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Absent teachers cost more than cash; DAILY POST OUR VIEW.

MOST former pupils can remember the bonus free lesson when Sir or Miss failed to show for class. In some cases, it resulted in disruption as an inexperienced stand-in was drafted in to baby sit Form 3 for the allotted time span in the timetable.

Little has changed over the years, other than, according to schools and finance watchdogs, it is getting worse.

Almost one in 10 lessons across Wales is now covered by a stand-in, in many cases a supply teacher from outside the school.

The Wales Audit Office reveals today that our schools spent a staggering PS54m on classroom supply cover in 2011-12, a rise of 7% since 2008-09.

The problem of resorting to supply staff is worst in secondary schools. More worryingly, inspectors found that pupil's learning is being hampered. In comprehensive schools, 11-14 year-olds are more likely to have their learning disrupted as schools make extra effort to secure better cover arrangements for older examination classes.

Reasons for teachers absences ranged from sickness, to training days or 'attendance at meetings'. Though what can be more important than teaching our kids? There will be times when teachers get sick and they do need training, something less likely to be available to supply staff it seems.

Reducing sickness absence to levels in England, could cut the number of days of cover by 60,000 and the cost by PS9m.

Rhyl High School is among those singled out for 'best practice' after appointing a finance manager to ensure value for money. Let's hope this message is spread far and wide so all children can get an even break.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Sep 17, 2013
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