Honesty did not save me

22nd June 2001 at 01:00
I was interested to read the article in The TES ((June 8) "Teachers 'borrowed' in inspection week". Perhaps it isn't so rare. I gained qualified teacher status last January and have been a supply teacher since then. After handing my CV to a local school for day-to-day supply, the school asked me to cover a reception class until the end of the year. The head hoped I would stay with the class to take them on through Year 1. There was to be a school inspection after the February half-term. I repeatedly said that I had no experience of teaching that age group and was unsure of what I was doing!

I was told that I would be given all the support I needed, would have a classroom assistant with me in the mornings and could meet with the key stage 1 co-ordinator to plan all the afternoons for the rest of the term. I was virtually begged to come and accepted on the understanding that they knew I had no training in that area. This, I was led to believe, would be no problem due to the team effort that would get me through it!

Things did not go well. Idiscovered that the KS1 co-ordinator had no more understanding of how to pan for reception class than I did and we managed to plan only about 10 days' work. My assistant's time was cut to one afternoon a week. Through this, most of the staff tried to help but clearly the support was not as much as I had been promised.

I was given leave to observe another reception-class teacher and a literacy specialist came in to observe me and give advice. Unsurprisingly, my teaching was not "up to scratch" and the adviser (as I understand it from the school) told the Cheshire LEA that there was an unsuitably-qualified teacher in a school about to undergo an Ofsted inspection. One Friday, about 4pm, I was told not to come back on Monday.

The head then "borrowed" a teacher from her husband's school who taught the class for four weeks while the inspection took place.

It was a bad management decision to take me on in the first place and I was naive to do it. I wonder what the normal procedure is when schools have not secured cover during an inspection for teachers on long-term sick leave. Surely not all schools borrow teachers!

Jane Walkington

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