Dorset head teachers under fire for luxury do
By Katie Clark Dorset Echo 3rd July
DORSET head teachers have enjoyed a two-day stay at a luxury Christchurch hotel paid for out of their school budgets.
Secondary school head teachers from across Dorset attended the conference at the Christchurch Harbour Hotel in Mudeford near Christchurch last week, with more than half of the heads staying overnight despite most either living in Dorset or nearby.
The annual conference was organised by the Dorset Association of Secondary Heads (Dash) and paid for out of their annual subscription costing £250.
Chairman Andy Puttock, head of Queen Elizabeth School in Wimborne, said the subs would usually be paid out of the school’s training and development budget.
Mr Puttock said: “It would be quite normal for the conference not to be held in a hotel.
“But there is no doubt about it, to make a conference valuable it is good to get away from the place of work so long as the spending is not expensive.”
Mr Puttock said that even if the conference had been held at a school the saving would only have been tens of pounds because they also pay for expert speakers.
He added: “It’s only once a year and in my view it is justifiable.”
“Every year we do closely look at whether we are getting value for money but at this stage we do not know what we will be doing next year.”
A typical 24-hour conference package at the hotel including the overnight stay and dinner and breakfast costs £145 per person.
Margaret Morrissey, the Dorset-based founder of Parents Outloud and former national chairman of the National Confederation of Parents Teachers Associations said: “I am all in favour of Dash but would like to see the local authority funding them rather than money taken from their school training budgets.
“Events like these should not be at the detriment of the money which goes in to run the school. “Dorset is not a very big county. “Why is there a need for an overnight stay? Could it not be held at county hall? “I think something like this is great when we are not trying to find money and save money we have not got.”
Geoff Cooke, Dorset’s NUT secretary, said: “Any money that should be spent on children should not be squandered on extravagances.
“We do not agree with the practise of using public funds for expensive events such as this.
“They could quite easily have held this at the Gryphon School for a lot less.”