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Send the clowns into primaries

Our primary school pupils are in danger of a very much-reduced quality of teaching if something is not done soon.

When David Blunkett introduced the workload agreement, back in March 2001, it was against a background of High Court actions. Workload was cited as the major reason for leaving the teaching profession - it was said that 30 per cent of teachers leave within the first five years. Recruitment was also an issue, as was the fact that over 30 per cent of a teacher's working week was spent on non-teaching activities.

We are in danger of the agreement being "swallowed up" by workforce reform.

The main reason for the introduction of reform in January 2003 was that we have an ageing workforce - It is said that nearly 50 per cent of teachers will reach the age of 60 over the next 15 years.

Now teachers do less of the photocopying and other things that made up the 24 tasks, conditions are improving. The cover limit of 38 hours may have some impact on headteachers (who are the biggest providers of cover in the primary sector apparently) but will probably not affect teachers all that much.

What will affect the primary schools is the preparation, planning and assessment (PPA) time to be introduced in September 2005. When this was suggested as a way of improving conditions of service for all teachers it was welcomed by all except the National Union Teachers. How far-sighted it was!

It now seems that PPA time is going to be given to all primary teachers, not by fellow teachers but by clowns and acrobats, musicians, sports coaches, higher level teaching assistants and Uncle Tom Cobleigh.

Notwithstanding the fact that in some parts of the country higher assistants' pay is above that of an newly-qualified teacher, where are we to find the sports coaches and musicians for 25,000 primary schools?

Richard Collins Headteacher, Whyteleafe school Whyteleafe Hill, Surrey

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