How to be a Successful Cover Supervisor


What is the role of a cover supervisor & what do they do?

When short-term absences impact full-time teaching staff, schools will turn to cover supervisors to limit any potential disruption to pupils’ learning.

But what does the role entail, and could it be a non-teaching opportunity often overlooked by those considering a career in the education sector?

Understanding the role

Cover supervisors step in when teachers are away – due to sickness or training, for example – and ensure pupils behave and complete pre-prepared work.

It should not require any active teaching, as it should guide pupils through the lesson and provide instructions and direction as necessary for the work set.

Understanding a school’s behaviour policy – and behaviour management more generally – is also important, as it will be a key element of maintaining order and control in the classroom.

A cover supervisor will also require knowledge of other school policies around equal opportunities, health and safety, and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Regarding qualifications, schools will often look for applicants with an honours degree and experience working with children; that said, completing a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) may suffice.

The role is especially popular amongst graduates who can use the experience to understand how schools work and whether they want to pursue a PGCE. 

What’s in a typical cover supervisor job description?

If you’re questioning whether a cover supervisor role could be right for you, it helps to know what’s involved.

Most job descriptions will include the same key elements, with the major difference between each role depending on whether it is in a primary, secondary or special school setting.

For instance, working with pupils of different ages and abilities will provide varying challenges and require different approaches.

The main duties of a cover supervisor involve overseeing the completion of work and managing pupil behaviour while tasks are being done.

They’ll also need to respond to any questions from pupils if they are unsure how to complete the tasks set.

Should any problems or emergencies occur, a cover supervisor will also be expected to act following the school’s policies to resolve those issues.

Any work must be collected at the end of the lesson and returned to the main teacher, alongside feedback on behaviour and issues that arose.

What doesn’t the cover supervisor role involve?

Cover supervision is a non-teaching role, and this is reflected in the job requirements.

It should not involve lesson planning, marking or setting homework, and there should not be an expectation that an individual has the same level of subject knowledge as the regular teacher.

Cover supervision provides a valuable opportunity for those keen to work in a classroom setting but do not want the pressures of full-time teaching. 

Salary for a Cover Supervisor in the UK

A cover supervisor in the UK plays a pivotal role in schools, primarily overseeing a classroom in the absence of the teacher. 

Their main duty is to manage a classroom, ensuring that students remain on task with the work they have been set. 

Unlike qualified teachers, cover supervisors are not expected to teach, plan or mark students' work. 

Given the nature and responsibilities of the job, there is a specific salary range that most cover supervisors can expect.

Salary Range:

As of my last update in 2021, a cover supervisor in the UK can expect an average starting salary of approximately £18,000 to £22,000 per annum, depending on location, qualifications, and experience. 

With more experience and in areas with a higher cost of living, like London, salaries can reach up to £28,000 or even slightly more.

Factors Influencing Salary:

  1. Location: As mentioned, working in areas with a higher cost of living, especially in inner London, can come with a higher salary.
  2. Experience: While starting salaries can be lower, gaining experience can lead to incremental pay increases.
  3. School Funding: The school's financial position can also play a role in determining salaries.
  4. Additional Responsibilities: If a cover supervisor takes on additional tasks or responsibilities, there might be scope for a higher wage.
  5. Contract: Whether employed directly by the school, through a local authority, or via a recruitment agency can also influence one's salary. Temporary or part-time roles offer a daily or hourly rate instead of an annual salary.

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