Helpline

10th March 1995 at 00:00
Q One of my staff has offered to give her examination class additional teaching outside normal school hours. Can the governors agree to this and should they pay her for doing it?

A A teacher who takes up work outside contractual duties and hours may do so voluntarily or under a separate contract. Many teachers engage in evening class work on this basis, and are paid at whatever are the agreed rates for such service. Whether the students get this service free or pay fees is also a matter for agreement.

I should, however, advise caution before you decide to accept this proposition or recommend it to your governors. Consider the message which is being conveyed to parents. The implication is that there is insufficient teaching time on the timetable, so that the students will only obtain good grades if they enrol for this extra provision. What does that say about the school? Is that really the message you wish parents to receive?

Alternatively, is this teacher saying that she is such a poor manager of her teaching programme that she cannot cover all the work in time which is adequate for everyone else?

What about her colleagues? Are they going to be worried that the pressure and extra time which this teacher is imposing on the students will have an adverse effect on their performance in their subjects?

And last, what about the students? They may feel under pressure to take on this extra commitment, but is this a burden they ought to have to bear?

I know many parents seek additional coaching or evening classes for their children in subjects where they are weak; sometimes teachers will recommend this - or provide it privately. These are matters of personal judgment. I am not at all sure that a school would be wise to become involved officially.

Q When a pupil has to be taken to hospital by ambulance, does the school have to send a teacher with him?

A It is a well-established concept that a school acts in loco parentis and, in situations like this, should do exactly what a responsible parent would do.

In practical terms this means that, having made an immediate attempt to contact the parents to find out whether they can take responsibility themselves; the school remains responsible until they do.

In almost every case, this will mean ensuring that the pupil is accompanied by a responsible adult - not necessarily a teacher - either until the parents arrive to take over, or until that adult is satisfied that the pupil is in safe care at the hospital.

But it might not, for instance, be thought necessary to send any one other than a reliable fellow-student with a mature sixth-former with a relatively minor injury.

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