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Supply agency is well below par

Supply teaching has been described in many ways, but it is surely a first to compare it to "joining a golf club".

This startling description was given to the Diary as it investigated the complaint of Buckinghamshire teacher Robert Smith, after he was refused supply work by the Exeter-based Go-Teaching agency.

The saga started with an unusual clause in the contract advising supply staff "not to communicate with the press, television or radio regarding your duties, Go-Teaching or the school's business" and to refer all approaches from the media to Go-Teaching.

Mr Smith was understandably upset by this breach of his "right of free speech" and crossed out the offending clause, before signing. But Go-Teaching, which runs most of Buckinghamshire's supply work, would not register him without it.

Go-Teaching's communications manager Andrew Wimshurst assured us there was no intention to restrict free speech. The clause was merely friendly advice to stop Mr Smith getting into trouble with the nasty media. But by crossing out this advisory part of the contract, he "technically" could not be registered. It was, said Mr Wimshurst, like joining a golf club but not signing up to all its rules.

When informed by the Diary of Mr Smith's predicament, Buckinghamshire education officials were dismayed. They have now demanded that he be put on Go's register and that the offending clause be withdrawn or rewritten. A hole in one for the Diary, we think.

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