For support staff, observation of their performance in the classroom environment is an important part of performance management. However, excessive or unfocused observation can lead to increased anxiety and stress for the staff observed.
Who may be observed
Support staff with the following types of job definitions may be observed.
Higher level teaching assistant (HLTA) – “To complement the professional work of teachers by taking responsibility agreed learning activities under an agreed system of supervision. This may involve planning, preparing and delivering learning activities for individuals/groups or short term for whole classes…” (Level 4 Supporting and Delivering Learning Model Job Profile (Preamble).
Cover supervisor – “Cover supervision occurs when no active teaching is taking place and involves the supervision of pre-set learning activities in the absence of a teacher.” (Workforce Agreement Monitoring Group “Guidance for Schools on Cover Supervision”).
Teaching or learning support assistant (TA or LSA) – A typical TA/LSA job description will include some or all of the following responsibilities: working one-to-one or with small groups of pupils; supporting pupils with learning difficulties or disabilities; supporting pupils with English as a second language; preparing the classroom for lessons; tidying up and keeping the classroom in good order; creating displays of pupils’ work; helping on school outings or at school events.
It is not uncommon for schools to expect HLTAs, cover supervisors and TA/LSAs to take on duties that are inappropriate such as teaching whole classes or small groups on a permanent basis. Not only are such practices a breach of national agreements with the unions, but they are unfair on the staff involved, who are being used as teachers ‘on the cheap’. If this is happening at your school, please raise the matter with your NEU school rep or your NEU local branch secretary.