Twice the trouble;Talkback

5th February 1999 at 00:00
Teaching thrives when we have enough time to talk usefully with children and colleagues and enough facilities to do a decent job.

But split-site schools undermine this. Staff have to leave lessons early, rush through busy corridors, collect materials, get in their cars, which may well be blocked in, and drive an awkward route to another site. They arrive late or flustered and the class does not have the benefit of an orderly start.

Morning break, that small space for drawing breath and ironing out wrinkles, disappears, lunchtimes are eroded and staff become exhausted.

I remember the car-less, 50-something colleague I used to meet as she struggled up the steep hills between our schools, laden with at least one heavy bag of books. Even fit, young staff with transport are soon ground down. Pupil-teacher contact outside class is limited, and extra-curricular activities are seriously curtailed. Classrooms become impersonal venues with few facilities.

Split-site schools waste money; resources and buildings are duplicated. Wear on staff vehicles is heavy - and the constant carrying of heavy materials becomes a health risk. Being in the right room at the right time and having all the correct keys for the various cupboards can become a teacher's main goal.

I would never choose to work in such a school again and I would never advise anyone to send a child to one if there was a decent alternative. Governors and inspectors must be made aware of the pressures (they should try shadowing teachers). Single sites should be a priority.

The author teaches in north Kent

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