Pupils told to stay at home

NEARLY 100 children will stay at home on Monday due to staff shortages at a Suffolk school.Deben High School, Felixstowe, has written to some parents to advise them that three classes in year seven will not be able to come to school for a day.

NEARLY 100 children will stay at home on Monday due to staff shortages at a Suffolk school.

Deben High School, Felixstowe, has written to some parents to advise them that three classes in year seven will not be able to come to school for a day.

The school has been affected by high levels of absent teachers for long periods of time and shorter absences due to seasonal illness.

The school cannot find enough supply staff to cover missing teachers and Terry Ring, headteacher, said yesterday: ''There will be at least seven out of 60 odd teachers missing on Monday which is a very high percentage.


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''I am very concerned. If we could find supply teachers we would employ them. It is not a question of money. A lot of supply teachers are now being employed full time and the pool of labour out there is not as big as we would like.''

He said the school did not like to combine classes and teach them together in the hall when teachers were ill because this was not an effective environment for teaching, and staying at home was the preferred option when necessary.

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Earlier this term Deben asked children in a year 11 class to remain at home until after break before coming to school. There have been previous occasions when pupils were asked to stay at home.

Mr Ring used the school's newsletter to inform parents about the staffing difficulties. ''Where possible we employ supply teachers to cover the work of these classes but as I have written before such teachers are very difficult to find, reflecting recent shortages nationally in teaching staff.

''The situation is now such that, if we are unable to secure sufficient supply teachers, I will be planning to send classes home where reasonable alternative arrangements cannot be made,'' he wrote.

Pupils will be given a letter for their parents the day before they are sent home. Mr Ring said he would avoid disrupting examination classes in years 10 to 13.

A county council spokeswoman said staff shortages were not a major problem across the county but there were ''pockets'' of absent teachers due to illness.

She stressed that any headteacher who decided to send children home would have considered all alternative options.

''We can give guidance to help them and we have an arrangement with E M Direct, a one-stop shop for heads applying for cover,'' she said.

Two years ago Orwell High School, Felixstowe, ended term a day early. The school could not obtain enough supply teachers, and teachers who had been covering for colleagues on short and long-term illness were owed lieu time. The school decided it would be better if staff took time owing at the same time.

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