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West Berkshire head defends Dorset teachers conference

Paul Field says two-day event in Poole was good value for money at £300

Dan Cooper

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Dan Cooper

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THE chairman of West Berkshire’s Primary Heads Association has defended the decision to use school finances to fund a two-day conference in Dorset.

Around 40 headteachers attended the event at the Sandbanks Hotel, Poole, last month.

One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, contacted the Newbury Weekly News questioning whether it was an appropriate way to spend school funds.

Paul Field – who is also head at Basildon Primary School – said he could understand why people may feel the need to complain but added that he was “comfortable” with how the money had been spent.

Mr Field said he got a “fantastic deal”, paying just £300 for 40 headteachers to stay the night and attend the conference at the hotel.

Speaking to the NWN, Mr Field said: “The conference is valuable and allows headteachers time away to focus.

“I can totally understand that, in the current financial climate, people are asking these questions but, in my view, we managed to negotiate an incredibly good deal at £300.

“Some headteachers, including myself, like to travel down the evening before the conference to avoid the morning traffic.

“For those who choose to do that, they pay for the extra night’s stay out of their own pocket.”

Asked why the conference was not held in Newbury or West Berkshire, Mr Field added: “It’s a valid question.

“In the past we have held conferences in the district but it actually turns out to be more of a hindrance than a help because heads can get called away to deal with issues at school.

“By travelling down to Dorset, we can completely distance ourselves from any distractions and focus on what we all feel is a very important meet-up.”

A spokesman for West Berkshire Council, Martin Duns-combe said: “The cost is picked up by the schools.”

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