Funding is just a start

In the staffroom at Elsecar Holy Trinity primary, teachers discuss how they will use extra classroom assistants promised by the Government.

"They could do the photocopying, free teachers from mundane jobs and let them concentrate on teaching," says Dave Pannett, head of the Barnsley primary.

But Angela Smith, who teaches Years 3 and 4, suggests assistants alone will not solve teachers' problems.

"It's the workload at home - the planning and marking - that's driving teachers away. Primary schools need to have non-contact time."

Mrs Smith backs the school's plan to use the extra pound;10,000 it will get next year to help fund a "floating teacher", with no classroom responsibility, who could provide occasional relief for class teachers.

But Mr Pannett says funding alone will not solve his problems: the last advert he placed for a teacher attracted just six applicants.

He also fears extra funding will be ringfenced for specific purposes, stopping him using it where it is needed most. He is sceptical, for example, of plans to invest in truancy sweeps. "The majority of unauthorised absence is with parental consent. It's a much broader issue than just schools."

Similarly, he believes that creating federations of schools, overseen by a "superhead", will merely be a waste of resources: primary heads, he says, like to exchange ideas on good practice anyway.

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