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Long Sutton head teacher: duvet days help us to keep our staff

Bill Lord: this policy is about keeping fantastic teachers in front of our fantastic children.
Bill Lord: this policy is about keeping fantastic teachers in front of our fantastic children.

A South Holland head teacher found himself in a media storm over a policy designed to keep “fantastic teachers in front of our fantastic children”.

Bill Lord is giving all full-time staff at Long Sutton Primary School one extra day off a year as part of a series of steps to help teachers feel more valued and to encourage them to stay.

Long Sutton is one of several South Holland schools offering “duvet days”, but the town school was mentioned in an article in the Daily Mail, which included other schools across the country, and categorised the incentive as “lessons in laziness from lie-in teachers” as well as saying “schools now offer employees last-minute duvet days”.

Mr Lord pointed out that staff at Long Sutton must give a minimum two weeks’ notice and there are other rules to minimise potential disruption to the smooth running of the school, including one that prevents teachers taking off the last day before the school holidays or the first day back.

Schools face a national recruitment crisis because of a shortage of teachers, but Long Sutton is managing to keep hold of its staff, including newly-qualified teachers (NQTs) who often go off to pastures new within a short time of appointment.

The school has put £3,500 in its budget to pay for the duvet days, but Mr Lord says that’s money well spent compared with the cost of hiring new staff. Mr Lord said: “This is not about giving teachers more holiday but it is a tool to retain staff when recruitment is so expensive.

“It is not uncommon now for schools to appoint supply teachers as full-time staff which will then incur a finder’s fee in excess of £3,000 from the supply agency. The school has retained most of its staff over the last five years whilst moving from ‘requiring improvement’ to a strong, ‘good’ OFSTED report last year.

“There is a national recruitment crisis which is particularly acute in rural areas such as South Lincolnshire.

We have normally recruited in the last weeks of the summer term, which this strategy is designed to avoid through retaining staff

“The national drop-off rate for NQTs is to lose 60 per cent in the first five years. We have retained all of our NQTs over the last five years with the exception of one who moved to the South West and is still teaching.”

• Is this a good idea for our schools? Email your views to lynne.harrison@iliffe publishing.co.uk

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