establish a provisions which might weaken your contractual right to
cover strategy to deal with ‘only rarely’ cover from September 2009.”

Your ‘Rarely Cover’ Questions answered on page 3...

THE NUT: “We work up to a standard not down to a price”
Independent of Government and not affiliated to any political party

The next general meeting for all NUT members will be
held on Wednesday 1st July at The China House
Sutton Road Plymouth. Main agenda items include

‘Rarely Cover’ and SATS in 2010

Free buffet from 1700
Meeting begins 1720 for about an hour
Other points include Trusts and Academies in Plymouth,
Tolpuddle 2009 and nominations for DGS and other
national officers [a full agenda may be obtained from]

Come along to the meeting so we

can answer your queries!

Sell-by date expired! SCHOOL
NUT Diaries are FOR EVERY
being despatched
to school reps— CHILD
make sure you
check your mail and if yours doesn’t turn up by mid-July, ask your school
office and tell NUT HQ that your essential NUT mail isn’t getting through!
Your ‘Rarely Cover’ and is unaffected by budgetary create a local policy that breaks
considerations. If we look at the the contractual obligation.
Questions Answered contractual obligation on But what can we do if that’s the
What does rarely cover really invigilation then it can be quickly school policy?
mean? Straightforwardly, it means understood that teachers cannot After informing the HT, and we
that teachers cannot be asked to be asked to break what is part of suggest you do this collectively,
cover for an absent colleague if the their contract, and if they should be contact the Division Secretary. A
circumstance was foreseen. asked they must refuse as they are number of options are open to
My school handed out copies of obliged to adhere to that obligation. NUT members in schools where
the WAMG Guidance [written by If I want to carry on doing cover, there is non-compliance. This in-
the social partners]. Does this who will stop me? cludes asking the LA to direct
“official” guidance carry more Your HT will be responsible in schools to comply, and if every-
weight than the NUT’s ensuring that you comply with the thing else fails, balloting for strike
guidance? new rarely cover regulations. action.
No. There is no “official” guidance. In my school the HT said SMT Is it OK for HLTAs, cover super-
The WAMG and NUT guides on would do the cover. Is this OK? visors and TAs acting as cover
‘rarely cover’ have equal weight so No. Senior managers have the supervisors to take classes for
there is every reason to look at the same obligation not to cover and the time a teacher is absent?
NUT’s advice on the rarely cover only teachers who have cover as a No. There are precise restrictions
arrangements to see how this specified element written into their on what these non-teachers can
affords greater protection to contracts will be allowed to cover do. The aim is to ensure that
teachers—particularly on leave of as a matter of course. children receive teaching from a
absence policies, your CPD In my primary school we share qualified teacher at the earliest
entitlement, educational trips and children amongst our opportunity. The NUT suggests
attempts to re-timetable. colleagues if someone is away. that in a secondary school a cover
What about teachers Does this count as cover? supervisor or HLTA should only be
unexpectedly away because Indeed it does and if this were to allowed to cover for up to 3 days
they’re ill? happen for a whole day then you before a supply teacher is
Historically, schools know that would be covering for 5 hours or engaged; in a primary, no longer
teachers are absent due to illness so. Clearly this doesn’t meet the than the first day of absence.
and there will be a pattern of ‘rarely cover’ obligation. Your Why is this being rushed in?
absence that can be analysed. school must plan alternatives for Schools have known about this
Schools are expected to plan for this. change for four or five years—
this foreseen absence and make What does the term “no plenty of time to plan ahead to
plans accordingly. detriment” mean? meet the contractual obligation.
Can my PPA periods be used for Here is an example. If you had 3 If there is severe snow, or a
cover? PPA periods on this year’s major road is closed and large
No, unless there is an unforeseen timetable and an additional period numbers of staff are
emergency. If lost, your PPA that you could sometimes lose for unexpectedly missing, can staff
periods, as now, would have to be cover, from September you will still be used to double-up classes
paid back because they’re have the 3 timetabled PPA periods and have their PPA taken away?
guaranteed. shown on your timetable* but the When these situations arise
Can I be asked to cover on the schools should already have in
school cannot remove the non-
first day a teacher is absent? place a risk assessment that
contact period; it has to stay to
No. The school must have a covers this contingency. Doubling-
meet the no detriment clause.
strategy in place to cover such up classes is not a reliable solution
What can we do if we think the
occurrences from September 1st. and in most cases schools will
school policy doesn’t fulfil the
Only in unexpected and close.
contractual obligation to only
unforeseen circumstances [and Any more questions? Email
‘rarely cover?’
then only after exhausting all other to Plymouth NUT—see P4
The plan in your school has to be
possible alternatives] can teachers
discussed with staff and union
be used for cover.
I’ve heard that some schools are
representatives. You can be *All PPA periods have to be
assured that the NUT, NASUWT shown on your timetable. If your
telling staff they will have to
and the ATL will work together to school refuses to do this,
cover because there is a
ensure that you do not suffer from contact the Division Secretary.
problem with the school budget.
either a poor consultation process This isn't an option—it’s another
Can this be used to force
or any attempt to impose a cover contractual obligation in the
teachers to carry on covering?
limit. Schools are not allowed to STP&CD.
No. This is a contractual obligation
Plymouth people against academies and trust schools

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hear Tony Benn’s inspirational speech—not to be

missed! Meet at the NUT marquee

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