I read with great interest the article in the November 12 issue about concerns raised by class teachers on the way "McCrone time" is being delivered in Scottish schools.
I greatly appreciated their anxieties - the lack of any national pattern or, in many areas, the absence of local authority policy. This has turned non-class contact time into a minefield full of hidden traps, not least of which is the question of quality assurance for pupils during the 90-minute blocks.
Consistency of delivery of curricular areas, assessment of pupils during this period which requires reporting and continuity of curricular progression should all be examined.
From a professional interest as a "McCrone teacher" employed to deliver non-class contact time to 10 colleagues (0.6 of my working week), I have been asking colleagues employed in other authorities how it is dealt with in their schools.
The answers are as numerous as the schools, and it is dispiriting to discover that there is no pattern emerging which could lead to a best practice benchmark. This would obviously be desirable before the allocated time increases in the future.
Within the authority where I am employed there seem to be at least three modes of delivery: class teachers released for one year to develop a specific curricular area throughout the school; a former principal teacher of expressive arts employed to deliver the subject in either one school or a cluster of smaller ones; and former supply teachers providing cover in a specific school.
The first and second models have the possibilities of ensuring consistency of recording and assessment - but the third model, which is the most common in use, is problematic.
As I am part of this third group, I feel I have a vested interest in ensuring that the work I do is of a high standard. But I get no job satisfaction when I feel that what I am perceived to be doing is glorified babysitting.
There is no allocated time for teacher liaison, feedback to pupils has to be delivered within contact time and there is no opportunity to develop topics beyond class contact. Furthermore, pupils have only a vague notion of our status within the school - somewhere between a classroom assistant and a "real" teacher.
This issue is worth a full investigation and discussion.
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