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Timetable tyranny riles primary staff

David Henderson report's from the NAS's annual conference

THE creative spark of primary teachers is being squeezed out by the inspectorate's insistence on adhering strictly to 5-14 guidelines, Rhona Mackenzie, South Lanarkshire, said.

Her school was "slated" by HMI two years ago for failing to follow the balance of the timetable "to the minute". Now it had followed the advice, "there is no flexibility. There is no timetable for registration, for dinners or even changing shoes.

"These may seem small matters but in a primary schools these are important. The reality is that twice a week for 15 minutes from 9 o'clock to 9.15 I'm timetabled to do music. They come in singing. We sing and hange our shoes and I call out the dinners in a non-musical way."

Mrs Mackenzie appealed for an end to centrally imposed time constraints. "The best lessons work when you can go off at a tangent. We used to have that luxury. Now you can't do that. I am trying to tie in 13 subjects in a week in these time frames and it's a recipe for breakdown. There is pressure on the kids," she stated.

Teachers needed time to talk to children as they were often the only stable adult figure in a child's life. "We are all guidance teachers in primary and we need to be able to find time that the children need. We need a commonsense approach to the balance of the curriculum," Mrs Mackenzie said.

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