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Christmas comes early for school

PUBLISHED: 19:02 01 December 2001 | UPDATED: 10:58 03 March 2010

A STAFF crisis at a Felixstowe school has forced the head teacher to take desperate measures.

Despite recent comments by Tony Blair that all Suffolk's schools now have a full complement of staff, three teachers on long term sick leave and a lack of supply teachers means that Orwell High is closing one day early before Christmas.

A STAFF crisis at a Felixstowe school has forced the head teacher to take desperate measures.

Despite recent comments by Tony Blair that all Suffolk's schools now have a full complement of staff, three teachers on long term sick leave and a lack of supply teachers means that Orwell High is closing one day early before Christmas.

Head teacher David Forrest said that it was a positive solution to a desperate situation where staff have been covering colleagues' lessons as well as trying to do their own.

Letters were sent out to parents yesterday advising them that the last day of term would be a day earlier than all the other schools.

The reason is that by covering for their colleagues, teachers have been getting hours in lieu to make up for it.

Mr Forrest said that he wanted to avoid situations where children may have to be sent home for half a day at short notice and this was a way round it.

He said: "If all of the members of staff take their lieu time together we would then close the school for one day.

"The children will get a much better quality of teaching this way as we are closing the school on the last day of term, which is the day that would do less damage to them."

He said that the move had been discussed with staff who had voted unanimously to go ahead with the action.

Mr Forrest said he hoped that this would be the only time that the school had to close because of a staff shortage but warned that it may have to happen again later in the academic year.

He said: "We are able to do this because the staff agree that it is a better way of doing things.

"This term is a long one, with teachers trying to get pupils settled for the new year and lots of exam preparation.

"The combination of these things always makes it a difficult term."

Three staff at the school have been off for more than two weeks and Mr Forrest said it is now getting more difficult to get supply staff.

He said: "A lot of them are now on contract and can pick and choose the hours they work.

"Also there are some people that we just do not want to use because they are not of a high enough standard."

But he also said that having supply teachers can affect childrens' education in a negative way.

He said: "Supply cover of lessons is always difficult.

"Children don't tend to treat the lessons as seriously as they would their normal lessons."

Mr Forrest said that by using regular staff from the school, the children were more likely to do their work.


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