A day in the life of Parneet Lidhar

In London this cover supervisor feels valued by the pupils at her Sikh school, where faith is integral to education. And she loves the unpredictability of a timetable that spans all ages and subjects

My day starts at 5.30am when I wake up and get ready. Then I rouse my children and help them prepare for school.

My son attends the school where I work, so we make the short journey together, alongside other pupils who merrily wish me a good morning. As we walk, my son and I discuss the advantages of leaving the car at home - by avoiding the queue of traffic we manage to arrive on time.

Guru Nanak Sikh Academy is based in the borough of Hillingdon in West London. It's a faith school that was established in 1999 as a voluntary-aided institution. In November 2010 it became an academy. Two years later, it merged with the local primary to become an all-through academy catering for four- to 18-year-olds. It is heavily oversubscribed, with a large waiting list across all year groups.

My job title is cover supervisor and my role is to provide cover wherever a teacher is absent. I hear a lot of horror stories about the hell teachers endure at other secondaries, which makes me feel proud and privileged that I work at a good school and am able to do my job without any major behavioural problems.

At 7.45am I'm given a timetable of the lessons I am expected to cover that day - I call it my "lucky bag". It all depends on the number of absent teachers and whether any staff members are on school trips or attending courses.

It may be maths with Year 7 (aged 11-12), geography with Year 11 or Sikh studies with Year 9. No two days are the same and it is the thrill of the unknown timetable that makes every day so fulfilling. Walking through the corridors and hearing pupils ask "Are you covering us today, Miss?", then hearing their groans when I say "No, not today", makes my job so worthwhile and makes me feel especially valued.

As the academy is a faith school, an integral part of the education we provide involves a daily visit to the gurdwara, the Sikh place of worship. Prayers are recited in the morning and the Hukamnama (similar to a command) is taken from the Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh book of scriptures).

With seven 45-minute lessons in a day, a 20-minute break in the morning and one hour for lunch, home time at 3.15pm comes quickly. I pop over to the primary part of the school, collect my son and walk home, where I enjoy the rest of the evening in the garden.

I use the time to catch up on the growing pile of studying I have to do for my teaching degree, which I have recently started on my journey towards becoming a qualified teacher. But it's not easy: as well as trying to study, I also have to prepare dinner and make sure the children's homework is complete before I get them ready for bed.

Once that's done, it's time to catch up on EastEnders before putting myself to bed, too.

Your day

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