Primary to break law on non-contact time

11th February 2005 at 00:00
North primary, in Colchester, will break the law and defy the Government, unions and employers by refusing to implement the final phase of the workforce agreement in September.

The governors have unanimously agreed that the deal is unworkable without more money and say it would would damage standards. So their teachers will not benefit from the 10 per cent planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time that the agreement guarantees.

But head Alan Garnett is not expecting protests. Both his teaching and non-teaching staff met before the governors' decision and decided they were opposed to PPA if it meant support staff taking classes. "We are not looking to do that because of what we see as an impact on standards, of whole classes being taught for an afternoon a week throughout the year by non-qualified staff," he said.

The agreement had been designed for secondaries to claw back non-contact time, he said, rather than primaries which never had PPA.

The school's 12 classroom teachers decided unanimously to forgo their PPA time last June.

Colleen Palmer, a Year 3 teacher, said: "Non-contact time is a really nice idea, but the Government needs to fund it properly.

"We all value the support of our assistants but they do not share our training and experience."

Jan Blackwell, chair of governors, said: "How can you expect standards to rise if you have non-professionals teaching classes?

"Our teachers are very professional and are concerned about what will happen if they are not present in class on a regular basis.

"In September, if we haven't got enough funding to bring in this agreement using teachers then we will not be able to implement it in full."

Mr Garnett says that the alternative to support staff taking lessons - employing a new teacher at pound;20-35,000 a year to cover for PPA time - is beyond his school's means. North primary has a budget of around pound;600,000, so the 1 per cent extra promised by the Government in 2005-6 for primaries to implement the deal would only be around pound;6,000.

Mr Garnett said: "I have no desire to break the law but I am unable to comply with it and safeguard our students' education."

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