Why there's a demand for supply

30th May 1997 at 01:00
I would like to correct the statement made by Val Thomasson in The TES ("Two years to spend Pounds 2,000", May 16) that the Headlamp Scheme provides sufficient funds to train newly-appointed headteachers without "robbing anybody else". Unfortunately, some teachers in Mrs Thomasson's school were "robbed" of their non-contact time when they were directed to cover her lessons while she was on the Headlamp course.

The issue of supply cover for staff development is of crucial importance yet it isn't mentioned in the feature. Funds for training diminish while governments old and new scream for higher standards.

The assumption is that teachers go on courses and their colleagues cover for them because "there ain't no money for supply". This surely is counter-productive. A teacher's personal or professional development now hits the performance of others whose stress and exhaustion levels are increased by loss of non-contact time or an extended working day through courses running beyond the 1,265 hours. It is silly and you would not find it in organisations other than schools.

An example: in Mrs Thomasson's school, the information technology co-ordinator (who happens by strange coincidence to be myself) has been given Pounds 100 to cover this financial year's entire IT training needs. Many staff both want and need more training to deliver IT effectively across the curriculum but supply teachers cost Pounds 120 a day. So, either any meaningful IT training has to be forgotten, people go on courses and the rest cover, or training is laid on in rare and precious non-contact time or at the end of tiring working days. What do your contributors suggest?

NIGEL VARLEY

Secretary

National Union Of Teachers

Herefordshire Teachers' Association

Hereford

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