'I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date'

14th May 2010 at 01:00
Staff at a Glasgow primary, stranded abroad by volcanic ash at the start of term, make up lost time at a Mad Hatter's tea party with a difference

When four teachers at one Glasgow primary were stranded abroad because of the recent volcanic ash cloud, it meant a stressful start to the summer term.

Now, however, the school is set to benefit from an after-school club for reluctant readers as the staff make up the time they missed.

The headteacher of St Blane's Primary, Michelle Stewart, was stranded in Spain when the volcano in Iceland grounded flights across Europe last month; acting depute Tracy Heaney was stuck in Portugal with her three children, all under the age of seven; the acting principal teacher, Catherine Quinn, was also stuck in Portugal; and P2 teacher Sarah Langton was stranded in Ireland.

All four staffers missed the first five days following the Easter break. To pay the time back, they are setting up a club for reluctant readers in P4-6, to be held one afternoon a week throughout May and June and into next session.

Ms Heaney said: "We recently carried out a survey of the children's reading habits. From the questionnaire, we identified those who had answered `no' to `Do you like reading?' and `Do you think you are good at reading?' From that we created a list of names and they have been invited to join the club."

Yesterday, the group of 19 went to the cinema to see the film Alice in Wonderland in 3D. Next week, the children's book by Lewis Carroll will become the focus of the after-school club. "We'll have a Mad Hatter's tea party with copies of the book there and we'll do some work around that," said Ms Heaney. "Then we'll branch out and start working on other books. We're excited about it."

At the beginning of the new school year in August, club membership might be refreshed. And now that the children know about the treats in store if they answer "no" to those two questions, she believes membership could rocket.

A survey conducted by The TESS revealed that 3,421 teachers were stranded abroad following the Easter break. A number of authorities told teachers they would lose pay for the days they were absent, but Glasgow won plaudits from staff after telling them they could make up the time in other ways.

Maureen McKenna, education director of Glasgow City Council, said: "This is a great example of teachers paying back lost time and the children will benefit from the additional literacy classes. We expect similar initiatives to spring up across the city, following the flight disruptions."

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