Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Advice on extracurricular cover


Looking ahead to the September 2009 regulations which permit teachers to cover only rarely, we are gravely concerned that our excellent programme of extracurricular activities will be seriously curtailed. What does ASCL advise?

ASCL fully appreciates the concerns about the effect of 'rarely cover' on extracurricular activities, which are extremely valuable in developing students in the fullest sense. While it is unlikely that the impact can be nullified altogether, the following strategies might be helpful in mitigating the effect.

When planning the school calendar, heads could arrange for the timetable to be re-organised on the days/weeks on which such activities are scheduled. In this way, teachers who are not involved in trips, for example, are not covering for the absence of their colleagues, but teaching groups of their own. In order to make such an arrangement more attractive, schools might consider re-assigning teachers' PPA time on these days/weeks to other days so that it is not 'lost'.

Whilst teachers' PPA time must appear on their timetable and is sacrosanct, it does not have to be at the same time every week. If teachers know at the beginning of the school year that in some weeks their PPA time will be scheduled differently, they are still able to plan ahead and to carry out PPA-type activities.

Alternatively, heads could ensure that the normal level of cover supervision was sufficient to permit such trips going ahead without the need for teachers to cover. Or, as these activities are usually scheduled well in advance, additional support staff time could be bought in specifically for these purposes.

Though the last two strategies might incur additional costs, they could be harmonised with the normal systems used by the school to implement the objective of 'rarely cover'.

Finally, schools could consider the extent to which support staff may be able to take the place of teachers on school visits.

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