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'Associates' bend more than words

An article on the use of cover assistants in last month's issue of Secondary Teachers, the Department for Education and Skills magazine, was wholly unacceptable. The report described the deployment of six cover assistants in Piggott school, an 11-18 language college in Wargrave, near Reading.

It said that the school had decided to "bend the terminology" and give them the title of "associate teacher". The intention was to give the assistants "more credibility with the kids" but this must surely be of suspect legality, contravening the regulations and principles of the General Teaching Council for England.

Such actions are short-sighted and hypocritical. The education of pupils in these schools is being compromised and parents sold short. Moreover, such actions will ultimately devalue and de-professionalise the qualified teaching workforce, including heads. One wonders whether the assistant head quoted in the article would bend the "terminology" further by allowing employees with the title "associate head" to cover for his absence?

I hope that both the National Union of Teachers and the GTC will carry out a thorough, open, honest and unbiased investigation into this matter.

Philip L J Barton 64 Whipton Lane Exeter, Devon

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