How many heads are now plugging staffing gaps?

21st September 2001 at 01:00
I am surprised your journalists have only found one head who was teaching full-time last term ("Head cracks under strain of two jobs", TES, September 7).

I had to take over a Year 6 class after the February half-term as the teacher left and the supply teacher could not cope with them or prepare them for their national tests.

After running booster classes in the half-term break, I found it difficult to get out of the classroom. Even when I had "non-contact time", it was spent dealing with problems with supply teachers in the Year 6 class. My health, my family and my school suffered. Colleagues in school were wonderfully understanding and we all rallied to each other's aid but it is no way to run a large primary school.

I suspect that the statistics for vacancies are too low - the last thing I had time for in the past academic year was filling in questionnaires about teacher shortages.

I have started the new term fully staffed, although two members are from South Africa on long-term supply contracts and two are newly-qualified teachers. The latter were the only applicants, which saved me the job of shortlisting.

I am determined that I will not put myself through the experience of doing two jobs again, even though it is hard not to put the children first.

None the less, being a class teacher reminded me of what I went into teaching for, what my core business really is, and how unnecessary so many of the administrative and bureaucratic jobs really are.

The fact that we managed a slight increase in our English test scores and a big jump in our science scores was amazing and gave me some hope.

Mrs M G Ayres Headteacher Rangefield primary school Glenbow Road Downham, Bromley, Kent

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