Page last updated at 13:49 GMT, Thursday, 2 October 2008 14:49 UK

Teachers' Marbella trip cancelled

Edensor Technology College staff with suitcases
School staff arrived at work on Thursday with their suitcases

A four-day teachers' training trip to Marbella in southern Spain has been called off, following criticism over costs estimated at thousands of pounds.

Pupils at Edensor Technology College in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, were expected to stay at home on Thursday and Friday while teachers were away.

The school's head Richard Mercer said it had been called off because of "pressure from media interest".

Staff will now discuss the school's new curriculum and academy plans on site.

The cost of the trip has not been disclosed, but a calculation by the BBC's Midlands correspondent Fiona Trott estimated it at 18,000, based on 80 staff travelling to the Spanish city.

'Very disappointed'

The staff had been due to hold their training conference at the Andalucia Plaza Marbella Hotel.

Mr Mercer said the training programme was now taking place at the school during Thursday and Friday. It was not possible to say how much money would be lost, he said.

We did think it was an absolutely barmy idea
Mark Meredith, Stoke-on-Trent's elected mayor

He said: "In the current economic climate we felt that the decision to travel to Marbella, linked with the intense media concerns raised, wouldn't allow the staff to work in a professional manner which we really wanted."

Mr Mercer said staff were "very disappointed that they're unable to proceed with the staff training which was planned".

He added: "One of the benefits of taking staff off site, whether it's in the UK or abroad, is to raise staff morale, raise camaraderie and clearly to produce materials which come back for the long-term good of the youngsters."

On Wednesday, the school said the Marbella trip was the "best value for money" compared with other UK and international venues.

The school said it had sought quotes from nine venues in total and the conference was booked at the end of 2007.

'Creative juices'

Stoke-on-Trent's elected mayor Mark Meredith criticised the planned trip and said he was glad it had been called off.

He told BBC Radio Stoke: "We did think it was an absolutely barmy idea.

Teachers return to Edensor College as principal defends the plan

"We told the head teacher that. He's usually a very level-headed individual and a good leader of the school.

"I know he's incredibly creative but I explained I thought his creative juices had overflowed."

Parents had also criticised the trip.

Andy Sales, 34, of Fenton, said: "Why isn't this money being spent on our kids?

"Parents are having to take time off work or are paying for extra childcare while the staff are enjoying the sun at the school's expense."

School governor Don Evans said he and his colleagues had heard "some months ago" it would be cheaper to travel abroad for a training trip rather than stay in the UK.

He added there were "a lot of questions" that needed to be asked.

School's out for Spain training
01 Oct 08 |  Staffordshire

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