According to a recent report by Estyn, Welsh schools are struggling significantly with managing teacher absence, with over 10% of all lessons being covered by supply teachers. Estyn inspects quality and standards in education and training in Wales and looks after Nurseries, Primaries and Secondary Schools.
The report found that the majority of the headteachers were aware of the Welsh Government’s ‘Effective Management of School Workforce Attendance’ guidance, but only a minority had actually read it and acted on it. In fact, only around 50% of headteachers have had training on managing staff attendance in the last 3 years, so many did not feel they knew how to effectively manage absence.
Most schools have some kind of manual system in place to track illness absence but did not keep data on other kinds of absence and very few said they had set targets to improve staff attendance.
Nearly all the schools assessed said they had experienced difficulty in arranging suitable cover for absent class teachers. Where work was left for supply teachers many felt it was not at the same level that the pupils would normally receive. When work wasn’t left, it would be planned without guidance by the supply teacher.
Gareth Evans, Director of Education Policy at the University of Wales Trinity St David, was concerned about the impact of staff absence on pupil learning and education standards across Wales.
“All the evidence suggests that pupils make less progress when there is a different classroom teacher in front of them… There is an inconsistency in learning – supply teachers don’t know the pupils and the youngsters’ individual needs. Another important factor is behaviour – pupils are less likely to respect and value the teacher in front of them if they know they’re not going to be there more than a day or so.”
Quote taken from interview with BBC Wales.
Estyn have recommended that the Welsh Government should provide schools and local authorities with guidance on monitoring, recording and evaluating the impact of staff absence including encouraging training and benchmarking.
SAM, our staff absence management system specifically developed for schools could help. SAM automatically flags when staff hit triggers, maintains historical data for benchmarking and enables staff performance to be effectively managed with a fair and consistent approach. SAM can help reduce the need for supply cover which in turn saves costs and improves education standards. Ask us for a free demo if you think SAM could help your school, or if you are an existing client, recommend a friend and get £50 off training. We can also provide training on managing both staff attendance and family leave. Call 01924 827869 to find out more.