Teacher workload is at the forefront of the education sector still, with the news still filled with unhappy teachers, worn-out heads and the effect on our children’s education as a whole, being regularly revisited in reports. But in this hugely vital education sector, we know that teachers are the unsung heroes, the soldiers on the front line.

They juggle tasks like lesson planning, classroom management, assessments, and student well-being—all while trying to maintain their own sanity. But what happens when the relentless demands of teaching start to take a toll on their mental and physical health?

Enter PPA (Planning, Preparation, and Assessment) Cover, a crucial lifeline that can alleviate the burden and safeguard teacher well-being, if used correctly. We have a look at why using PPA Cover in primary schools is an effective solution to reduce some of that.

What Is PPA Cover?

PPA time is the oasis in a teacher’s busy schedule. It’s the precious window when educators step away from the classroom, leaving behind the hustle and bustle of the classroom (all being well!) During PPA time, teachers can focus on essential tasks such as lesson planning, curriculum development, and student assessment—away from the watchful eyes of their students. Other teachers, perhaps another member of staff, or an external provider like LCF FunLanguages‘ teachers will take care of the class and usually fill in the particular part of the curriculum they are best placed to cover.

The Importance of PPA Cover

Stressed teacher with kids running riot

1. Reducing Stress and Burnout

Teaching is a high-stakes profession with big rewards coming from success. The pressure to meet academic standards, engage students, and manage behaviour can be overwhelming. PPA Cover provides teachers with dedicated moments to recharge, reflect, and recalibrate. It’s the antidote to burnout, allowing educators to catch their breath and regain perspective. Some schools offer a flexible approach to their teachers, even enabling them to go home during this time and completely get away from the potential of being called upon.

2. Quality Lesson Planning

Effective teaching hinges on well-crafted lesson plans. PPA time allows teachers to delve deep into curriculum design, explore innovative teaching methods, and differentiate and customise lessons to their pupils’ needs. When teachers have the time and space to create thoughtful, engaging lessons, everyone benefits—the pupil, the teacher, and the overall learning environment. Meanwhile, having cover in place also allows specialist teaching to shine – whether that’s the deputy’s English degree coming in to use, a dance teacher coming in to provide lessons or French or Spanish teachers visiting the class to add fluency to engaging lessons.

3. Individualised Student Support

PPA Cover isn’t just time to fill in your paperwork; it’s about personalised attention, like all teaching tasks. Teachers can use this time to analyse pupil progress, identify struggling learners, and devise targeted interventions. Whether it’s adapting materials for a student with special educational needs or providing extra challenges for high achievers, PPA time ensures that no child falls through the cracks.

4. Teacher Collaboration and Professional Development

PPA time isn’t meant to be solitary confinement; it’s an opportunity for collaboration. Teachers can meet with colleagues, share best practices, and attend professional development sessions, if the timetable allows. These interactions foster a sense of community, boost morale, and enhance teaching skills. After all, teaching is a team sport, and PPA Cover strengthens the team. Teachers tag out and the cover staff tag in!

Challenges and Solutions

1. Guaranteeing PPA Time

While the National Education Union (NEU) advocates for a minimum of 10% PPA time, some teachers receive less than this. On their website, the NEU supports PPA time of 20%. Workplace representatives play a crucial role in ensuring that PPA time is guaranteed, timetabled, and respected. Let’s make sure every teacher gets the breathing space they deserve.

2. The Pandemic Factor

COVID-19 disrupted education worldwide, and teachers bore the brunt. As schools adapted to remote learning, PPA time faced new challenges. Now, more than ever, we must advocate for increased PPA time during these uncertain times. The 10% benchmark should be a floor, not a ceiling.

3. Stress Levels Continue to Rise

According to this article from the NEU website, in a survey conducted ahead of their annual conference, around half teachers in the union said that their workload was unmanageable. Schools must use the tools at their disposal to counteract this in all the ways possible.

Languages during PPA Cover

With teacher workload being high on many schools’ priorities, it makes sense to use the time to teach subjects that those teachers have little or no knowledge about, and this often brings languages forward as the perfect subject to be covered during PPA time.

While there are a number of effective schemes of work for non-specialist teachers to teach a language, it’s evident in our experience that use of a specialist teacher who is fluent in the language and has an interest in the subject, is going to be far more effective in engaging children than a teacher who is stressed due to having to teach something they are uncomfortable with or perhaps intimidated by.

PPA cover doesn’t need to be expensive either – there is always a way to make it work within your budget and provide your staff with the right cover that allows them to concentrate on their tasks instead of their class. With LCF FunLanguages, our partner teachers provide lessons from Reception to KS2, with schemes to cover the different key stages.

If you’re a school leader, you can find out more and enquire about our availability on our PPA Languages Cover page.

Join the movement. Support PPA Cover. Support our teachers. 🍎📚