September 26, 2001
Reps: It is important that
you call meetings (joint meetings if possible) in your school
to discuss these guidelines.
The Executive Committee of the Association has discussed the document sent to schools by the Union entitled GUIDELINES FOR SCHOOLS - New Flexibilities On Cover
"Joint Guidance on Local Strategies to improve Recruitment and Retention following Suspension of 'Cover to Contract' Industrial Action"*
A commentary adopted by the teachers' organisations as guidelines for the operation within schools of the Agreement* reached with NEOST, 20 June 2001.
The Committee noted that the Association has clearly rejected the notion of "flexibility" on Cover at our General Meeting in July. We also noted that the document itself states:
"The discussions between the LEAs and the teachers' organisations locally will aim to further assist schools in recruiting and retaining staff. They will need to reflect existing arrangements and practices which will set the baseline for further developments. There will be no worsening of existing practices."
We noted that this statement contradicts the later statement in the Document that says:
It is acknowledged in the agreement that, "it may be necessary on occasions to consider requesting teachers to provide additional cover beyond that defined in the Pay and Conditions Document". Schools should always seek to use supply teachers to avoid the placing of additional burdens on existing staff. Further, any cover arrangements arising from such circumstances will need to be applied in ways which are fair and equitable to all the teachers in the school.
This statement, we felt, clearly does sanction the worsening of existing practices. Existing practices in Waltham Forest derive from the Collective Agreement the teaching unions have negotiated with Waltham Forest LEA.
The Committee decided to advise NUT members that the local Agreement should be maintained throughout all Waltham Forest schools. Moreover, the Association clearly rejected the notion of "banking" time and "Compensatory Time Off". Members feel this to be unworkable and open to abuse. The following Guidelines explain our local Agreement.
If you have further questions please contact the NUT Office
What is its Status and
Where can it be Found?
The Agreement's full title is the "Deployment of Teacher Time Agreement" and includes the issues of cover, class contact time and class size. It was reached in 1989 in order to end an industrial action whereby NUT members had been refusing to do any cover at all since 1983.
Every Rep should have a copy of the Agreement handy. The Agreement appears in the Green 'Schools Manual of Personnel Policies and Procedures.' It must be available in your school.
In order to prevent the Agreement being lost when Local Management of Schools was introduced the Council formally agreed to incorporate the Deployment of Teacher Time Agreement into individual teachers' Contracts of Service. The Agreement is still incorporated and forms part of all Waltham Forest teachers' contracts. It was inherited by all schools including Foundation schools.
Is it Still in Force?
It is the view of the Union that schools that are not providing the level of cover stipulated in the Agreement are in breach of it. The Association would seek a ballot for industrial action in such schools if the situation cannot be rectified through negotiation. We have balloted schools and taken industrial action on a number of occasions to defend the Agreement.
Its Relationship to Cover
in the Pay and Conditions Document
The Agreement does not replace the legal aspects of Cover but adds to them. It lengthens slightly the Exceptions (when teachers should not be asked to cover).
Non Sickness Absence
Teachers should not be asked to cover for:
Trade union time
Teachers on training funded by the Standards Fund
Magistrates Service and service on other public bodies
The Agreement states that a temporary replacement should be sought if an absence lasts longer than 20 days. This does not mean that cover should be provided in school; the 3-day rule still applies.
v You should not be asked
to cover after the third day of an absence.
v You should not be asked to cover at all if the absence was known two or more days in advance.
Note: The Agreement assumes a 40 period week (8 per day) in secondary schools - you will have to convert that into your own school's day.
The Agreement sets a norm about how much supply cover the Authority will provide in the school's Budget. This is what one expects in normal circumstances it is not an upper limit or a reason to impose extra burdens on teachers.
There should be:
v Two Permanent Supply teachers or equivalent funding plus a sum for casual supply in every secondary school.
v A supply teacher or equivalent funding in every primary sector school.
Note: Supply teachers being used to cover a vacancy cease to count against the supply budget for the time the vacancy is covered.
How much Cover can you
be asked to do?
