Recently, I conducted a twitter (sorry, ‘X’) poll on my personal Moxi account, asking people if they actually knew what a Cover Supervisor was!

I was prompted to ask this, on the face of it, seemingly fatuous question, following a recent focus group I had hosted one with my colleagues, EdStart Schools’ Executive Headteacher Kevin Buchanan, where the school leaders in attendance were bemoaning the lack of adequately trained Cover Supervisors, equipped with the necessary skills and experience to make a tangible difference in their classrooms.

My poll discovered that over 60% of respondents were not actually aware of the role a Cover Supervisor performs in a school, with a more in-depth company polling project – stretching across Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn – revealing a near half-and-half split between those familiar with the work of Cover Supervisors and those, more or less, totally oblivious to the significant benefits cover supervision brings to both mainstream and alternative provisions.

So, what is a Cover Supervisor?

Cover supervisors are suitably trained members of staff who preside over pupils – and oversee their studies – whenever regular teaching staff are away from the classroom due to unavoidable circumstances, such as illness, course attendance or annual leave. The principal job of a Cover Supervisor is to manage the classroom – in a teacher’s absence – ensuring that everyone stays on task with the work they have been set, and that the needs of the relevant curriculum continue to be met.

What’s involved?

Cover supervision varies significantly, depending on whether the role is undertaken in a primary/ secondary school, or SEN/ alternative provision. Existing staff who are asked to perform cover supervisory roles should first be given the option of taking it on as a role in itself, or as part of another related role. The role of a Cover Supervisor should not usually require any active teaching, marking or planning.

Day-to-day tasks also include managing the behaviour of pupils whilst they are working in class, and maintaining a positive and productive learning environment; which, in the case of SEN and alternative provision settings, can present significant challenges. Particularly, if pupils have SEMH (Social, Emotional and Mental Health) issues that adversely affect their in-class behaviour.

Other routine duties for a cover supervisor include responding to questions from pupils regarding school processes and procedures, dealing swiftly and effectively with any immediate problems or emergencies and collecting completed work following a lesson, before returning it to an appropriate colleague for marking.

Usually, it also involves reporting back, as required, using the school’s agreed referral procedures on the behaviour of pupils during the class, as well as relaying specific details of any issues that may have arisen.

What are the requisite skills and experience?

Obviously, the ability to communicate well and interact clearly and positively with colleagues and pupils alike is an essential skill for a cover supervisor, as is a genuine rapport with young people of all backgrounds and abilities. Including those with special educational needs, students with autistic spectrum disorders and those with other neurodiverse conditions such as ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia.

Of course, a Cover Supervisor role is, by its very nature, perennially subject to change. So, a genuine ability to be flexible and adaptable in your approach to work is also crucial. In terms of experiences and qualifications, it is very much up to the individual schools and Local Authorities to set their own preferred entry requirements. Some may employ people purely on the basis of their previous experience and achievements, whilst others will seek to unearth new talent and hire on potential alone. With that being said, if you are being asked to cover an entire class, then you should be qualified to at least Level 3, with the clear expectation to be remunerated as such.

What are we hearing?

Some of the feedback we’ve received recently from our clients really highlights the challenges school leaders and heads face in this vital area. To paraphrase, many of the education professionals we speak to are all saying the same thing: ‘we struggle to recruit and retain cover supervisors. It’s seen as temporary, impermanent work, and not as a viable, long-term career.

How can we help?

Moxi Recruitment is made by educators for educators. Our team have worked in schools as teachers, headteachers and in executive and leadership roles. This gives us the experience, knowledge and capacity to devise and implement bespoke training programmes tailored to specific roles, such as Cover Supervisor.

Working in a school in this vital role is, in actual fact, the perfect way to ‘try out’ the role of a teacher, before committing to teacher training. What’s more, we can offer fully tailored support to schools with regard to drafting and executing career development plans, as well as opening clear routes to career progression for their existing workforce, in order for them to carry on retaining staff.

It’s all part of the Moxi difference. Discover it for yourself. Call me today on 0300 303 4414, email or visit our ‘Contact’ page and send us a message. We will always try and support you in the best way we possibly can. Whether that be through new career opportunities, training or CPD!