Vetting: an unexpected crisis

Headteacher David Dunmore spent the last two weeks of the school holidays chasing workmen, to make sure new floors and carpets were down on time. He knew other problems looming for the new term would be getting staff, finding supply and dealing with the ever-growing mountain of paperwork. He had no inkling of the impending crisis.

The first that St John's C of E primary, Clarendon Park, Leicester, heard about the school vetting fiasco was on the radio: "No warning whatsoever about this was sent to school during the holidays," said Mr Dunmore.

The 464-pupil school, like those in the rest of the city, opens earlier than most in the country. It was therefore one of the first to feel the consequences of the failure of the Criminal Records Bureau to process all the necessary checks.

"A fax arrived from the local authority at 8.40am on day one. Sorting that out took me all day. On day two another fax arrived clarifying the first one. But in the end we couldn't send children home because as we are a church school we do not have a local catchment area. We took a deep breath and muddled through."

He already had enough problems. His search for a dedicated music teacher had proved frustrating, Despite advertising the post twice, there had been just two applicants.

"That response," he said, "is going to become evermore typical . Students are going into schools for their teaching practice but many do not stay. Not because they won't make good tachers, but because they see at first-hand the workload and the stress."

His ambitions for the year? "An achieving, helpful and happy school - but let's enjoy it! Humour is an essential part of education. If you do not enjoy it, you will not learn. So our target for the year is an enjoyable, but totally effective, workplace."

Guy Bryce, 10, said: "I'm looking forward to the year. I like my teacher and I am not worrying too much about key stage tests... I know that exams are necessary - but they're not that big a deal." Ten-year-old Matthew McCluskey was more nervous about the KS2 tests because they "are used to give you a grade for your next school so they're very important... they make me a bit worried".

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