'Remodelling' is not the way forward, Mr Twigg

11th March 2005 at 00:00
Having met Stephen Twigg at a heads' conference recently, he appeared to be a minister who listened and cared about the profession's problems. How sad therefore to read his slightly threatening letter (TES,February 25).

Unfortunately, primary teaching has evolved into a job that requires a half-day a week of paper shuffling to keep everyone happy, but I'm glad this is recognised and, come September, the proposal is that teachers will not have to do this on their Sunday afternoons.

However, even though I am a very good head, running a good school, I am going to be unable to give my hard-working staff half a day's non-contact time in September because I simply cannot afford it.

I think Mr Twigg will find that the only schools which have successfully "remodelled the workforce" use teaching assistants to release teachers for non-contact time. I know I am not the only head who believes this is unfair to staff who do not get paid enough, do not have the necessary qualifications to do this, and (in the case of my excellent TAs) do not want this role.

I do not have the money in my budget to afford a supply teacher to release my staff which I, and many of my colleagues, believe is the only way to remodel the workforce and ensure standards do not slip.

Mr Twigg can reject and advise all he likes, and I want to give my staff their entitlement, but I may have no choice but to break the law. If necessary, I will do so with the backing of my governors. With our budget, this is the only way we can protect the quality of education we give our children.

Pat Downes


Parklands community primary school


Little Sutton

Ellesmere Port

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