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Send inspectors back to the chalkface, says union man

OVERSEAS teachers, returners, mature entrants, classroom assistants, even hi-tech holographic teachers. When it comes to possible sources of labour in a recruitment crisis, you would be tempted to think we had heard it all.

Apparently not. What about inspectors? Should they be forced back into the classroom to help plug staffing gaps? And while we're at it, why not abolish the inspection system, to give inspectors an extra reason to return?

One motion at the Professional Association of Teachers conference in Cardiff next week says: "Conference believes that OFSTED inspectors should be conscripted into schools to cover staff shortages and show us how to do the job instead of just telling us," and is proposed by Wesley Paxton, a member of the union's governing council.

The motion will also call for a "moratorium" on inspections, ideally with school visits once again being left to a small cadre of Her Majesty's Inspectors, who would concentrate on the worst performers. OFSTED is currently reviewing the inspection system.

Philip Withers, a former president and seconder of the motion, said:

"There's a staffing crisis out there. Schools have got to find new ways of tackling it. The inspection system needs to change, so why not combine the two?" Other motions include a call, from Croydon primary teacher Maya Chatterjee, "for teachers to act as good role models for children, especially in the light of recent TV dramas and docu-soaps".

This comes after controversy surrounding the drama Teachers and a teacher recently featuring naked on the reality show Big Brother.

Jean Gemmell, at her first conference as the union's general secretary, will call on teachers to fight for more autonomy in their working lives. She will say that, while the Government was guilty too often of telling schools what to do, heads and teachers had more freedoms than they realised. She said that it was up to heads to avoid passing needless directives on to teachers, and up to those in the classroom to avoid non-essential tasks.

Other speakers include schools minister Stephen Timms and shadow education secretary Theresa May.

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