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Have you noticed?

PARENTS collecting children from our school don't ask their children: "What did you do today?" The question now is: "Who was your teacher?"

We are employing an unprecedented number of supply staff. We need them to cover booster classes and non-contact time for our newly-qualified teacher and her mentor.

Training for literacy and numeracy co-ordinators and information and communications technology also

take their toll of teachers, and we are told to give our deputy head non-contact time with some of the extra money recently granted to small schools.

These factors apply to every primary in the county and demand far exceeds the supply eachers available. We try to build up relationships with people we like and trust, prepared to do odd hours scattered through the week with different classes, but it's not easy.

Add a flu epidemic and we are in deep trouble. We grasp at whatever the supply agency can offer but sometimes what is left at the bottom of the barrel is very thin scrapings indeed.

Government ministers have bombarded us with initiatives and Standards Fund money to pay for them, but they have not thought through the staffing implications. We need aid from the colonies, but convict ships rarely reach the land-locked Midland counties.

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