Free periods hijacked by cover

8th April 2005 at 01:00
Q: Does anyone know if schools are allowed to continually ask me to do cover during my free periods? I have not seen anyone else teach and keep getting told that certain stuff I do is wrong - when I thought it was what I had to do... but I can't observe alternative styles as I keep getting covers!

A: Schools vary in the amount of cover they ask newer teachers to do. In some, they're used only as a last resort. In others, their goodwill and enthusiasm are shamelessly exploited. Unfortunately, nobody can refuse to cover. The law is in Teachers' Pay and Conditions. You're expected to do what the head asks and that includes covering for colleagues, for the first three days of their absence. Newly qualified teachers aren't exempt from this, though many schools try not to use them at least in the first term.

Don't let cover eat into your 10 per cent reduced timetable for induction.

If you earmark free periods for this and arrange to be doing professional development, they're less likely to get taken away. Or be bold, and write on the cover slip: "I thought I was on a 90 per cent protected timetable.

However, if there is an emergency, let me know." That's assertive!

Sara Bubb

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today