Rarely Cover

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2009 Local Government Service Group Conference
4 June 2009

This Conference notes with regret the latest advice from UNISON issued on 2 May 2009, around the issue of “Rarely Cover” in classrooms. This advice has been sent direct to schools and is already being used by headteachers to undermine existing pay and conditions of service. This Conference notes that in Kirklees the local WAMG has written back to DCSF complaining that the advice is ill-informed, weak and divisive. The document potentially allows schools to select support staff from any background to provide cover for absent teachers without the appropriate support or pay. This Conference also notes that support staff are already being exploited in their existing roles where schools will routinely: timetable staff to cover; deploy them into areas where they don’t have expertise; fail to provide adequate notice or teaching plans; coerce staff into covering lessons such as P.E. or Science.

The guidance recommends implementation of the scheme “school by school”. Whilst it recommends headteachers should consult with staff and unions, there is no requirement for them to do so. School by school implementation will exacerbate the abuse of support staff in this role.

Conference therefore accepts that the advice as it stands is inadequate and must be renegotiated along the following lines:

1)Cover Supervision will only take place when very clear guidelines are in place

2)Guidelines must be adopted by local WAMGs for implementation in schools

3)Schools should adhere to the guidelines and abuse immediately referred to the WAMG for resolution

4)Appropriate and consistent rates of pay apply across the board to cover supervisors and HLTAs