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Inquiry into the use of supply teachers in Cornwall’s schools
10:00am Thursday 3rd October 2013 in News
Falmouth councillor Candy Atherton has won an inquiry into the use of supply teachers in Cornwall’s schools.
Ms Atherton, who represents the Cornwall Council division which includes King Charles primary school, said it was important to learn lessons from the way the council had handled a previous inquiry into the school’s former headteacher, Heather Taylor.
The new “Select Committee” inquiry is one of the first of its kind and will call both council officers and elected members as witnesses. It could be several months before the new inquiry is complete. A previous council inquiry, concluded two years ago, remained secret until the Packet published it last week.
King Charles school was recently placed in Special Measures after being slammed as “inadequate” by Ofsted inspectors.
Mrs Taylor, who for years recruited supply teachers from a company owned by her husband, has now been replaced. Neither she nor Cornwall Council will say if she has resigned, been sacked or is still in receipt of her salary.
A council investigation found that although Mrs Taylor had declared her interest in her husband’s company, of which she was also a director, and although she had broken no rules, she was “naive” not to realise the impression given to concerned parents.
Ms Atherton’s investigation is due to start today (Weds) when she meets officials at County Hall to discuss the scope of her inquiry.
“I am really concerned that action could have been taken earlier to help a whole cohort of youngsters,”
Ms Atherton told the Packet. “We all need to understand what happened at King Charles in relation to the school going into Special Measures. We also need to understand what happened with supply teachers being linked to the headteacher in the way that they were.”
Following the Packet’s revelation last week, detailing the secret council report, the council itself has today finally published the document, as well as a heavily-redacted version of an internal audit investigation into the use of supply teachers at King Charles.
The former Cornwall County Council privatised its supply teaching arrangements more than ten years ago by devolving responsibility to local headteachers and governors.
But across Britain, some other local authorities continue to provide their own supply teachers directly, while some others set up their own “arms length” private companies or placed supply business with one single contractor. Cornwall is one of a relatively small number of councils where, because of the multitude of different contracts held at a very local level, it is particularly difficult to monitor the quality and effectiveness of private supply teaching companies.