A parent's take on McCrone

he SPTC's survey on cuts in class contact time reveals a mixed bag of findings. It comes as no surprise that there is higher awareness among parents of primary-age children since the reductions in class contact time in primary schools over the past two years. In secondary, where pupils move from one subject teacher to another, there is no reason for pupils or parents to know whether any particular teacher is contracted to work 12 hours per week in front of a class or 22.5 hours.

Headteachers, we note, feel it is the job of local authorities to pass on to parents any bad tidings. Given that councils are seldom in a hurry to impart bad news, it comes as no surprise that parents feel ill-informed and dependent on their children for information.

The comments from primary respondents make disturbing reading. Most parents should welcome input from a specialist teacher, and it is now not uncommon for primary teachers to job share. It is, however, a concern if supply teachers covering "McCrone time" are not putting the time to good use. It is particularly concerning that a minority of respondents say that classroom assistants are taking classes in the absence of teachers - and astonishing that the parents reporting this practice are not disturbed by it.

Heads have been reporting for some time that they are being used to cover "McCrone time", either in individual classrooms or assemblies, and that this misuse of their time is having an impact on school leadership.

The teachers' agreement set out to provide local flexibility - but that cuts both ways. It is increasingly clear that schools are finding different ways to cover "McCrone time", with varying degrees of success. Later this year, HMIE will report on the educational impact of the teachers'

agreement. We await with interest its take on the parent perspective.

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