The Agreement sets NORMS about how much cover individuals can be asked to do and it is closely related to the amount of timetabled non-contact time they have.
You can be timetabled to cover if your class contact time, or contact time + administration time, totals less than 75% of the week.
ÿ The Norm for non-contact time is 0.2 (or 8 periods in a 40 period week).
ÿ The maximum contact time for any individual is 0.85 or 34 / 40 periods. Any teacher on this figure should not be asked to cover.
ÿ Teachers should not be asked to cover more than 3 periods in any week or asked to cover so that their total contact time in that week including cover exceeds 0.85 or 34/40 periods.
ÿ For teachers in their first year the maximum contact time, including any cover should not exceed 0.75 or 30 periods in a week.
ÿ You can be asked to cover during time that has been released by exams.
Who should do the Cover?
The agreement makes it clear that, 'the order of call will operate inversely to contact time. Cover will count towards contact time over an accounting period.' In other words, the lighter the timetable, the more likely it is you will be called. We consider half a term to be a reasonable accounting period.
Teachers in their first year who have 75% contact time should not be called for cover if someone else is available.
The aim of the agreement is to reduce the burden of cover, not justify teachers having to cover.
The Agreement reiterates the Authority's commitment to provide non-contact time for all primary teachers. The reality is that school governors frequently trade class size with non-contact time.
It is the Association's
view that if this is done by consultation and agreement this is
fine, but you should not allow classes to exceed 30.
The Agreement states:
v The Cover burden should be equitably distributed among all the staff including the Head.
v Splitting classes. The Agreement says quite clearly, 'splitting classes is not educationally desirable and should be a matter of last resort.'
v An individual teacher should not be expected to teach split classes as method of providing cover more than 9 times in a full academic year regardless of the fact that it is the first, second or third day of an absence.
It is inevitable that the question of Cover in primary schools is often tied up with the issue of class size. Class size is the subject of a separate Association advice.
However, in terms of Agreement,
the recommended numbers are:
1: 25 in Reception,
1: 24 for mixed age groups and
1: 28 otherwise.
The Agreement also states, 'the largest group to be regarded as a norm would be 30 and 25 in reception and every reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that class size does not exceed this figure.'
The Agreement stresses the need for consultation with staff on these matters.
What NUT Reps and Members Should Do
1. The Budget
Necessity for School Based Negotiation
When the Agreement was made schools did not have budgets the onus was on the LEA to provide the resources. All money for cover is now delegated. The delegated budget provides for short term and long term absence cover, as well as maternity leave. Governing Bodies have to decide how much of their delegated budget should be allocated for cover.
You are entitled to see the budget and to be consulted on how much is to be put into the supply budget. Remember some cover will not be paid for by the school's delegated budget but from devolved money from the Standards Fund. You and your members must be satisfied that enough money has been set aside to provide for the appropriate level of cover called for by the Agreement. If members feel that the cover is excessive or unfairly allocated or the school is not prepared to discuss with you please seek further advice from the Office.
2. Do we have to Monitor
the Cover Ourselves?
The Agreement clearly provides that the management will publish at regular intervals the amount of cover done by every member of staff. Access to records must always be available.
Many schools may like to interpret the word 'Normal' as a get out clause - but we should not allow this. The opposite of normal is exceptional. If exceptional levels of cover are provided too often they become the "norm".
3. Maternity Leave. A common secondary school management
ploy is to put the permanent supply on the long-term cover while
other staff cover the ordinary absences. This is not acceptable
unless a further supply teacher is brought in to do the work normally
done by the permanent supply teacher. We would expect a fixed
term appointment to cover such vacancies.
4. Trade Union Officers - Union Officers (of whatever recognised Union) should be timetabled out. You should not cover for them.
5. Union Representatives Entitlement to time off for training and to carry out duties is a separate agreement and should be budgeted for. Supply cover should be brought in for such time off.
6. Health & Safety Training - Refusal to allow time for H&S training can be referred to the Industrial Tribunal. The money for this is delegated and the school management should be reminded of this.
If Reps have any inquires please contact the NUT Office.