Insisting on qualified cover

3rd June 2005 at 01:00
Chris Woodward is under no illusions about what would happen if she were unable to give her teachers 10 per cent non-contact time in September - they would take action to force her to.

"I have some young staff who are very aware of their rights," said the head of Kings Sutton primary, Oxfordshire. "Newly-qualified teachers have been trained in college to expect non-contact time. If I wasn't providing it, I would expect them to ask for it."

In the event they will not have to. Teachers at Kings Sutton are already benefiting from 5 per cent PPA time. All pupils have a weekly hour-long session in the library, with a specialist ICT teacher and librarian freeing up their teachers.

From September that time will double to 10 per cent, mainly through the use of qualified teachers, something Mrs Woodward regards as very important. "I think that is the best way until there are enough qualified higher-level teaching assistants," she said. "I would worry about standards otherwise."

The extra cover will be provided by a specialist French teacher and three other qualified teachers working between half a day and a day a week taking RE, swimming and science.

Mrs Woodward has been able to fund the programme because she enjoys teaching and is prepared to spend four days a week in the classroom and because her school is bucking the national trend of falling rolls.

In the past five years her pupil numbers have risen from 132 to 187. But with her school now at capacity, Mrs Woodward knows the funding rise this brings will not last.

"We introduced PPA time in this way to make sure our children get a good deal and to make sure all the areas in the curriculum are covered well and not just adequately," she said. "But it all depends on the budget - whether we can do that next year I don't know."

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