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Maternity leave pay problems

WhilE having no cause to object to the general details in the article about holiday pay for those covering maternity leave ("Summer cover leaves bitter taste," TES, July 13), I feel it necessary to comment on specific aspects, since the school is named and your reporter chose not to seek comment from either myself or from the governing body.

Mary Cockerill, the teacher at the heart of your report, is, as you rightly explain, employed at South Parade junior school on a maternity-leave contract.

The teacher on maternity leave - an extremely conscientious and hard-working member of staff - informed all the necessary authorities (and in turn the covering teacher) many weeks in advance of her "deadline" that she wished to return to her post shortly before the summer break.

I must stress that she is perfectly within her rights to return at this time and is acting in a similar way to thousands of other teachers.

Although Mrs Cockerill feels "fleeced" (by losing holiday pay), the article fails to inform your readers that the governing body has acknowledged her work with a generous ex-gratia payment to partly compensate for her not being paid during the holidays.

For obvious financial reasons, the school cannot afford to pay two experienced teachers for the same job over the whole holiday period.

Brian Sprakes Headteacher South Parade junior school South Parade Grimsby North East Lincolnshire

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