There are a number of differences between a school and sixth form college that you will notice.
The key difference is the difficulty and amount of work that is required both in and out of the classroom. Students will need to take control of their own learning and are expected to complete at least 4.5 hours of independent study in addition to their lessons for each of their subjects. The teacher/ staff will guide them, but may not necessarily set homework.
This in turn changes the way that short staff absence is managed; we do not 'cover' lessons. This is usual practice for a sixth form college and different to the experience of school. There are a number of reasons for this. Namely, cover teachers with the level of skill and expertise required are not readily available and having a 'non-expert' has proven to be an ineffective use of the student's time. We compensate for this in a number of ways. Firstly, we deliver an above average amount of teaching in terms of time, 10% more than other providers. Our term dates are also longer than the majority of schools and colleges. However most importantly we expect that our students are able to take responsibility and use any staff absences to work independently.
When members of teaching and support staff are unavoidably absent, this is what a student can expect:
If a teacher is unexpectedly absent for a short period of time:
- An SMS and email from the college notifying them that their teacher will not be present. We will notify students at the earliest possible opportunity.
- An email detailing the work to be completed during the lesson time. This work will have been set by the teacher and is designed to enable the students to work independently on a task pertinent to their current work.
- Students may be expected to attend the class to use certain resources and complete tasks, however this is not always the case. Students will be advised either way.
- It is important all students utilise the time and take responsibility for completing the work set as part of their on-going study programme.
A teacher’s absence is prolonged
The College will arrange for appropriately qualified and experienced cover for all lessons. It should be appreciated that this process takes time, during the interim the actions detailed above will be in place.
Whilst very rare, in a circumstance that a high number of lessons have been affected for the same subject over a period of time/number of occurrences.
The Head of Teaching, Learning and Assessment, Director of Faculty and course team continuously monitor impact of absence on student progress and learning. If it is felt that the student group have been adversely affected by teacher absence, then arrangements are made to create additional sessions and revision days at a key time of the year.
Evidence suggests that on the rare occasions in which the College has utilised this strategy, the impact on learning and outcomes is a positive one and students achieve in line with expectations.