No one expects doctors to cut up crisp packets for scalpels...

6th April 2001 at 01:00
DOCTORS do not have to rely on supermarket vouchers for their surgical equipment, so why should schools need them for computers?

next week's Association ofTeachers and Lecturers' conference xviii ask.

The Government should corn- mission an independent audit ofhow dcpendent schools are on volunteers, parental donations and voucher schemes, the union believes.

"A huge proportion of the support primary schools get does not come through theirbudgets. Therefore, no one actually knows how much this provision really costs," said Robin Bevan, a member ofthe ATL's Essex branch committee, who is proposing the audit.

"Imagine what it would be like if we went to Tesco's and instead of being offered computers for schools were offered surgical instruments for doctors. Or ifwe went to a solicitor's to draftawill, and were told: 'I don't have the time but the mother of one ofmy clients is here and she can help.'

"The way w view the teaching profession is quite at variance to the way we view other professions, and we have got used to it. We don't raise our eyebrows at things that are really quite peculiar."

Colleague Nikki Saunders, from Chalkwell Hall infants in Leigh-on-Sea, added: "When I go to the doc tor's, I don't see a box for collecting empty Paracetamol packets or a certain brand of cough mixture for my doctor to raise cash for a new stethoscope. So why should we have to resort to such demeaning tasks as counting little purple vouchers or cutting up crisp packets in order to get the tools of the trade?"

Andy Speake, president of ATL's Devon branch, wants the conference to back his calls for the Government to recognise that all teachers must have access to ICT equipment and services. "You wouldn't expect a policeman to purchase a personal computer and printer to be able to work at home. But that's the case for teachers."

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