Wales: Primary schools ‘should manage teacher absences better’

Primary schools 'should manage teacher absences better'

CREDIT: This story was first seen on BBC News

Too many primary schools in Wales are failing to manage the effects of teachers being absent from work, education watchdog Estyn has said.

BBC News reports that only a minority of heads use Welsh government guidance to help improve the management of teacher attendance.

In its report, Estyn says nearly all primary schools have experienced difficulties arranging suitable cover for absent class teachers.

It found Welsh medium schools in particular have staff-cover problems.

Estyn’s chief inspector Meilyr Rowlands said schools need to monitor and track teacher absence in order to raise awareness about the potential impact on learners.

Schools should also monitor the work of supply teachers to ensure pupils make progress.

“Primary schools need to make sure that they evaluate the impact of teacher absence,” said Mr Rowlands.

“Monitoring and tracking the reasons for teacher absence can help to raise awareness of the potential impact of absence on learners.

“They should also monitor the work of supply teachers regularly to ensure that pupils make appropriate progress.”

Inspectors found in the majority of schools, supply teachers use the school’s documents to plan lessons, but when this information is not available, supply teachers focus on keeping children busy, rather than plan lessons that build on pupils’ knowledge and skills.

Guidance was issued by the Welsh government in July 2015 but although most head teachers were aware of it, Estyn found but only a minority have read and acted on the document’s recommendations.

Back in 2013, an increasing use of supply teachers to cover sickness absence was affecting pupils’ learning, according to reports by Estyn and the Wales Audit Office.

They found nearly 10% of lessons were being covered by supply teachers. On average, each teacher in Wales was absent for seven days a year in Wales, compared to 4.5 days in England.