Touring teachers back on the road

6th October 2000 at 01:00
MORAY'S touring primary teachers, specialising in art, music and physical education, have been assured of a future after unanimous support from schools.

The council has ditched plans to further slim the number of visiting specialists and ploughed in pound;80,000 to expand a service particularly appreciated in the many small and rural primaries.

A consultation involving more than 300 teachers, school boards and unions revealed strong support with calls for the authority to rescind its "wither on the vine" policy and employ a permanent group of specialists.

Teachers told the inquiry of increasing workload over the past 10 years, exacerbated by pressures to implement the 5-14 curriculum in all areas. The Scottish Executive's focus on raising attainment through target-setting had added to their difficulties. Any removal of specialists would increase their burdens.

Alistair Farquhar, acting head of education planning and resources, told councillors last week that almost all of the 278 primary staff who responded complained that 5-14 demands had not been matched by training or continuing professional development opportunities.

Mr Farquhar said: "Many teaching staff feel inadequately trained and feel that they are not proficient enough to teach the range of skills expected within the 5-14 expressive arts programme."

Over the past four years some 10 staff had not been replaced, bringing the total down to 22 different specialists or 11.6 full-time equivalents, he said.

Moray's decision suggests that many other councils will also have to rethink their attitudes to visiting specialists. The next step for Moray, meanwhile, is to establish a working group to consider the future organisation of a strengthened service.

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