A model way to remodel
"It is absolutely fantastic," said the head of Year 4 at Moor Lane junior, Chessington, Surrey. "It frees you up to actually have a life when previously it was just school, school, school."
Moor Lane is an almost perfect example of what the signatories to the school workforce deal had in mind when they agreed to reduce teachers'
workload in January 2003. Not only has the school introduced PPA time 10 months ahead of schedule, but it has done so using the kind of creative, innovative strategy they have been recommending.
Unlike many primaries there has been no insistence that pupils should be taught by qualified teachers at all times.
Every year group spends one afternoon a week on curriculum enrichment. A mix of teaching assistants, sports and arts tutors and qualified tutors run these activities. The pupils are divided into groups of around 10 to learn everything from golf to cookery, snooker, fashion design or paper-making, which is taken by Barbara Reseigh, the headteacher.
While each year group is doing this, their teachers get together to plan and prepare next week's work and discuss progress and assessment. All teachers also enjoy about an hour a week of separate non-contact time brought in about three years ago.
Tony Rogers, a Year 5 teacher, estimates he still works 55 hours a week, but feels much less pressured. "It's much easier now," he said. "I feel less overworked and we get through things much quicker, it is brilliant."
Ms Reseigh has introduced PPA time through careful planning and a flexible approach to budgeting, that would please the Government's remodelling advisers.
She has knocked an estimated pound;51,950 off the cost of PPA time by redeploying existing staff. But she still spent an extra pound;23,500 on PPA changes, or 2.3 per cent of this year's budget, well above the extra 1 per cent promised to primaries to introduce remodelling, and Ms Reseigh fears she will be unable to afford to continue it in future.
And, despite her success with remodelling, as a National Association of Head Teachers' member she backed withdrawal from the agreement to draw attention to funding problems. "I don't believe it is being financially supported properly," she said.