Notes from a small island school

The experience of reduced class contact time has been, and will continue to be, very different for class teachers and school managers. But there are some people in Scottish education who can tell the story from both viewpoints.

Margaret Henderson is a teaching head at Easdale Primary, a two-teacher school on the small island of Seil in Argyll and Bute.

"We found the organising and timetabling of non class contact time, which we're providing mainly through expressive arts specialists, very tricky at first.

"It is great for the kids, though, having different teachers for different parts of the curriculum, and they probably adjust to the change from 'my class' more quickly than the teachers do, or the parents.

"Of course, the visiting specialists also have to get their non class contact time: 15 minutes if they do two-and-a-half hours. At the moment I provide that out of my weekly management time."

Despite the headaches it can bring for school management, reduced class contact time is an overall benefit, says Mrs Henderson. "It's giving teachers time to reflect on what they do; specialist teachers bring a new dimension to the curriculum; and there is an even greater focus on teaching and learning.

"Despite the problems it can bring for headteachers, I'm convinced reduced class contact time is good for schools and pupils."

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