The impact of teacher absence - September 2013


This report examines ‘the impact on learner progress of schools' strategies to cover the absence of teachers and the effective and efficient employment, training and deployment of supply teachers’. The report includes case studies that highlight common approaches to the management of teacher absence. This report has been written in collaboration with the Wales Audit Office. The Wales Audit Office report produced is about the efficiency and value for money of human resource arrangements to reduce and cover teacher absence at school and local authority level. This Estyn report focuses on the impact of teacher absence on learners and on classroom provision and on how schools manage the impact of teacher absence.
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Schools should:

  • manage teacher absence more efficiently;
  • improve the quality of teaching and learning in covered lessons by making sure that the work set is at an appropriate level and staff receive enough information on the individual needs of learners;
  • support supply and cover staff to improve their classroom behaviour management techniques;
  • evaluate the impact of teacher absence on learners, especially more able pupils and those in key stage 3, and monitor the quality of teaching and learning when teachers are absent;
  • ensure that supply staff are included in performance management arrangements;
  • provide more professional development opportunities for supply staff; and
  • make sure that supply staff receive essential information on health and safety and safeguarding, including the contact details of the named child-protection officer at the school.

Local authorities and regional consortia should:

  • provide schools with comparative data on teacher absence rates; and
  • seek feedback on and record the quality of supply staff they register and use the information for quality control.

The Welsh Government should:

  • provide better access for supply staff to those national training programmes that are available to permanently-employed teachers.