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Tuesday, 4 September, 2001, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Term starts late at shortage school
empty class
Term for pupils at Oriel High will start on 17 September
Teacher shortages has forced a secondary school in Norfolk to start term late and on a four-day week basis.

As thousands of pupils returned to school this week, the 640 pupils at Oriel High School, Gorleston, Great Yarmouth, will not start classes until 17 September.


Our actions are in the best interests of the students and their education

Michael Dopson, head teacher
The school is believed to be the first in England forced to send pupils home one day a week this school year.

Concerns from unions and the chief inspector for schools in England brought the issue of shortages to the top of the political agenda over the summer.

Oriel High, described as "challenging" by the Department for Education, has been struggling to recruit and retain staff for some time.

Parents were warned in July that timetable cuts would be necessary unless six vacancies were filled for September.

GCSE exemption

Only those pupils sitting GCSEs and vocational courses next summer will be exempt from the four-day week.

All classes will be in school in Mondays and Fridays, while Year 10 will stay at home, with work set on Tuesdays, Year 8 on Wednesdays and Year 9 on Thursdays, said head teacher Michael Dopson.


We have every confidence that the temporary arrangements are in the best interests of the children

Dr Bryan Slater, director of education
Mr Dopson - drafted in from a school in Norwich for a year - said a combination of problems specific to the school and the national staff shortage had forced him to make the timetable cuts.

In a letter to parents, Mr Dopson said the temporary contingency plans were a way of getting the school back on track.

"We hope it will not cause too much disruption to parents and appeal for their understanding," the letter said.

"We would like to reassure them that our actions are in the best interests of the students and their education. "With the support of the local community, we can transform Oriel."

LEA backing

Mr Dopson's decision has the backing of his local education authority.

Norfolk's director of education, Dr Bryan Slater, said the plans were sensible.

"I understand that parents might be concerned and would like to reassure them that we have every confidence that the temporary arrangements are in the best interests of the children."

See also:

04 Sep 01 | Education
Teacher shortages loom as term starts
31 Aug 01 | Education
Heads hiring 'poor quality' teachers
28 Aug 01 | Education
Teacher shortages worst for decades
28 Aug 01 | Education
Where are all the teachers?
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